Tuesday, 29 October 2013

On MCM Expo and the Absence of Gender in Cosplaying

Last weekend my girlfriend, Caroline and I visited the MCMComic Con expo at Excel near Canary Wharf. This was the second time we’d attended – last year had been a very packed exhibition with a guest appearance from fantasy’s favourite dwarf, Warwick Davis. (Peter Dinklage still has a bit of a way to come in my opinion; maybe he’ll be there by the end of Game ofThrones).

As we arrived later in the day than last year, it was easier to navigate around the countless stalls exhibiting treasures from all parts of the science fiction, fantasy, horror and comic book worlds. My personal favourite was the Back To The Future stall, allowing people the chance to get their picture taken in the immortal DeLorean wearing Marty McFly’s puffer jacket.

But above all other things that made the con such a blissful escape from the outside world, it was the cosplayers who made it memorable. Caroline even took the time to dress up in a very handsome Harley Quinn costume inspired by the Gothic Lolita fashion she adores. 

 Caroline as Harley Quinn with Poison Ivy and Catwoman.

Here are just a few of the many pictures we took:

 Steampunk Snow White, looking very badass.

Daft Punk made a guest appearance.

A Steampunk warrior.

Team Rocket! (Hey James, what did you do with that bikini?)

A family day out for some special feline friends.

Meeting a Hero

No comic book convention is complete without a guest appearance from a notable actor, writer or director. This year’s guest was British actor Danny John-Jules, famed for his portrayal of Cat in the legendary Red Dwarf

It was certainly a pleasure meeting such a funny man, but I wanted to meet him because he starred in the 90s TV show The Demon Headmaster where he played gameshow host Eddie Hair. Interestingly, Jules told me the actor Terrence Hardiman, who portrayed the megalomaniac teacher, lived close to his house.

I’m not much of a ‘fanboy’ when it comes to meeting celebrities, but without The Demon Headmaster, I don’t think I would have become the person I am now. That TV show introduced me to totalitarianism, enforced my hatred of high school and taught me to always question authority.

 Here’s to Mr Jules. Hope I see you on TV again soon. 

Comment: The Absence of Gender in Cosplaying

One of the things I noticed this year is how cosplayers dress up in their favourite characters regardless of their gender. This reminded me of a female coursemate at college who was obsessed with The Legend of Zelda and attended every meet up and video game con dressed as Link, the game’s hero. Seeing male cosplayers dressed as female heroes like Lara Croft and Chell of Portal was excellent because it gave me the impression that gender does not matter in the comic book and gaming world – everyone has a favourite and isn’t scared to show their admiration.

Furthermore, seeing girls dressed as male heroes and embracing the character they represent made it clear that video gaming is no longer a ‘boys club’ as so many critics tend to brand it. I am aware that there is still a pretty long way to go for the video game when it comes to female characters – but that proverbial journey has certainly begun. The recent Tomb Raider game was, in my opinion, the spark needed to start the battle for better women characters in gaming, and who better to make it so, than the fans who devote their lives to the world of cosplay and comic books.

Science fiction, graphic novels and video gaming is cynically maligned as ‘escapism’ by many social critics – but it’s certainly a good label if they represent a world where gender is more equal and understood than in the patriarchal reality.

See you next year MCM. Keep up the good work.

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