Friday, September 20, 2013

An Apology to Becky, Holly, Jessica, and Chloe

First and foremost, I want to extend my personal apology for what happened at the costume contest.  You've all seen my post, so you hopefully understand what was going through my head at the time, but just as the extenuating circumstances of second-degree murder don't change the fact that there's a killer and a corpse, the circumstances of that night don't negate the fact that I was in the wrong and I hurt you.  For that, I am deeply sorry.

Second, I would like to apologize that this apology is so late.  I should have sent you this months ago, and whether it was cowardice, pride, or the inability to let go of my own anger, the fact is I was wrong to not reach out earlier.  For that, I am also sorry.

Third, I would like to apologize for the firestorm my post prompted.  To say I had no idea how big my post was going to get is a rather substantial understatement, and it was certainly never my intention to start a Tumblr war. (I don't even have a Tumblr account, so I'm not even sure who originally posted the screenshots of my Facebook post.)  It was written as a Facebook post to share with my friends, so when they saw the episode they would understand some of the backstory and why I hadn't really been able to say anything about that night.

I used to write for WoW Insider, and even given their popularity, I never had much readership, but I know from personal experience just how frustrating it is to be attacked on the internet.  And I also know that apologizing for spilled milk doesn't put it back in the bottle.  It is however the least I can do.  I am sorry for the pain and frustration I have caused and prompted over the last few days.

Becky -- I'm glad to hear that your eyes are better.  I've had LASIK after frustrations with contacts, so I know how scary it can be to have one's eyes not working right.  I hope your move to Maine isn't too painful; my sister and I moved across the country as kids and can testify it's not exactly fun.  Best of luck in your new adventures!

Holly and Jessica -- we really appreciate how willing you've been to support us.  Obviously, we didn't get off on the right foot together, but your willingness to defend us has really defused any residual anger we had.  It's hard, damn hard sometimes, to step back and look at a charged situation from someone else's point of view, and your willingness to do that for us really helped us do that for you.  I hope Crabcat can continue to build awesome things!

Chloe -- I want to apologize specifically for the comments made to you during our group hug.  When you and Holly and Jessica came down the hall to talk to us, we assumed that it was an attempt to draw us into another fight for the camera.  When nothing like that happened, we assumed it was an attempt to film a feel-good reconciliation scene to make for a pat reality TV ending.  As no polite, camera-friendly way to say "Please stop talking to us so we can go home" came to mind through our tired, hungry, adrenaline-soaked brains, my sister suggested a group hug so we could have an excuse to end the conversation, and to have cover from the camera to make it clear that the conversation was over.  We were wrong to assume that you were only talking to us for the camera's benefit and our response to your olive branch was rude.  We are sorry, and wish you the best of luck.

Amy Schley, Femme Six

My fellow Doctors want to echo my apology and agree with these sentiments.

Love, Heather AKA Eleven AKA itmightbehere

Tina Noire AKA Femme Four *offers jelly baby*

With my sincerest apologies and admiration for all the work you do, Hillary (Femme Three)

T.A.C. AKA Femme Eight

Femme Ten

Love and Gratitude, Meg AKA Femme 5 / YvesAdele

Abby and Future Whovian Cohen (Femme Nine and her fetus)

Laurel (Femme Two)

(More Doctors' thoughts may be forthcoming.)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My Life as a Villain of Cosplay

Tonight, I make my TV debut.  Sadly, it is not as a candidate for office, an attorney with a high profile case, or even as a businesswoman explaining the importance of high quality shoes.  No, I get to grace the small screen as a reality show villain on "Heroes of Cosplay." (Syfy, 10 Eastern)
For the uninitiated, "cosplay" is the act of dressing up as one's favorite characters from anime, comics, movies, or television shows.  This generally happens at themed conventions, and most of these conventions have masquerades or contests to showcase the best costumes of the convention.  A few cosplayers have been able to leverage winning at these conventions into internet fame, and from there into their own businesses and careers as costume judges and corporate modeling.
"Heroes of Cosplay" follows one of the most famous, Yaya Han, and a group of her friends as they attend five different conventions.  They planned to show six conventions over the six episodes, but only five would agree to filming, leaving Planet Comicon in Kansas City to pick up two episodes.  One episode would focus on the solo competition and the second would focus on the skit-required group competition (made up from whole cloth by the tv show).  It's worth noting that only one of these conventions -- Anime Matsuri in Houston TX -- had any noteworthy cosplay competition or prizes before agreeing to allow filming.  For example, Planet Comicon gave out approximately $300 in 2012.  The show subsidized the approximately $5000 handed out as prizes at Planet Comicon in 2013.
Here's where I come in.  Last year, my sister talked me into attending Planet Comicon 2012.  With about $50 (most of it spent on the hat!), we created a Fifth Doctor (of Doctor Who) costume for me to coordinate with my sister's Fourth Doctor costume and her K-9 robot dog.  We made the minor mistake of standing in front of the convention's TARDIS, where the throngs of other attendees kept us posing for pictures for a couple hours.  While there, we met two girls cosplaying as the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors.  The four of us decided to be one of the entries into the group cosplay competition that day, and we joked that next year we would do all Eleven Doctors.  

