The Spider-verse: What it means to be part of the cosplay community

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As kids we all aspired to be a superhero or we had a superhero we looked up to, someone who made us feel safe during the bad times, some people envisioned their Dads as Superman or Batman and their Mum’s as Wonder Woman, these people that could do so much but never seemed to break a sweat and seemed almost invincible to you.

Growing up, you find more appreciation for the costumes, you find a deeper understanding and connection to a specific character or set of characters, you end up putting yourself into this fictional world that not only makes you feel safe but makes you feel whole. In an interview with Kevin Smith, Stan Lee once said that “that’s the great thing about Spiderman, it’s the reason I created him, because once he put that mask on he could be anyone, he could be White, Black, Hispanic, Asian it doesn’t matter, you could be him and go through all those stories together, that’s why I wrote him how I did, I wanted a character people could connect to so I made the most down to earth hero that I could.”

But what does this mean for the Cosplay community?

In recent media such as The Big Bang Theory you hear about conventions such as San Diego Comic Con, a place where people can meet, enjoy nerd pop culture and most of all… COSPLAY!

When attending my first comic con, I noticed that people were coming together in their grouped cosplays, whether you were dressed as a Marvel, DC, Anime or Gaming character or even celebrities not from nerd pop culture, it didn’t matter you were accepted, you’d take photos together, you’d blend in and create this group dynamic that you wouldn’t have in your everyday life. Now while at first, I wasn’t very body confident and wasn’t up for cosplaying characters I truly wanted to, people I met at the convention helped build my confidence, they helped me find a way to dress as who I wanted to dress as and not feel stared at or overwhelmed. That’s when my first true cosplay fell into place, with my love of all things Spider-Man I decided to cosplay Scarlet Spider and find out what the cosplay community was, changed my life forever.

I saw a whole new part of cosplay, I saw a level of creativity even more intense than the costumes themselves, the photo and video shoots that were planned months ahead of time or sometimes on the spot, to show the character in situations from the comics or in dream situations, the possibilities were endless. And when I got to talk to members of what’s referred to as the Spider community, I met people who made me feel not only involved, but like I belonged. Since then I’ve attended every Spider-Verse meet up since.

But cosplay isn’t all sunshine and rainbows per say, there is a darker side to the community, or more so situations that negatively affect the cosplay community. Much like the Me Too and Times Up movement in recent years, the cosplay community has had its own controversy, one that I have personally been affected by. In 2014, the cosplay community coined the phrase: Cosplay is not Consent. Now while some of you may never have heard this phrase, I can assure you, after reading this you will never forget it.

During my first attendance to MCM dressed as Scarlet Spider, people were coming up to me, asking for photos and complimenting my costume. I felt like a Rockstar and was more than happy to oblige… that was until one situation happened, during a photo shoot with another Spider cosplayer I was having the time of my life, until someone came up behind me and grabbed me, at first I thought it was a friend that I was with having a joke, but no, a con attendee was full on grabbing me and running off, he would then follow myself and other cosplayers around the convention hall and continue to do the same thing, it caused me to feel so insecure that I was ready to leave the convention, I had to have a friend stand behind me at all times just so I felt like it wouldn’t happen again.

It scared and scarred me, for a while I was unsure of putting the costume back on and though the person was found out and banned from MCM for sexual assault, it’s a situation that happens all too often. Some people feel that just because you’re in a skin tight suit, or a cosplay that shows off some part of your body which they can sexualise, that it’s okay to grab, ogle or do poses that you would never do in everyday life and the unfortunate situation is, because you don’t know who the person is, because they run off, because the conventions are so large, most of the time it goes undealt with, no matter how much you report it, no matter how far you take it. This happens much too often to male and female cosplayers alike, when attending conventions yes fair enough the costume may make the person feel sexy and attractive, a feeling which possibly they don’t have on the day to day, but it does not give anyone the right to lay their hands on you, it wouldn’t be done in everyday life so why do it at an event where everyone is supposed to be enjoying themselves and feeling safe.

During my time as a cosplayer, I’ve met some incredible people who’ve had situations at conventions themselves or who’ve had opinions on the community that I felt needed to be heard so I wanted to bring those opinions forward to all of you.

