Cosplay Competition ? Never a fair game ?
A few days ago, while casually going through my daily regime of checking out my DA account. I came across a friend’s DA journal entry and it inspired me to write my longest entry here yet. You might wanna read the entry before continuing.
So yes. As the title says, Cosplay competitions. How fair are they ?
I've been in quite a number of competitions myself and I find it really hard to write this without the awful thought of how others might start assuming I'm just another sore loser kicking up a fuss. This is something I’ve always wanted to ‘thrash’ out but felt too pressurized to go about doing it. I don’t even dare to talk about it in my personal blog!
But I'm going to try my best to keep my opinions as unbiased as possible here. I shall focus on a few points about Cosplay competitions that I can’t stand and competition/event organisers can improve on.
If you don't agree with my opinions . . . guess i can't help you there =P. We can’t expect this blog to be all peaches and cream can we?! For your reading convenience, I’m going by points.
1. Judging Criteria
Some organisers tells you clearly what category makes up how many percent of the results while some don’t. Those who don’t suck. Simple as that.
And why? Because cosplayers don’t know whether we should 1. focus on the skit/performance or 2. work on selecting/making an elaborate costume that will score us higher points 3. Go with a character that’s easy to act out and suitable for self.
Isn’t that annoying =_= ?!??!!
But for organisers who do, it’s the result that sometimes makes us doubt. Whether or not, they are really going by the list they confirmed beforehand. This is something difficult to solve because we obviously can’t nab the judge’s judging sheet for a looker can we?
Maybe we can do it the Japanese variety program style.
Anyone heard of “Kaishou Taishou”? Singaporeans might remember it better as “Chao Ji Bian! Bian! Bian!!” a famous Japanese variety programme. It’s this uber creative and downright hilarious programme where they get people from all over Japan to join this competition/show to get the grand prize of some icantrememberhowmuch cold hard cash.
Kasou Taishou (欽ちゃん＆香取慎吾の全日本仮装大賞; Kinchan and Katori Shingo's All Japan Costume Grand Prix) is a semi-annual show on NTV in which various amateur groups (or solo artists) perform short skits, which are rated by a panel of judges. Especially in recent years, many of the skits have revolved around clever methods of "faking" cinematic special effects on a live stage. The most famous of these skits, and the most successful at "fake special effects" was a skit which is widely known as "Matrix ping pong".
Anyway, I digressed. I wanted to direct your attention to the judging method used here. A direct-LED-light-up form of judging.
Honestly, from a cosplayer POV I can’t say this is the most encouraging form of judgment but from the public and organisers POV, this is the most interesting and unrigged way =X
Gotta admit it’s an awesome way to get the crowd moving along with the heartbeats of the cosplayers. Only downfall is, you might not get anymore cosplayers to join your event/competition next year xD
2. Unclear Rules/Regulations/Competition procedure
Point 2 would be the forever unclear competition process. For some reason, organisers always seem to find it so hard to give us correct information/ or stick to whatever procedures THEY set. There are always those that either end up scrapping a promised process or announce some last minute changes on the day itself.
Coming from an organising background , trust me when I say I understand the constraints. But as a contestant I can't help but feel upset at the change of rules or lack of clear instructions.
I mean hey, the one who's going to look like a fool on stage is me! ! Of course I should be concerned !
The worse are organisers who don't tell you ANYTHING until the last moment/week! You know, some of the contestants happen to be serious performers who need to know the details so they can plan their skit and personal schedule around it. I understand contestants are but a marketing chess to some organisers but try to think in our shoes once in a while yeah?
Anyway, this point brings back some memories of my own. Alright, this is the part where I’ll sound my bitchiest (-_-|||) . So some time ago, I joined a competition and was told, we were supposed to go on stage, chat with the Emcees then do the usual skit/strike poses thingy for the judges.
So there I was, being dumb/naive/unprofessional/ casual/playful/ stupid/wadeveradjectiveyoudeemfittolabelme and thinking, what I should focus on doing on stage is to have fun and entertain the audience. Character portrayal can wait till the posing.
Call me a lousy or unprofessional cosplayer if you want. But I just couldn’t figure out how I can interact in a friendly manner with the emcee WHILE being In-Character. I just can’t see Shana doing that @_@!!!!! Anyway, my time on stage ended without me doing anything Shana-Like. So yeah. No posing either I think O_o ……
Anyway, I lost and it was a fair fight. No complaints. But after the event, a delightful thread was started on a local forum dissing me. I was pretty taken aback initially since I’ve always been low profile but I soon found humor in it and took it as an entertainment.
Okay, main point about that thread and the mentioning of the event. Was to talk about point 2 of this entry.
As a contestant, I had been betting my chance on the last portion which didn’t came. And I’m sure I’m not the only one to feel this.
Totally my fault for not being a good enough cosplayer to, you know, pull off the “100% in-Character” whenever I’m on stage. But that’s my own problem and its beside the point so don’t put me down for that :P
Shana says Sien to unclear instructions.
