Halloween isn’t just for the wicked, it’s basically a holiday for geeks and cosplayers to get their geek on with full approval and even celebration. And this Halloween, some classic Storm is out in full force! And who can blame ’em, a Storm costume is the perfect way to get geeky and stay classy.
These classy and sassy Storms would make the lightning goddess have a little chat with her designer….
In Singer/model/director Greg Serebuoh‘s hands Storm goes natural diva:
Director John Laner, a self-proclaimed geek, is a newcomer to the scene, both the cosplay scene and the documentary film scene, with only one other film under his belt – a 2010 documentary called Wastings and Pain, and up-close look that the poverty-stricken Downtown East neighborhood of Vancouver.
In his nerdy new documentary, Laner takes a look at another marginal group – cosplayers.
Many geeky activities get tagged as escapism. And indeed it is often the case that we read about demon warlords in order to escape our own demons and wars, or we slay virtual dragons because we can’t fight the real fiery circumstances in our real lives. But for some the fantasy can be far truer than reality. Passionate cosplayers spend hours before a convention applying makeup and untangling wigs, and before that they dedicate months to design, needlework, and sculpting, toiling away like mad scientists in order to bring the characters of their fantasies to life .
For people like Lucas (aka TwinFools), Danae (aka Rifa), and Lilly (aka SecretAttire), the dedicated cosplayers that My Other Mefollows through a year of conventions, cosplay is more than just a hobby. It’s a lifestyle.
Over the course of the film we get an intimate view of these three cosplayers lives, from the hours Danae commits to designing the costumes that she scrapes a living from, to Lilly’s anxiety at her first con, to Lucas’s physical struggles through hormone therapy and Male-to-Female surgery.
At first you think you’ve got them pegged; it seems obvious why they cosplay – Lilly is shy, Danae is worried about making a living, Lucas struggles with his trans identity. But along the way the costumes gradually strip away to reveal that cosplay isn’t just an escape for these youths; perhaps it began as a fantasy land, but cosplay has significantly changed each of their lives. It solidified Lilly’s relationship with her estranged mother. Danae found a loving relationship she can count on, Lucas, who began by cosplaying primarily male characters, found a stage where he could safely perform the masculine identity he felt inside his previously female body. But neither, of course, does that capture it all.
Thankfully the reasons why cosplay speaks to certain people and why it spoke to these individuals in particular is beautifully unboxable. What is evident is that it has become an important part of their lives and at the end of the day it’s just play, it’s fun, and it comes with an arms-wide-open community. And, like other geeky pastimes, that’s why they’re into it.
As cool as the costumes are, the personal stories are certainly the strongest part of the film, especially the focus on the families and friends who support the main characters’s cosplay. However, while Laner is a green documentary director, and there are a few moments where this is evident, the less stylized approach he takes in My Other Me is perfect for the topic.
The film really digs in, sometimes getting too personal even for the subjects, like the questioning of Danae’s cosplaying best friend Mana about his gender identity. But this directness and probing also led to some of the most interesting notes in the film – how cosplay allows marginalized individuals or social outcasts to perform the identities they yearn to make real for themselves.
Tackling transgender identity, non-traditional families, and LGBTQ love, My Other Me is a unique look at a world of wigs, masks, and cardboard swords and how outsiders find a home in the geeky community of costume cons.
Check out some of the footage from an earlier trailer that didn’t make it into the film… More costumes!
Maybe you buy your comics online or maybe you wait for the trade volume of your favorite comics and you get them from the library… And that’s totally fine! But there’s no better day than May Day – a day of celebration for workers across the world – to suck it up and drop a few bucks in support of your local comics shop. Grab a new comic or put your money where your cards are and join a Magic The Gathering tournament, or just load up on a couple comics you’ve always been meaning to get to.
And if you’re like us, at the comics shop so often people think you work there, then you can support too! Try a new comic, add that comic you’ve been himming and hawing about to your pull list. Ask the store owner for a recommendation and splurge on a brand new trade! Any way you can, support your store! We’re heading into Free Comic Book Day this weekend, so it all balances out anyway!
For Boston locals check out this post for some ideas on where to go!
2. Go Indie for the cause!
Believe it or not, comics creators and game developers are workers too! And they’re notoriously underpaid, overworked, and/or underrecognized. Support your favorite creators directly by checking out their independent projects or discovering new creators. You can often find cool new projects looking for support on sites like Kickstarter, which even breaks it down for you with easy categories for games, comics, technology, etc.
