Recovery from last summer's foot surgery continues on very, very slowly. I tried cutting the lawn for the first time since last August a couple of days ago and have been quite miserable ever since. Honestly, the one time I can actually feel something in one of my extremities, and it's the feeling of being clocked by the Incredible Hulk....
So in my various stages of discomfort, I've been spending more time on Tumblr and Blogger and whatnot, and I've noticed some things in the cosplay community which I find upsetting. Here they are in no particular order:
• Patreon. Using Patreon is way, way up. For those unfamiliar with it, Patreon is a website for artists wherein sponsors pledge a certain amount of money every month to an artist or costumer in exchange for access to exclusive content. Now, originally I thought that Patreon was a great idea. There is a lot of cost associated with cosplay; materials alone can run into the hundreds if not thousands of dollars. So putting oneself on Patreon to get monthly sponsors to help foot the bill seemed like a great idea, and one I was wholeheartedly willing to support. Unfortunately, most of the cosplayers I used to follow and admire have discovered that pornography is where the real money is. So many costumers have started doing "boudoir" versions of characters that it's getting a little ridiculous, and if you subscribe to their "platinum tier" pledge levels, the NSFW porn-y stuff can be yours to see. I think this started when the Playboy Bunny version of characters such as Thor and Hawkeye began to catch on. From there it was a short trip to posing in a bra and panties and white wig and calling yourself the "bedroom version" of Storm from the X-Men. I'm happy to help support elaborate costume builds like Halo armor, but I'm damned if I'll pay for your lingerie. If I want panty shots, I'll read Maxim. (I don't.) I don't mean to be prudish, I really don't. I realize that there are some guys who have always had the hots for Velma from Scooby Doo, and who love seeing sexy versions of that character. It's the crass commercialism of it all that I find offensive, and costumers who I really used to admire, costumers who have a tremendous amount of skill and love for the characters, have fallen into this trap of purveying soft-core porn. And you don't really need financial help to put together a Velma costume. C'mon, it's an orange turtleneck, nerd glasses and knee socks. We're not talking a suit of armor from World of Warcraft here....
It's just greed, pure and simple. And please don't tell me that the money from the bedroom shots goes to pay for the more elaborate character costumes. Most of the cosplayers haven't shown off anything more elaborate than their underpants since they discovered how lucrative Patreon can be. There are several well-known names from the cosplay community earning over $1,500 a month -- more than my income, for sure! -- for sharing pictures of costumes consisting of cat ears and a lacy bra. And while most of them don't show actual nudity, or only "tasteful nudity" there is usually a "platinum plus" level where one can almost, almost, see what Monty Python used to call the "naughty bits."
I do not, nor will I ever, subscribe to Patreon, but I became aware of it because it is relentlessly promoted in the social media feeds from these costumers, along with teaser images and promises that even more can be seen in the higher-level tiers of support. Once I see this, I unfollow, because I know that there won't be much coming in the way of costumes any more.
• The "Virgin Killer" pictures. Enough already with this. As I understand it, some idiot in Japan came up with a design for a cable-knit sweater with a really low cut back and lots of side-boob that purportedly will so arouse even the most timid of virgin males that he will approach the woman wearing it and have sex with her. This is so wrong, on so many levels, that I don't even know where to start. And 80% of the cosplayers I used to follow (note the use of the past tense) are putting up teasing pictures on their websites and their Patreons of their version of the Virgin Killer. It's another symptom of this recent descent of cosplay into pornography, and I really hate to see it.
I was going to insert an image of the sweater here, but I couldn't find one that wasn't offensive. Maybe one of the cartoon ones, but even they give me a bad taste, just because of the whole concept of the thing. You can search for "virgin killer sweater" or "virgin killer jumper" if you're really curious. The number of DIY patterns for the thing will amaze you.
I'm really sad to see a hobby that I love go down this path. A couple of years ago, comic conventions had to start banning costume weapons from the convention floor because the level of detail and accuracy -- organizers were afraid of actual weapons slipping into the convention. Now they're going to have to start becoming decency police as well. When I bring my kid to a con, the last thing I want to have to do is explain "Virgin Killer."