Has geek gone mainstream?

Mary Jane Watson

Photographer: Sandy Smith Photography

There was a time when geek was an insult. Being a geek meant being an unemployed, overweight man who spent your time in your mother’s basement, or it meant that if you asked the mainstream. It seems to me though, that after the whole ‘geek chic’ movement, geek has moved beyond being ‘cool’, and is now just…normal. Geek is the new mainstream.

Some of this mainstreaming can be put down to what’s on our screens. With Marvel Studios churning out hit after hit, our cinema screens have more than a touch of nerd. Sitting pretty in amongst the top ten highest grossing movies of 2017 so far are Logan,  Gaurdians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and The Lego Batman Movie. Still to come this year and sure to challenge that list? Thor: Ragnarok. Wonder Woman. Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Spider-Man: Homecoming. Noticing a theme? And that’s just this year.

The trend for geek is hitting or TV screens too. Everyone and their dog seems to be hooked on Game of Thrones, a series based on a pretty classic sword and sorcery style fantasy. Netflix has hit a home run with it’s Marvel offering, with what seemed like half the planet going gaga for Daredevil and Jessica Jones. 

Games of all times are looking pretty cool now. There are currently three game themed cafes near me (that I know of) offering a side of video games, table-top games or retro arcade games to go with your coffee. Among the list of YouTube’s highest earning stars are several Let’s Play or gaming channels, like Pewdiepie. 

What about fashion? Well, have have you been into a Primark recently? The high-street fast fashion giant has a range to keep any nerd happy, with clothing, accessories and home decor themed on Marvel and DC heroes, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Pokemon…not to mention the outrageously popular Disney line. With the release of Suicide Squad, the beauty gurus took to YouTube to share tutorials on how to recreate Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn makeup. In this month’s Glamour Magazine a double page spread was dedicated to the runway collections which seemed to be influenced by the warrior women of Game of Thrones, The Force Awakens and Wonder Woman. 

Lately, my Facebook feed has been flooded with friends who probably wouldn’t define themselves as nerdy, sharing things like Harry Potter themed bar crawls, their reviews of Guardians of the Galaxy, or their excitement for the next MCU installment. Even cosplay isn;t weird anymore. Not so long ago, the first question I was always asked was what on earth cosplay was, whereas now, people come up to me in the kitchen at work, or walk over at blogging events, to tell me the character they’re harbouring a secret desire to cosplay.

Personally, I love it. The more the merrier. What do you think? Is geek still uncool, or are we at the cutting edge?

Cosplay 101: Pressure

Black Canary Cosplay

Photographer: Sandy Smith Photography

If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. But how far should you push yourself? For most of us, cosplay being more than a hobby is a distant dream. We can’t all be Jessica Nigri.

Despite the fact it’s meant to be fun, however, I do see a lot of cosplayers putting themselves under major pressure. With the internet, and cosplay Facebook pages, it is possible to become ‘cosplay famous’, but it also makes it very, very easy to make comparison with other cosplayers. We see them announcing guest bookings at conventions and wonder why nobody ever asks us. We see them getting adoring comments and wonder why our costume doesn’t inspire such devotion. We see them churning out a new costume every week, and spend an hour staring at our own bank account trying to find some spare cash to buy piles of worbla and LED lights. We see them with 30,000 likes and feel bad about our own numbers.

In a word? Don’t. Cosplay is meant to be fun. Agonising over success sucks all the joy from it. It’s also impossible to know how that other cosplayer got where they are. For all we know, they emailed 100 conventions before getting that one booking. They could be spending hundreds on Facebook ads to get those likes and those comments. Maybe they’re turning out costumes so fast because they’re wracking up some wicked credit card debt to buy supplies. Or maybe, they just have a bigger salary, or more time, than you to spend on these things. It can be tough, but not letting it get to you is important.

The best cure is to focus on you and your work. Mute those pages that make you feel crappy about yourself. Don’t go and look at them. There’s a drag saying; don’t get bitter, get better. If you think you deserve more success, the only way to get there is with some real hustle. Concentrate on creating the best costumes you can, and work hard on pushing your public profile. Get over your insecurities and make sure you’re posting content on social media every day. Be brave and a bit a cheeky and reach out to those booking cosplayers for events. That’s allowed. Make a polite enquiry, letting them know you’re interested in their event. You never know what might happen.

Cosplay 101: What Should I Take To a Convention?

Cosplay 101

Conventions are fun places to be, but it can be super tiring, and hard on your costumes. Pack yourself a little cosplay convention survival kit and it’ll make your day much easier. Here’s my top items that you should take to a convention.

Plasters  – Because cosplay shoes are often stupid and give blisters. Pack some plasters so you can cover any rubbed places on your feet. You can buy proper blister plaster which are great if your shoes are rubbing the back of your heels.

Sewing kit  – Cosplay mishaps happen. Packing a small sewing kit with some thread and sewing needles is an excellent idea in case of accidents. Not all cons have a cosplay repair desk. Throw some safety pins in too.

Hairpins – If you’re wearing a wig, or have created a fancy hairdo, pack some spare pins, in case of slipping. A hair band or two wouldn’t hurt either.

Business cards  – Take your cards, so you can give them to people who take your photo so they can find you afterwards.

Makeup – At the least, take some face powder to reduce shine, and whatever lip product you’ve used so you can reapply after eating and drinking.

Water  – Drink lots of it. Please? Bottled water is always over priced at cons, so if you can, take a bottle in with you.

Phone charger or power bar  – You will hammer your phone battery taking photos. Take something to charge it with so you don’t get stranded.

Cash  – Don’t assume the stalls will accept card. Lots don’t, and the queues for the cash machine are always hideous. Take cash out before you get to the con.

Optional extras  – Pack some snacks, or sandwiches if you’re really organised, to save spending on convention food. Pain killers, tissues and make-up wipes are a great idea too for surprise headaches, spills or snotty noses. Cosmetic tape can save you from cosplay slips.

 

Pack your survival kit into a bag that goes with your costume, and away you go!

Anything other convention essentials I’ve missed?