Right now we’re loving (and supporting!) this creepy Dexter-like comic from artist Larime Taylor, whose brief Twitter bio describes him as “Disabled creator of comics. I draw with my mouth.” Check it out (and support!):
Another of our favorite indie games right now is Cardboard Computer‘s Kentucky Route Zero– a haunting magical realist adventure game set in an old mining town. Check out the trailer below!
3. Teach geekery for the cause!
The next generation of workers are up-and-coming, and one great way to celebrate the day is to make sure that next generation is sufficiently geeky!
Join a tutor program and teach STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) skills in underserved communities or to groups that aren’t traditionally represented in STEM careers. Check out STEM tutoring opportunities in your area. Or if you can’t spare the time, then spare the change, and support cool organizations like…
Black Girls Code, which seeks “to introduce programming and technology to a new generation of coders”
4. Read (comics) about the cause!
Comics are as diverse and encompassing as any other literature, and there are plenty of comics about workers, labor rights, and important historical events in labor history. What better way to learn about workers history & rights than by reading a comic?! Here are a few to check out:
Abina and the Important Menby Trevor R. Getz & Liz Clarke – The story of Abina Mansah, a West African woman who was wrongfully enslaved and took her former master to court, creating a revolutionary case monumental in the history of slavery, the wage economy, and underpaid domestic workers in the UK and Africa.
Superheroes fight for justice and the little guy. A number of them, like Daredevil, She Hulk, Luke Cage even supplement their usual heroic tactics (a lot of punching things) with a little activist work on the side! It only makes sense that superheroes would support a day that’s all about labor justice and workers rights. As a bunch of kids discovered last month while protesting the MBTA in Boston, nothing screams justice like a cape and tights. There will be no shortage of May Day events today, so put on your cape, get out there and show your geekery and your support for workers at the same time!
Anyone who hasn’t seen Beyonce’s newest music video (clip) for her song “Bow Down“, go ahead and fill two minutes of your life with stunning originality. Go ahead…
Right?! What is she wearing?!? And why can’t I wear that to work every single day??
Okay, so Beyonce has gotten a lot of flak for this new song, but we don’t care about that. Just look at that outfit? The Queen B has worn her share of outrageous, eye-full-of-skin combos, and she’s been praised and damned for her fashion choices, but I’m gonna have to step aside from the boos and yays and give her a gleefully geeky nod for her very public affection for cosplay.
Yup. You heard right. Cosplay. Beyonce Knowles-Carter is a cosplayer – cosplaya if you will (her style is a little too fly for that final ‘r’). And it’s not just her latest foray into what I can only call steampunk-inspired Elizabethan Funk. Indeed, Beyonce has been cosplaying ever since she let it out that she had an alter ego who takes over her body to wreak rhythmic havoc on stage – Sasha Fierce.
Sasha Fierce wears diamond clad jumps suits (a la Dazzler, if you ask me). Her magical powers? Entrancing dance and singing abilities, a staggeringly unchecked confidence, and bullwhip hair.
Beyonce has also cosplayed as various other characters of her own invention, including the Sauran-esque android in “Single Ladies” who’s recruited two cloned henchmen on a quest for a special ring, an animorphing warrior queen, and now a mythical Black Elizabethan royal, who can apparently bend the space-time continuum, reigning over a court of hip-hop jesters and funky courtiers (we can get into her reclamation of the (literally) powdery white regality of this era in future post).
Beyonce has taken cosplay to a whole new level, creating characters of her own, dressing the part, and performing their stories on-stage and on-screen. Just because she’s famous and super hot doesn’t mean she isn’t a super geeky role player. Her styled performances are a solid nod to cosplay, steampunk, maybe even larping… not to mention the sci-fi and historical play she ropes into her costumed affairs, like “Single Ladies” and “Bow Down”.
Admit it B, you’re just a big nerdy geeky geekface. And it look good on ya.
Beyonce’s not the only one, however. Music and costumed performance are basically kissing cousins, and many contemporary and historical music artists take full advantage of the opportunity to play. Madonna, Janelle Monae, Lady Gaga, Nikki Minaj, and even Gene Chandler, who logged a stunning performance as Duke of Earl in the 50’s… which is exactly what I’ll leave you with. Cosplay in the mainstream? Let’s call it popcosplay.