EDIT: Hey, DJ Ranma S here… It seems that Men’s Fitness got the gist of things and pulled the article down. But we may post a followup editorial to this. Great job in letting them know that our voice was heard!
Anyone with any kind of nerdy interest has and continues to be stereotyped for having such eclectic tastes. And yeah, among the stereotypes is that of being [choose all that apply] overweight/unwashed/pale/ugly/neckbearded. And while in the most extreme cases these are all applicable, they’re a small facet of the fandoms, not the grand majority.
Yes, we here at Anime Jam Session get it. But here’s the thing: in the same way the games, series, comic books, etc. are unimaginably diverse and unique, so too are their fans. Even the most physically fit and visually appealing individuals who are fans of video games, anime, what have you, are considered fans—nothing more, nothing less. If you share the same interests as us, we don’t care what you look like or what kind of problems you have; our similar interests make us cool with one another. We’re, of course, human beings.
But don’t tell that to Men’s Fitness magazine, and especially don’t tell that to Jordan Burchette.
Soon after NYCC/AF ended, Burchette “wrote” an article for Men’s Fitness‘s website, essentially his own review of the con. It’s entitled: “Flabby Versions of Your Favorite Superheroes!” What followed next doesn’t really qualify under the contemporary definitions of “journalistic integrity”, so I’m gonna call it by what it is—condescending, passive-aggressive, mean-spirited bullying. He spends the entirety of the article cutting down the con goers (and really, anyone who has nerdy interests to begin with) for showing themselves in public dressed up as their favorite character, and, in the process, for not living up to the herculean/supermodel physiques put forth by comic book artists and health magazines such as Men’s Fitness. Oh, and he also took a potshot at some of the cops working security during the convention, giving them the same disparaging remarks as he did the con goers. I’m sure New York’s Finest really appreciated that. Even worse, this is not the first time Burchette looked down his nose at NYCC or even nerds/otaku in general. He wrote a similar article three years ago (with the far less subtle tagline “Dorks on Parade”) for the honor- and journalistic-integrity-bankrupt Maxim, which was filled with, well, more of the same.
And then Men’s Fitness had the audacity to go on their Facebook page and tell the people they were mocking to have a sense of humor over the whole deal.
First thing’s first—that article wasn’t funny, so we’re not laughing. Both these articles, and indeed the very pathos that allows this kind of attitude to proliferate, is utter bullshit. Speaking to someone as though you have the incredibly unjustified notion that they are “beneath you” and then tacking on some weak just kidding~ justification does not magically undo your hurtful, ignorant comments. If anything, it just makes them worse. Telling someone to “lighten up” and essentially just accept the fact that you’re mocking them does nothing more than make you look like an unrepentant asshole. To say nothing of how some of Men’s Fitness‘s readers might be dorks themselves, and will most likely respond to you speaking down to them by, I dunno…cancelling their subscriptions. I guess you’re operating under a different definition of “customer service” than the rest of the world…
Second thing: have you ever cosplayed before? Disregarding the journeys to a particular convention and all that entails (room, transportation, etc.), cosplaying is an expensive and time consuming hobby, and putting together your own costume isn’t as easy as it sounds. At the easiest, you can modify existing clothes in your wardrobe to turn into a character’s “civilian” wear. If you (most likely) can’t do that, then your best bet is to assemble the attire from scratch, and you better have good material and be good with a needle & thread or a sewing machine, otherwise it’s gonna look bad. Commissioning a costume exists as an option, albeit it an expensive last resort; finding a reliable and affordable costumer can consume just as much time as making it yourself. Most cosplayers aren’t happy until their cosplay looks exactly like the character him/her/itself, but having their picture taken and their cosplay gushed over by fellow convention goers makes it all worth it—even Anime Jam Session staffers can vouch for that. (To put it into perspective, a friend of the site spent the entire week before NYCC/AF assembling a Terra cosplay from scratch, piece by piece. Come the day she wore it to the con, she fucking killed with it on.)
Oh, and by the way, it’s very interesting that the article comes from Men’s Fitness, because it certainly comes off as being written with the “high school jock” mentality in mind, bullying other students who don’t play sports, are smaller, are smarter, and aren’t as loud and boisterous as they are—the kind of people who now refer to the nerds they used to pick on in high school by words such as “boss” and “sir”.
It can be very nerve wracking going out in public when cosplaying for the first time or for debuting a new cosplay. Unless someone goes out of their way to be an obnoxious douche, people in the cosplaying community stick up for one another, and for the most part, support newcomers and new cosplays. Communities like this thrive on the camaraderie put forth by supporting newcomers, building up successors, and making sure everyone has fun doing it. We aren’t gonna put up with shit like Jordan Burchette and his incredibly asinine writings. Every convention is the first convention for somebody out there, and alienating someone from such a hobby because of the ignorance of someone who’ll forever be on the outside looking in is absolutely inexcusable. We as a community don’t answer to his ilk, and I for one will not abide the slings and arrows of someone who’s never gotten into character for even a minute call one of my kind a nerd.
And if you’re still contemplating going to a convention after reading his articles, let me say this: fuck him, fuck Maxim, and fuck Men’s Fitness. Go to a convention, dress up as your favorite character, and have a good time.
By the way, Burchette, do the people in the pictures in your articles know they’re being featured in your article? I’m just saying…
Links to the offending articles: