Sexualized Saturdays: Sexy Costumes, Slut-Shaming, and Female Superheroes

When it comes to female superheroes and villains, I constantly hear debate over the sexy costumes. On the one hand, it is ridiculous that female characters must be constantly half-exposed in order to be in comics. On the other hand, one could argue that criticism of what these characters wear can devolve into to slut-shaming and placing standards on female characters that would never be placed on men. In real life, cosplayers wearing revealing costumes experience both harassment and slut-shaming from both men and women. But for this post, I just want to discuss the characters. Why am I so offended when female heroes and villains are constantly depicted wearing sexy revealing costumes?

1438430531_1094_emma_frost-47405828520_xlargeLet’s use Harley Quinn and Starfire as two modern examples.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Recycled Movie Costumes

Today’s Web Crush is my newest tumblr love, Recycled Movie Costumes!

jr9fangirls1111One of my loves is costuming. Not so much making them, like my cosplaying co-authors on this blog, but just seeing the pieces and appreciating their details. Predictably, my favorite type of costuming is that of musical theatre, but movie costumes are also pretty neat and this tumblr opened my eyes to the concept of recycling costumes which I never even realized was a thing. You see, when a new musical opens it gets new costume designers so even if it’s a revival imitating a previous production, costumes aren’t re-used, and while costumes will often reappear on different performers within the same production (like, when a new actor takes over a role they may inherit a previous actor’s costumes if they are of comparable size) a new show typically means new costumes. As such, I had never really considered that the same didn’t hold true for new movies.

Of course, it was a musical that introduced me to this blog

Of course, it was a musical that introduced me to this tumblr

One of the things I admire about the people who contribute to the blog is their keen eye for details and ability to recognize where they’ve been seen before. These aren’t just costumes that look similar to or are inspires by previous designs, they are the same outfit appearing again which can be confirmed by the identical details like pattern and stitching.

Recycled Movie Costumes- GlindaSometimes the costumes go through adjustments in their subsequent appearances, but can still be identified by their construction and the knowledge of whose costume shop they come from. I find these ones even more interesting than the ones which make their way unaltered from one appearance to another because it shows that the storytelling aspect of costume designing is still considered even when a costume is being re-used. It can’t always go from one story to another without being altered in order to create the unique vision of the new movie.

If you’re a costume lover like me, check out the blog, and if you’ve got a sharp enough eye to spot a recycled costume you can submit your findings to!

Theatre Thursdays: Wicked News Round-Up

Despite being a huge Wicked fan (I mean, check the username) I don’t think I’ve posted about it at all here. However, having just seen the show again a couple weeks ago, I’ve been in a Wicked mood — so I’m gonna post some fun news that’s been going on for the show as it nears its tenth year on Broadway.

Willemijn Verkaik ElphabaWillemijn Verkaik will do a limited run as Elphaba on Broadway

Willemijn became a fast fan favorite when she opened the German production of Wicked and with her perfect witchy look and killer voice it’s not hard to understand why. On top of these great attributes Willemijn also brought her intense, passionate acting to the role. She went on to open the Dutch production of the show as well, getting to perform the show in her native language. Now this incredibly talented woman is going to get to make her Broadway debut and American audiences will get to experience firsthand what audiences in Stuttgart and Holland have already fallen in love with.

Enjoy Willemijn performing Elphaba’s signature “Defying Gravity” in all three languages in which she has performed/will perform the role:

More news under the cut!

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Theatre Thursdays: Seussical the (Flopped) Musical

Quite a while ago I had an idea for a series talking about my favorite Broadway flops. Being the brilliant wordsmith I am, I titled this series “A Few of My Favorite Flops”…get it? Like that song from The Sound of Music? But with the word “flop” instead of…eh, you get it. Anyway, I started with Carrie and that led into a lot more posts than I intended and I never went back to the series. Today I will be continuing “A Few of My Favorite Flops” with Seussical the Musical.

I performed in this show my freshman year of college and fell in love with it. The music and lyrics are by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty who are honestly my favorite musical creators (Ragtime, Once on this Island, and Seussical are three of the most perfect cast recordings I own) and the original production was directed by Frank Galati. As you have probably guessed, the story is based on the works of Dr. Seuss with the main plot of the musical being comprised of the stories “Horton Hears a Who” and “Horton Hatches the Egg” so our protagonists are Horton the Elephant and Jojo (the son of Whoville’s mayor) with the Cat in the Hat serving as narrator. Other main players include Gertrude McFuzz, Mayzie LaBird, the Sour Kangaroo, and the Wickersham Brothers, with special appearances by notable Seussian characters such as the Grinch and Yertle the Turtle.

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Theatre Thursdays: Giselle

A few weekends ago I had the chance to see the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s production of Giselle, and, before I say anything else, let me say that it was beautifully done, from the dancing to the costumes to the music from the orchestra.  I never have any complaints on those fronts as far as the PBT is concerned.

But I would like to address a few things about the ballet that left me wanting. First of all, although the part of Giselle is apparently a prized role in the ballet community, I don’t think that the character of Giselle is particularly strong.

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Cosplay Questions: Race and Cosplay

It’s been a while since I’ve worked on this series, but I’m back with a vengeance now. Let’s open this can of worms.

There are two major race issues related to cosplay that I’ve noticed: first, the ongoing and loaded discussion of whether Asian or white people cosplay anime characters better, based on how they perceive the race of the anime characters. And secondly, the issue of racebending, or changing the race of the characters in order to cosplay. (This happens both with minority cosplayers dressing as perceived-as-white characters and white cosplayers cosplaying as characters of color.)

The first question is one that brings the covert racism out in a lot of people. Although a majority of anime characters are Japanese or of Japanese descent, their generally large, overexaggerated eyes and non-natural hair colors make a lot of people argue that they don’t look Japanese and that white people cosplay them better. I think this is, frankly, stupid. Most human beings, regardless of race, don’t look like anime characters. Regardless of race, none of us look like CLAMP noodle people, impossibly buff Toriyama characters, or ludicrously booby Gainax women.

The important thing in this case is, rather than judging on a cosplayer’s race, to (if you must judge) judge on the awesomeness of their costume. Perhaps this is just easier for me, as a seamstress and costume creator, but it seems to be the logical way to think about it.

The other race issue that often comes up in cosplay is this: most anime characters are inredibly fair-skinned. Is it right for white characters to cosplay as the few characters with dark skin, and why do some people complain when cosplayers of color dress as perceived-as-white characters? Here’s my take on part one of this sitch (admittedly speaking from a postition of privilege): if cosplaying were a big-budget film (say, The Last Airbender, The Lone Ranger, I could go on) and characters of color were being played by white folks, I’d be livid about whitewashing and racebending and appropriation. But cosplaying is about showing fan appreciation for a particular character. Some people still do this in an offensive way—I don’t condone blackface or any of its variations—but if you’re white and your favorite character is, say, Yoruichi, I’m not gonna bitch you out for cosplaying as her. But white folks then have to extend the same courtesy to cosplayers of color. Don’t walk up to a black Inuyasha and argue with him because Inuyasha isn’t black in the show. Don’t go up to a dark-skinned Ciel Phantomhive and ask them why they didn’t cosplay as Indian prince Soma instead, since a dark-skinned English aristocrat in the 1880s would be unheard of. There are so few options comparatively for black cosplayers that it’s ridiculous and stupid to bitch about them cosplaying as ‘white’ characters. Just, as I said before, live and let cosplay. If you’re going to judge a cosplayer, do it not on the color of their skin but on the strength of their costume and the kindness of their heart.

Theatre Thursdays: Do You Hear the Trailer Sing?!

Brace yourselves, mesdames et monsieurs, citoyens et citoyennes, gamins et gamines:

I have a really visceral response to anything about this movie. The first time I saw this trailer a few days ago, I may have cried a little, I was so overwhelmed. My exact response was “I WORDS AND HEAD EXPLODING”, which I think accurately sums up my feelings in the most coherent way possible.

The more level-headed Fiyero3305 has pointed out to me some issues with this movie, such as the fact that there are no French actors in an adaptation of a classic French novel and that the casting itself sort of just happened without much auditioning or anything, but I am just so happy that Taylor Swift isn’t Eponine that I am looking past that for now.

And this trailer in and of itself: I’m so happy that they chose to make Fantine the central feature of it, with her song tying together the myriad snippets of character introductions. I’m happy about the barricade and the way they managed to introduce most of the named characters in the trailer without it seeming crowded (Les Mis is a very crowded musical). I’m loving the scenery and the costumes and the—well, pretty much everything. Any thoughts on this from the peanut gallery?