Friday, August 1, 2014

Rant/Review: Heroes of Cosplay Season 1.5

It wasn't too long ago that I reviewed Syfy's Heroes of Cosplay. It took me some time to get my head straight and gather some reactions from critics and viewers. As of May 2014 another season was brought to the channel...well, a half season according to Wikipedia and IMDb. This half season experimented with a different angle or format to possibly make viewers happy or continue to irritate the cosplay community.

Whether you genuinely enjoyed the show or found it simply problematic, the general consensus of viewers was that the show needed less drama and more focus on crafting. This half season did supply viewers' demands. From what I heard on Facebook, Yaya Han wanted this half season to focus on the community/friendship among cosplayers, which was very apparent. Each cast member helped each other out in their time of need whether they had a partnership with each other or were each other's competition. There was less fabricated drama and more focus on the cast members putting together their costumes. It was both eye opening and inspiring for both novice and expert cosplayers and even those who spectate the hobby. The show gave us an opportunity to watch the cast sketch out their ideas, gather materials, construct their costumes and props, and see the finish product whether it was up to standard or not. Something else I know some people mentioned, including myself, was more diversity. While it isn't as broad as it could be, there were new additions to the cast and some returning cosplayers such Yaya Han, Crabcat Industries, Jesse, and Riddle. In these cast additions were two more male cosplayers Carl Martin and MiggyJagger. This time around the show gave the men of cosplay some, if not equal, screen time. The show doesn't completely glance over them, so viewers get an opportunity to see them shop and construct until the final competition. They also get to interact with their female cast mates showing the supposed theme of friendship among cosplayers. Lastly, there was less emphasis on fame and money. This isn't completely gone, but I'll talk about that later. To expand on this positive change was that it made certain cosplayers more realistic and shaped cosplay as more of a hobby than a shallow career that very few can obtain.

Still Existing Problems
To continue on that thought of less emphasis on fame and money, this little detail still exists in the show. Everyone has their own motivations to cosplay and no one should judge someone if they're doing cosplay to get famous. Some may think it's the wrong mindset or motivation and others could care less or simply encourage the person. Of course, I won't be expressing my opinion on that here, but there are a few annoying moments when a couple cast members are freaking out over the littlest things concerning their fans. During these moments, I literally responded aloud to my TV, "Nobody cares. Seriously, no one is gonna care. Shut up about it!" The person who does the most is Yaya Han. Whining about having to wear her glasses when most of her characters don't wear them and how it's inaccurate or having to complete an ambitious costume at the last minute, especially if you've never practiced walking in your stilts in such an elaborate costume. All bias aside, I think it would be best to keep Yaya's screen time to a minimum and just let her be a judge with DoomKitty and Jason David Frank or whoever else they want. Speaking of last minute costumes, this is still happening and it has become worse. Common sense should tell you that you shouldn't wait to work on a costume, especially if you're entering it in a contest that expects top quality, for the last minute. Also, you should practice and test out difficult pieces that are part of a costume ahead of time too. Not only is Yaya guilty of this, but other cast members have stressed and complained in their hotel rooms over it. One cosplayer didn't have a costume at all and had to do everything plus props up until a few minutes before her group had to go on stage. I'm assuming this happened to make up for their poorly scripted drama from the previous season. As I said before, there is drama when it comes to cosplay, that's just life, but this isn't the way to go about it. Even though I complained about too much drama, I think there should've been at least some...more specifically realistic, natural, and/or well written, drama. My complaint from the first season was that the drama was overwhelming and felt extremely superficial. Drama is what keeps reality shows interesting and although cosplay is a very interesting hobby and topic, if everyone is harmonious then things can get a little boring here and there. I wouldn't change the improvements they made at all, but less "Heroes of Cosplay: Friendship is Magic". Costumes being incomplete and malfunctions due to poor time management is not adequate drama. I think one thing that could help is to once again add more diversity. If the show didn't mostly have well known/famous cosplayers, it would be more interesting. Add someone who is only locally well known, someone who is just starting out, someone who crossplays, someone that is physically different from the majority of the cast (i.e. plus size, thin, older than usual, minority, disabled).

Behind the scenes, there are still issues of poor production planning on Syfy's behalf. There are still plenty of horror stories of cosplayers that attended the conventions featured on the show and entered the competition complaining about unprofessional treatment and manipulation of the contests. The worst of the stories come from the two part finale of the season. Whether some stories were fabricated to simply bash certain cosplayers or they are actual facts, it's still a shame and I think Syfy should greatly improve on its production techniques. If you disrespect the cosplay community, you're hurting your viewership, because they contribute to your ratings. But in general, Syfy shouldn't take over a convention's already planned schedule and revise it to fit their needs. These things should be planned ahead of time to keep both the attendees and participants happy, but also the cast and crew. They also shouldn't put down other cosplayers either as they work just as hard as the cast of the show. I guarantee if they improved on post production and production processes, things would be a lot happier for both parties.

Initially my feelings after the first episode was of surprise. I definitely noticed some drastic improvements from the first season's format and I enjoyed it, but the following episode felt like five steps back to the usual fame focused and fake drama that they were criticized for. As a whole, the whole half season was pretty inconsistent on being thoroughly entertaining and representing the cosplay community in a positive least in the aspects of "celebrity status" and competitions. It was nice seeing a little more diversity and focus on crafting, but the whining and last minute costume "drama" was annoying and unrealistic. Heroes of Cosplay has a long way to go and I don't know if they'll ever completely make me happy. I'm not sure if there's going to be a full second season in the works, but for now I'm happy to see Face/Off in its place for the time being.

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