‘Really, cosplay means a lot to me, but at the same time the community can be vicious and cruel in some places and wonderful and kind in others. Cosplay in a sense is a release for me, there’s nothing I love more than pouring my soul into a new project and getting behind my sewing machine, but the toxicity of the community sometimes makes me wish I wasn’t a part of it, it’s stressful and people within it can be cruel to no end. I’d define the community itself as cruel, harsh, wonderful and brilliant all at once, because it can be those things all at once’ – Ellena Ezreal Camp

‘People struggle with belonging. With mental health issues and feel that they aren’t connected to a certain kind of group. You don’t have to, but the cosplay community is filled with so many misfits and outcasts that all feel the same way that they end up belonging together. I met some of my best friends through cosplay and that was because of the characters that we had mutual interest in. It’s hard to find someone who likes all of the same things as you, but when you see someone dressed up as your favourite character from a film or niche comic, you instantly have that connection. The love of the character’– Logan Wolfe

‘To me this community is all about bringing people together no matter who you are, whether if you’re a social outcast, or shy, or have no friends, or just different, there’s people in this community that will get you and just like you for you. Everyone is unified by the one thing they have in common, whether your cosplay is handmade or bought, or comic related, or anime related. It brings people together cause they all love the same thing in one single way, plus it’s pretty awesome’ – Harry Mustafa

If I’m honest my personal experience in the cosplay community has not been massively supportive. It seems like everyone I’ve interacted with or seen interact with each other prefers to split their time between bragging about their cosplays and putting down other people’s. It’s been quite sad to watch and is why I just stick with my friends when I go to cons instead of talking to groups of people. However, when there is a sense of supportiveness they can be a lovely bunch – I’ve just not seen that much’ – James Hameed

‘It’s a second family, inclusive and something that connects you to likeminded people, I’ve met so many close friends through cosplay and it’s just all-round good fun. Plus, I don’t have to pretend to be an adult when I can be someone else! Some people use it as a form of escape from day to day life to be another person for a day’ – Shannon Jade

‘It probably means the same to me as it does to a lot of people… freedom. Freedom to do my art, my craft and gives me the freedom to be who I want to be, how I want to be and when I want to be, it gives me the opportunity to make new friends and acquaintances with celebrities and express my inner self, I spend my time making costumes and being who I want to be, not who society wants me to be’ – William Conley

I, like many others in the cosplay community, suffer with poor mental health. I’ve met countless others who do. It is a correct stereotype, but not 100% of the community are as such. This however does not mean I am unkind, rude or inappropriate to others I meet within the community. Sadly though, many others find excuses to do so. The cosplay community in itself is not a bad group, it just has bad individuals. And as long as I have my close friends with me during these events, where I can share a night in the hotel room, with pizza and a few ciders. Making and wearing costumes to characters I love embodying, there isn’t another community I’d rather be a part of’ – Chazz Greenwood

So in the end, how would I define the cosplay community, I’d say overall the cosplay community is like a family, when you find the right group you finally feel as though you belong, but much like every family, there’s always one bad apple that tries to ruin the bunch and though some people attempt to make conventions feel unsafe and take things too far, for the majority cosplay is a safe haven, it’s a group of like-minded individuals who want to give something back to the community and creators that helped them be who they want to be. I probably wouldn’t be where I am in my life without the cosplay community and I know many feel the same, so it’s easy to throw around words like nerd and geek, but take a second to try it, give yourself that experience and find that camaraderie, take yourself out of your day to day life and just jump into a little bit of fantasy.

By Tommy Monkhouse

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

Creating sound for the Film Industry with Mark Ulano

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(Photography by Tony Zetterstrøm)

On 1st April 2019, the University of Greenwich film department was visited by Mark Ulano, the Multi Award Winning Production Sound Designer for films such as Titanic, Kill Bill and Iron Man to name but a few.

Mark hosted a lecture based on his position as a Sound Designer, what he had to do to be the Sound Designer he is today and what Sound Design truly means in the world of film.

When discussing the production process, he states that he starts where most other members of the industry usually start, when offered a job for a film he sits with the script. Now while some will read the script in their own time, Mark does not believe in that, he locks himself away from his family, friends and pets and makes sure that he read the script in one sitting. When reading the script he refuses to take an analytical/technical approach to it, but instead takes an objective approach to it.

He reads it as if it were a novel or something, to find if his attention has been caught, once he has read it and it has his attention, he contacts the director to have a sit down with them and then starts finding out what he needs to do. With this, he discusses a meeting with James Cameron: “During a meeting with Jim to discuss beginning work on Titanic, he said something to me which has stuck with me to this day – Don’t give me what I ask for, give me what I need!” He then asked the audience to think about it for a minute, what could be meant by that statement.

This led me to think about it and how, in a creative industry it’s fine attempting to do EXACTLY what a Director asks of you, or what the person in charge asks of you… BUT ARE YOU standing out to anyone? What impact are you making and what special thing are you doing to make this work yours?

During the time Mark gave the audience to think, he stated that “To this day I still have not figured out a specific answer to this, but I’ve found several way’s I think it could be answered, which led me to find MY TAKE on production sound” this shows that when being a filmmaker or someone in a creative industry, you should take the initiative to be different, take a stance that will make you memorable and be more likely to be hired.

He also discussed the importance of listening to even the smallest detail of what is said in the meeting with the Director. In one instance, he spoke about having worked on a Bruce Willis film, which he wasn’t allowed to name, but that said he discussed something, that allowed for the Director to know how thorough he was. “During my meeting with the Director for this project, we were coming to the end of our lunch and he made a statement which threw me off – Bruce is gonna call for a ‘SOUND PERSON’ while on set… ignore him, you and your crew ALL IGNORE HIM; I didn’t understand why but he wouldn’t say anything else. So I turned up to the set the next day and as I was told, half way through the shoot, Bruce called for sound, we all ignored him, no one went over and no one replied, after the break I finally went over and adjusted his microphone and he winked at me. It was then that I realised I was being tested, my team were being tested to know that we took direction and were being thorough and listened to the smallest detail.” Before hearing this, I never realised how important sliding small details into a conversation could be, it helped me understand that I need to do so to be able to know are people listening, are people truly respecting what I’m saying and will they do what I need them to, especially in such a professional environment.

I then had the opportunity to ask a question myself, which gave me an incredible insight into creating the disbelief in film through sound. I asked – “You worked on Iron Man 1 & 2 which much like Super 8 are films in the Sci Fi genre but unlike Super 8 is a film in the Superhero genre, which features more disbelief and sounds that would not normally be as prominent in our world like the armour being put together and taken apart? Could you discuss what it was like to create those sounds?” and Mark answered in a way I didn’t expect, instead of directly answering the question, he discussed the difference between John Favreau’s vision and the visions of James Cameron, Quentin Tarantino and JJ Abrams but to name a few, he said “You will never experience four more drastic differences when trying to create a film, you will never experience four more opposing ideas for what they want for sound, but that’s what I respected because each of them have their own approach, this allowed me to show them how I would then deliver what they need to them and make my impact, which has allowed me to work with them again.”

In the end, hearing all of this from someone who has had so many years in the industry gave me a new perspective on all creative professions I am involved in, hearing such inspiring insights I couldn’t go without letting others know his input on the industry and I hope you all enjoy hearing what he had to say.

If there’s a topic you’d like us to cover, or an issue that you think needs more awareness, let us know at thecrowsnestgre@gmail.com.

By Tommy Monkhouse

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

What happens when Gaming and Fitness come together?

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On Saturday 23rd February, Greenwich Anime and Gaming took to a new extreme; they arranged an event, which would bring light to how gaming could have a positive impact not just on physical health, but also mental health and the community.

This event was a Pokémon Go Charity Walk in aid of Special Effect Gaming charity; the walk was 20KM starting in Greenwich and ending at Avery Hill.

Now while there was a route that could have been taken just to focus on the Greenwich borough, the societies president Tommy Monkhouse (myself!) decided to step out of his comfort zone and attempt something even bigger. I contacted the Pokémon Go Bexley Group and begun working with their leader Natalie Forbes to create an event which would show community spirit. The walk would now cut through the Bexley borough and would bring two groups together that normally had no connection.

Now, while some of you may be wondering how this applies to physical and mental health, I took another step and not only arranged for the funds to go to a Gaming Charity that creates controllers for the disabled gamers, but I also decided to get in contact with as many societies as possible from the university and bring them together for one event. The majority of the societies that I contacted were sports themed, attempting to show how fitness and gaming had impacts on each other.

With this, other societies begun to come together to get involved including The Crows Nest itself, the Computing Society, the Hispanic Society and other members of the Student Union. Between the combined efforts of our societies plus the Bexley group the event was an overall success reaching a turn out of 50 people, with members joining and dropping off in different areas, showing not only dedication to the boroughs but a love for something that everyone had in common.

Greenwich Anime and Gaming is still currently raising money for the Charity but as of the event, they have raised £200 and counting. This money will be delivered to the charity at the end of April.

The events success was not just dependant on those that arranged it though, it was also dependant on those who participated, that said the members who did attend had nothing but positive feedback for the event.

Anime and Gaming’s own Treasurer, Keanu, was quoted as saying:

“I really enjoyed the walk, though it felt a bit long at times, you sort of lost track of time while you were doing it because it was just so fun and everyone was laughing with each other and just playing the game.”

While their storage manager was quoted as saying:

“we had a decent turnout, and some members even went further than anticipated originally, and the collaboration between societies and local groups was good”

Finally, the Crows Nest’s leader Nick stated,

“Yeah, it was really fun! I started playing the game again for a while when I came up to London and I’m glad I was able to go out and have a laugh with friends I already had, plus it was great to socialise and meet new people.”

In the end, this event showed that while some see gaming as a reason to sit around and be lazy, others use it to enjoy each others company, get active, and do something that they normally wouldn’t allowing for a new experience and to be able to do something that makes a difference.

By Tommy Monkhouse

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

Is there a place for Old School Ideals in a relationship in the 21st Century?

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Growing up in the 90’s, young men like myself were raised to be gentlemen towards women. When taking a woman/young lady out, we were to remember to be polite, to hold a door open, push a lady’s chair in for her, to pay for the meal/date, to offer your jacket if she is cold and to keep in mind how we would want our mothers, sisters and other women in our lives treated if they were out with a gentleman, and to treat the young lady the same way, to not expect anything in return.

Now while this is the case, this has come under some scrutiny in the 21st century. With equality being such an important factor in this generation, some people have started the argument that these old school ideals aren’t as viable anymore, are causing women to be judged as the weaker gender… but is this truly the case?

When looking into discussions about this in the media, we see that these factors are divided amongst different audiences. While some women believe it is an “unwritten rule” that the man should pay for the first date, others believe that women should be treated as equal and independent, if they wish to pay for the date it is their prerogative to do so, even if the man feels that he has been demasculinised.

Now while social media and media in general throws around words such as: feminazi, feminist and demasculinisation. I feel these terms are representations of biased opinions, an overly objective opinion from the person’s perspective, without a full understanding of the matter at hand. Women in the 21st century have been raised to believe that anything a man can do, a woman can do just as well, if not better, with icons from Cleopatra, to Rosa Parks to Rosie The Riveter. Though the media still commonly contradicts this, usually portraying women as stereotypes; examples of this usually including: Kitchen workers, housewives, nurses and teachers.

But in this generation we are noticing more so that this is not the case. Men are more commonly seen in kitchens as chefs as well as being more accepted as the stay at home parent, or even down to the point of both parents working and still making time for their children, males nurses are now seen a lot more especially within the media, with women becoming doctors and teaching more so having an even amount of males and females.

Now some of you may be wondering, how does this play into the argument of old school ideals in a relationship, and to that I say, it shows how while old school ideals are still in place in some format when it comes to the male and female demographic, work places and this generation are making a change. Showing that there is still a way to incorporate those old school ideals but to make equality a redeeming factor.

Going back to the relationship factor though, I decided to ask five men and five women their opinion on the topic, whether they feel old school ideals do still have a place. And while some of the answers were interesting, four of them stood out to me. The first two were arguments for old school standards:

One interviewee who requested to be unnamed is quoted as saying,

 “Absolutely! I was treated like that on a date and I love it! But I know a few girls that wouldn’t like that. I don’t see why, what’s wrong with being treated like a queen? Some women just want to be so independent it’s a bit annoying if you ask me.”

Rebecca Gibson’s quote following a similar outline,

“I do think there is room for these old school ideals, it makes a guy much more attractive if they offer to pay for the first date and hold the door for you… but I also think that women shouldn’t take advantage of that and should also offer to pay for dates and to do things that will make the guy feel special.”

Reading these quotes helped me realise there is a female demographic who enjoy a man being more chivalrous towards her, but at the same time seeing that even with that chivalry in place, it should be a two way street and there should be similar treatment for the man, not in sense that he should expect anything but more so that he deserves to be treated similarly to the woman.

Another female friend on the other hand is quoted as saying,

 “My partner had to convince me to pay for my coffee on our first date and thank god he didn’t insist on paying for the dinner, so not really, I think it’s an out dated standard.”

Now while I personally do not agree with the out dated standard quote, I appreciate and respect that a woman should be allowed to make her own decision in a relationship, that she should be allowed to make just as much of a decision as the man, though she still shows some understanding that in the end if the man is adamant there can be some sort of agreement reached.

The quote that caught my attention the most though was one of my male interviewee’s Logan Wolfe. Logan’s quote for me sat in the neutral category of standing for both sides of the argument, stating that: “I think chivalry has a place; it can be for either gender though. Where do these ideals sit in a gay relationship? Personally when I’m in a relationship, everything is equal. We each take turns or pay for our own meal. Maybe if it’s one of our birthdays then they get treated.

It’s also a very subjective thing. Some women like to be treated all the time, this obviously isn’t very fair, but if their partner has the money and likes to treat them, then that’s their thing.”

Logan’s quote shows that there’s a difference between chivalry and taking liberties, its about the relationship being an equal playing field, that if someone wants to be chivalrous then let them, do the same if you feel you need to or come to an agreement that can make both sides as happy as possible. If both sides are happy, then there shouldn’t be an issue from outside parties.

Now while I personally sit on the side of the man should be old school, as I would myself I respect that there are others with opposing opinions, but a man should be allowed to be chivalrous in a relationship whether in the beginning or throughout. Though I will leave that decision up to you.

If there’s a topic you’d like us to cover, or an issue that you think needs more awareness, let us know at thecrowsnestgre@gmail.com.

By Tommy Monkhouse

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.