#UnpopularOpinion: My Initial Reaction to Syfy’s “Cosplay Melee” is… “Meh”

I heavily dislike this shit, man. I need to be upfront about it. I can’t jam and butter with reality shows. Something about exploiting specific types of people for the sake of the ‘moral’ dollar and the pulverizing gaze of modern-day entertainment and media does not vibe with me. My blood further experiences enragement when indifferent opportunists blow cosplay up, capitalize off of it, and water it the fuck down. I am all about profiting from your art, all about the Patreons, etc, but I just can’t get over the falseness and untruths seeped in these cash grubbing media takes.

I got nothing against the judges. They’re fine. Except for the fact that they signed up for this regurgitated hog shit. Okay, no, I’m sorry, I was having flashbacks to Heroes of Assholes. Community alum Yvette Nicole Brown, cosplayer LeeAnna Vamp, and Christian Beckman will be the panel of judges for the show. While I am personally slightly familiar with Brown’s work, I don’t know who Vamp and Beckman really are. Hopefully, that doesn’t immediately mean that something is wrong, due to me not knowing who these cosplay judges even are, despite me being heavily involved with the community for years. I think these judges should have experience and must have a good eye with catching detail for craftsmanship involving molding, sewing, metal work, and more.

Cosplay Melee - Season 1

My worry is that these cosplay judges will be thrown into this role of some kind of holier-than thou cosplay royalty, when in reality they should just be considered fellow nerds who want the most talented individual to win. I hate when I see figures in reality competitions become some kind of God in the eyes of their competitors. It’s disingenuous and fairly alarming to see cult-ish personas evolve on a semi-scripted reality television show. I feel like the image would be even more piercing if I saw a Final Fantasy XV cosplayer bowing down and performing groveling back-flips for the judges. I’d also like to see a little more diversity in the cast of competitors. I can’t really tell too much about the type of people who will be competing from the trailer, but one would think SyFy would learn from its mistakes from Heroes of Cosplay.

My (other) thing is, why would you (a cosplayer) want to compete in this? I guess for the exposure? $10,000 is a lot of money, but for some reason, I don’t think that alone really sweetens the pot too much. While the trailer avoids any kind of HoC/ANTM drama, I wonder if the producers would want to try and shoehorn some of it in there. My doubt on whether this show will succeed or fail is also clouded with a bias of me strongly believing that this community flourishes best when there is not a huge corporate feel to it; however, this is tied heavily with that $$$ so I also understand artists needing and deserving to earn handsomely for their highly demanded work.

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I want to support cosplayers. I feel like I am contradicting myself in some way. However, I can’t think that a show like this can be taken very seriously. For me, cosplay represents a hobby that intersects and combines multiple skills and passes through numerous genres. For years, people have been trying (and succeeding) in cashing in off of the love and devotion many nerds have for dressing up as their beloved characters. You will forgive me for not believing that this show and SyFy has the creators’ best interests in mind. However, for the geeks in gear competing in this show, I tip my hat to you. I wish you the best of luck. May your glue gun never die, and may your sewing be swift and efficient.

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  • Oona Sura is a cosplay enthusiast with an appreciation for Framboise Lambic, Haruki Murakami, and cats. Catch her at the next anime convention on the East Coast!

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