Cosplay Bitterness

We all have a Mecca of sorts. A place in the world that we dream of going someday, because it has some sort of significance to us. Some people would love to visit the North Pole and have a visit with Santa Claus, because they love being cold. Others would love to visit the homeland of their great-great ancestors, because they actually like their family. Others would love to go to Japan to visit the ancient temples because they want to be a ninja. Some would love to visit New Zealand because they are geeks and love the Lord of the Rings.

The Mecca for LOTR geeks.

For a video game geek like me, my mecca is E3, the video game conference that ruled them all. Unfortunately, it may have been downsized due to its lack of popularity with the Big Video Game Companies of Campus. In the glory days of E3, it was hosted in one place, the Los Angeles Convention center every June. Every June, I would pretend to work for the week, but would spend most of the day listening to the conference on my headphones. Then, the convention started to change. One year, they tried to split it up into different places across the LA area. The next year, they opened it up to the general public. Then, the popular video game companies became too cool for E3 and started doing their own events.

Then just as E3 was about to win the BCOC (Big Companies on Campus) back in 2020, COVID dropped a big old bomb on the convention and blew it up. Cancelled in 2020, online in 2021, cancelled in 2022, and again in 2023. Sad emoji face for this guy. I now have to do actual work in June, which is really dumb. Who actually works in June?

Keanu Reeves loves to cosplay as John Wick.

E3 was a huge cosplay event. Besides Comic-Con in San Diego, E3 was the biggest place in the world to do cosplay. If you don’t know what cosplay is, you probably don’t know what TikTok or Instagram is either. Cosplay or “costume play” is where fans of a TV show, movie, comic book, book or anime dress up as one of the characters in the world of those creations. In other words, it’s Halloween, except it happens whenever you want, but especially at big geek conventions, like E3 and Comic-Con.

Cosplay has been around since the 1930’s, so your great-grandma and grandpa probably did it, but it started getting really popular in the last 10-15 years. In the early days of the 2000’s, it was just a few geeky fans cutting up boxes in their mom’s basements and crudely painting them to resemble Sonic the Hedgehog. It would be similar to me trying to be Austin Powers for Halloween, by purchasing a cheap suit from Goodwill and buying some bad horn-rimmed glasses.

The early days of cosplay.

But then, Comic-Con, E3 and other big conventions started popping up, and the cosplayers started getting better at their craft, oftentimes spending months and all their money, making slick and lifelike reenactments of popular characters.

Soon, people were asking to take pictures with the profession looking cosplays, and cosplayers started charging money just to get your picture taken with them.

Now there is a whole cosplay industry, where people do it full time. They have famous Instagram and Tik Tok accounts where they show behind the scenes of how they are building their outfits and showing them at conventions. It’s pretty wild.

Cosplay nowadays.

I knew even back when I was 7 or 8 that cosplay would never be for me, because Halloween was just about the candy for me. The first time my mom made me a custom costume for Halloween, it was a clown outfit. I was so excited to wear it, until I showed up at school and everyone was creeped out. After that horrific experience, I didn’t even want to wear it trick-or-treating. I realized three things at the age of 8.

  1. Clowns are creepy.
  2. I hate wearing costumes.
  3. I don’t like to build things.

Because of 2 of those things, I was never destined to be a cosplayer. In the conventional way.

But in a sense, I cosplay every day. Mostly at work. I cosplay as a person that is competent at his job. They think I know what I’m doing, but they are dead wrong. I certainly cosplay like I do, but when asked by someone like a manager, what I actually do here, I cosplay an answer. I use fancy, made-up words to distract, and misdirect. As soon as someone asks me in-depth questions about what it is that I do here, I pretend I have a meeting or an important email I have to get to.

I cosplay being a husband. 22 years ago, I signed a contract promising that I would kill all the spiders, buy her a fancy car, get her flowers on all the special occasions, and be romantic and stuff. I still haven’t fixed the sink and haven’t kept myself in peak physical form. But I’ve been cosplaying one for 22 years now. I don’t think I will win any husband cosplay awards. And for some reason, I haven’t used enough dye to make my grays go away.

Most of all, I cosplay like I’m a writer. I think of a few subjects, do some Pitch Perfect like mashups of words and cosplay like any of my posts make sense. Some people read and have actual comments on what I write, so I’ve fooled enough people into thinking I’m a professional.

Cosplay isn’t always perfect, but sometimes, good enough works.


Bitter Cosplay Ben


20 thoughts on “Cosplay Bitterness

  1. Oh, no no no, Mr. Bitter! Cosplay began long before the early 2000s and at a very high level, too. Probably it got its biggest boost from the Star Trek crowd, but I went to a convention in 1984 and some of those folks had done awesome work. Yeah, there was still ‘cardboard and not great’ versions, but those people were serious. (It was around earlier, with Star Wars, but ST fans really made it take off initially, I think.)

    As a lazy, innocent bystander, I could appreciate the craftsmanship even if I wasn’t going to join them. I’m like you – I cosplay in the shadows and hope people leave me alone.


    • You’re definitely right. I know that cosplay has been around for much longer (I did write that it was being done as early as the 1930’s in the post somewhere), and it was popular for a segment of people in the 80’s, but the mainstreamification of it certainly happened in the last 10 years.
      The nice thing about cosplay is that you can just cosplay as someone who is pretending to know what they are doing.


    • I never would either. Even those few years that my wife found some really good costumes for Halloween, I got way more attention that I would have liked and the costume was so hot, I couldn’t even concentrate on my job. I pretty much hate wearing costumes, but if I was paid a lot of money to do it, I might reconsider…


    • Which makes it even more of a bummer that it seems like E3 will never come back. It being cancelled this year for the 4th year in a row seems like it might be done for.
      Dang Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft for ruining it for us!


  2. This is an interesting and very entertaining post, Ben. Our youngest kiddo was super into cosplay when they were in high school like 12 to 15 years ago. At the time, I thought it was super weird but it was fun to see all the photos they took of themselves and their cosplay friends when they went to ComicCons. Looking back, I’m pretty certain if it had been a thing when I was in high school back in the 80’s, I’d be doing it. Maybe my Hubs and I ought to do cosplay and attend a ComicCon one of these years?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Back in our day, we would have been looked at as pariah’s that dressed up like weirdo’s, but nowadays, you can make millions dressing up for Halloween every day. It’s a crazy world we live in. I think you and your hubs should totally go for it. Especially if you are really good at making costumes.

      Liked by 1 person

        • It’s really funny to see how people get careers and get famous nowadays. Back in my day, the internet and social media didn’t exist, so careers in cosplay, video games and internet companies didn’t exist. Now, all these new opportunities exist, and I would have paid my pinky toe to get into competitive gaming.

          Liked by 1 person

        • “Back in my day”…ha ha! That was “my day” too friend! I’m a Gen Xer so I’m with you. It is fascinating all the careers out there though as a result of the internet/social media, isn’t it? Also…just your pinky toe?!


        • I’m just very careful to assume that someone is my age, because, you know, they might be a lot younger, and would hate that I called them old. That would make them bitter. But, yeah, Gen X’ers are pretty awesome. We grew up pre-internet, but still know how the internet and social media work. And yeah, just my pinky toe. I’m not giving up an arm or leg.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I like costumes, but I don’t like having to spend money or do a ton of work on them, so I guess I’ll never be a cosplayer. Unless I’m cosplaying at being me, in which case I do a spectacular job, and I think I’ll keep up the good work. 👏🏽


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