Putting this photo randomly here because I think I look hilarious *does sien face* XD.
Even the pretty pink babe beside me seems to be looking at me weirdly. Her ascii emoticon would be
this ----> ._.u
3. Murky selection/ public voting?
Okay. Lemme clear the easier part first. Public voting.
Argh, seriously, I don’t know man. Judging a competition is the hardest part sometimes. Being once very closely involved with a local Cosplay Event organising Club. I can totally understand the pain the organisers have to go through to select the winners.
(Photo : Animania.net.au)
No matter who you pick, there is bound to be someone unhappy and some nasty comments going around.
I remember asking one of the organisers of a local event (who happened to be a personal friend) why did the club decide to switch to public voting after not doing so for the past few years. And his answer was simple and unemotional.
“Because it’s easier. Logistically. ”
I remembered retorting back, something along the lines of …
“ But public voting isn’t fair, no? You just need a big base of supportive friends to win ! ”
And his reply was …
“ Yeah, but then the public can’t blame the judges/organisers for not picking the right winner because now they are the ones selecting it. If a certain individual can get his friends to help him, so can the other competitors. If that certain individual can muster enough support to overpower the rest then you’ll have to give it to him for being popular. And if anyone complains that the cosplayer they liked didn’t win then they ought to blame themselves for not voting.”
“ The problem is not with the voting system, but with the culture here. People just can’t be bothered to vote! So now with the system in place, it’s like telling them, if you don’t want to vote then you’ll have to accept the results”
I found myself unable to argue at that. Sure, I could go back to the essence of the competition being about the costume and character impersonation etc. But we’re all mortals with limited resources and unlimited rules obstructing us. Some times, when big ideas boil down to the ground level, you can’t help but have to let them evaporate because well, its just too difficult!
Randomly placing event stage photos just to build the atmosphere xD
Not only that, public voting also helps to increase interaction with the crowd. It pleases the crowd that strolls in to enjoy the free entertainment. The exact same crowd that does absolutely nothing except have fun and adds up to the head count of the event. And in the business/corporate world, how successful your event is has absolutely NOTHING to do with who the winner of a tiny competition was but HOW big a crowd your event attracted. How much influence the event has and the head count amount will be what gives you your bargaining chips and get you your sponsors.
It’s a simple yet complicated theory. It’s not righteous but that’s how the world runs. Money is god, simple enough.
That’s why I say this is difficult! I
Maria and her awesome ‘save’ from License2Play the competition. Digressing a little, but watch the video below if you wanna see how pro-cosplayers poses and handle stage mishaps.
Honestly, I’ve never thought of looking at this portion of the competition until a certain competition. I don’t want to mention names or events because I don’t see the point in being vindictive. This entry is meant to share my opinions on the benefits & pitfalls of certain Competition procedure/systems. And hopefully, the organiser will take some comments in.
Anyway, back to the topic. After the competition, I remember mourning over the results and talked to a friend about it. I was upset I lost (nobody joins a competition to lose right? I’m not a hypocrite =P ) but I felt I couldn’t blame anyone either since it’s public voting. Can’t blame anyone for being unpopular yeah ?
But it was then that my friend pointed out that he felt the judges did a bad job sifting out the better candidates (Truth be told, nobody could agree with one of the top 3 winners). If the judges had done a better job at this stage then at least the win would have more justified.
That’s when this theory hit me. I guess you get a clearer look when you’re not part of something huh?
Argh. I started having too much fun with the photos =_=;;;;
So I have listed my top 3 dissatisfaction with Cosplay Competition Organisers/System. This list really ought to be longer but I’m too lazy to type more so I’m gonna go ahead and conclude this entry.
Coming back to the main question. Are Cosplay Competitions fair?
No. They are not.
No Competition is ever fair in this world.
Especially not so for competitions based on intangible forms such as audio and visual performance. Even for sports competition which are arguable the most ‘fair’ competitions, they can also be deemed unfair. Maybe one of them took some drugs? Or it could be a match of an athlete with 10 years of training going against someone 5 years into the sport?
Yes, I understand it is disgusting for me to say that. Especially after being the lucky bast*rd to walk away with a thousand dollars from the Animax Shana Cosplay Contest. But seriously, that’s the cold hard fact of the world. I was lucky for the Shana Contest, my competitors were mostly fresh to cosplays and had never done Shana before. If I was standing against any other veteran Cosplayer/Shana Cosplayer, I’d high chance have lost. *shrug* =\
Anyway, yeah. No fair Competition exist.
Though having said that, it doesn’t mean that I think nothing can be done to ensure a competition stay as fair as it possibly can. Which is the main motive of this entry, to inspire and give suggestions for improvement from the perspective of a Cosplayer.
Because more often than not, I feel a cosplayer's need is ignored or neglected while event organisers blatantly abuses our presence to enhance their event. Abuse is a harsh word but yeah, that’s really how I feel. Not pointing fingers at any specific event though, I understand its a cause & effect theory. Maybe next time, I’ll talk more about these.
Comment and let me know your opinion!