After a thousand hours or so of sewing, crocheting, and fabricating (and what felt like just as many hours of networking to find other women the right size), we were able to form our group.  My sister created velvet frock coats, satin vests, cravats, a question-mark umbrella handle, and my magnificent Eighteenth Century ballgown done in the colors of the Sixth Doctor's outlandish costume.  We arrived at the convention and went to sign up for the masquerade, only to discover that not only were we required to agree to be on the show, but also that we had to do a skit.  In speaking to other entrants, we realized that no one had been aware of this requirement, and that in fact the skit requirement had been added only a day before the competition.  We, like our fellow competitors, frantically threw a skit together. (We show up at 30:08 into the video.)
The actual masquerade was an exercise in humiliation and frustration.  We went first, which allowed us to see how miserably outclassed all the locals were by the "heroes."  They had gigantic props, soundtracks with prerecorded dialog, light cues, grips, and smoke effects.  One group had cosplayers who owned their own production company and had done a gig for Guillermo del Toro; the other had Yaya Han herself, who boldly came out of "retirement" from competing at cons to compete at a con with no professional/ amateur split.  The only local group that was able to put together a decent performance was a group of fairies who also dance at the local Renaissance Festival.  We sat there in stunned anger.  We'd been told there was a race, and so we had trained to run, only to discover that our competition was driving Ferraris.
During the judges' deliberation, we were told by the "Heroes" staff that we needed to leave the audience and go behind the show curtain.  Through a gap in the curtains, I saw one of the audience members -- also cosplaying as a Tenth Doctor as about 40 other people did -- stand up, yell "I love all of your costumes except the Syfy plants!" and walk out of the auditorium. A cheer rose up from the crowd -- or at least what was left of the crowd, as most people had gone home after being so frustrated with the show.  We joined it.  We were tired, and hungry, and frustrated that a dream that had started out so wonderfully had been overrun by people competing in our con for no other reason than they needed a place to film their "heroes." 
It was at this point that things got even worse.  One of the "heroes" began to screech at us.  "How dare you!  I spent $2000 of my own money flying this here!"  I'll admit it -- I lost my temper, and this seemed like my only chance to have any of these "heroes" actually listen to me.  Yelling, I tried to explain this was the only chance most of us get to go to a convention, and since we can only afford to compete once or so a year, it means a lot to us.  I didn't think to add that only one of us Eleven even makes $2000 in a month.  More screaming followed so I turned my back.  My sister, the former teacher and so more used to handling screaming girls, helped gather us out of the backstage and when the "heroes" swore at her and tried to get her to respond, she just repeated, "We're done here."
Back in the auditorium for the awards ceremony, we sat in sullen silence, trying not to even look at the direction of the "heroes."  We were staying out of good sportsmanship, with no expectation of getting anything.  We did notice the judges though -- particularly how a Syfy producer went up to the judges table, said something, and when he left one judge's face had an especially sour look.  They finally began to announce the awards.  "For craftsmanship, the award goes to ... Doctor Who!" We exploded.  We hugged each other, we hugged the other local competitors -- a win for any of us locals was a win for all of us.  In fact, we were so busy hugging each other that the MC had to remind us to send someone on stage to collect the award.
But we couldn't leave yet -- the show wanted us to get in the confessional room to get our side of the drama.  Realizing that far from a documentary, we were dealing with an exploitative reality show, my sister refused to comment.  I don't think I've ever seen someone so angry at someone else's calm.  We filed down the hall to collect our belongings stashed on the con floor (as no one had expected the competition to last two hours past when the con floor closed.)  After dealing with security, we began to pack the superfluous costume pieces when three of the "heroes" with camera in tow confronted us.  Again we let my sister take the lead of deflating the drama and not letting the "friendly chat" devolve into the catfight the "heroes" kept trying to steer it into.
It is one thing to know that reality shows are manipulatively edited, and quite another to be turned into a reality show villain.  From early reviews I've seen, the show tries to make it look like we were heckling them throughout the show, that we picked on the girls and stole "their" prize.  I will say, I'm sorry I yelled at the "heroes."  I'm sorry I gave them any footage for this show.  I'm even sorry that we competed at all, even if it meant waiting another year to see our dream come true -- when it comes to reality shows, the only winning move truly is not to play. 
At the same time, when one sits down to a honest game of poker only to realize that one is against a couple of card sharks with a stacked deck, one's anger at the unfairness is not quenched by the exultation of beating the card sharks at their own game.  I make no apologies for being angry at "Heroes of Cosplay," 51 Minds for producing it, Syfy for airing it, and Yaya Han and all her other "heroes" for being part of something so sleazy.

Edit 9/20: I have posted an apology to Becky, Holly, Jessica, and Chloe here: