Patreon: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

In the realm of cosplay, many different kinds of cosplayers exist. We have our average nerds just dressing up as a hobby, teenagers running around anime conventions with their friends probably in an Inuyasha cosplay, Twitch girls that love the games they play so much they cosplay every now and then, prop makers, fashion designers, photographers, artists, make-up artists and special FX people that use it as medium for their job, models who may or may not be nerdy who dress up, and dogs. The dogs are the best, but I digress.

The world of cosplay is constantly changing and moving. The idea in it’s origination was incredibly nerdy. Again, see: hobby (an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure). In it’s evolution, it’s become less of a taboo secret that comes out only in the walls of a convention and amongst close friends, but now a very celebrated and fun activity for all. See what I did there, changed the word hobby to activity. The reason why is cosplay is no longer just a hobby.

In 2016, the trend of Patreon begun. We started to see a good amount of cosplayers using the platform to create a living from their work (Patreon’s words actually, not mine.) Many cosplayers began using it as an incentive to film and note all their prop and costume creation methods, to help other cosplayers and show fans the hard work they put into their costumes. For some, it’s a fascinating process. Others use it as a way to learn. In this form, the cosplayer is an artist, and is showing others their art, and the money poured in goes as an incentive for the cosplayer to go out of their way to film, money for equipment to film, and time taken to edit and publish the material.

That wasn’t very successful though, unfortunately. The cosplayers that created this material were cast in a large, dark shadow created by other cosplayers that did more for their Patreon. By more, I mean less.

That’s right kids, less is more, and sex sells. Many cosplaying ladies (mostly ladies, there are a few gentlemen that do this as well), began to shed off their clothes, in a new trend called “boudoir shoots.” “Boudoir” is a French word meaning a lady’s private dressing room or bedroom. In photography, boudoir refers to a style in which women pose for photographs partially clothed or in lingerie. So began the norm of girls using lingerie pictures, some cosplay “inspired”, throw in a wig or prop, maybe some contacts and the color of underwear your character would wear, as a reward for those who pledged a certain price bracket for that cosplayer’s Patreon.

The Good: Many people are making a good profit from this endeavor. They are able to fund their future cosplays, other needs, and some are doing so well, they have quit their day-time job to pursue Patreon full-time. It is opening the way for many girls to be more open sexually and not hide their bodies, and empowers some in them doing so.

The Bad: Other cosplayers that own Patreon and do not participate in lingerie shoots (for whichever matter) are cast in a shadow. They have lost Patrons or simply cannot gain any, due to heavy competition. Also bad, sexualization of women. Female cosplayers are being objectified,  respect is lost and harassment is increasing toward the ladies that do the boudoir shoots or don’t do them. Many women are upset because it can be seen as anti-feminist, due to “simply taking off clothes” is gaining more traction and money than sweat, blood, and tears poured into a cosplay.

The Ugly: The trend. Cosplayers are being “pressured” to follow suit. Many females feel they need to compete, and stay relevant, and are doing boudoir shoots, although they don’t feel comfortable or have principles that prefer not to. Some have said that they didn’t know how else to reward their Patrons but to do lingerie. It is also seen that it’s created a “fakeness” to cosplay, as some who do pursue this will cosplay characters they don’t know for popularity (an age-old cosplay dilemma) or models that aren’t even interested in the art but use it as a platform to elevate themselves.

What are your thoughts? Is Patreon good for the cosplay society or bad? Is it selfish or selfless? Is it more harm than good? Should lingerie shoots be considered as part of the sex/porn industry due to its illicit material? Is it a smart business venture, or is it a wrong move? Is the idea of lingerie as a reward for Patrons paying the cosplayer an amount of money good? Can this have a future backlash? What about those under 18 that shouldn’t view this material but are part of the cosplay community (either as cosplayers or fans)?

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