Sex Sells - "Get used to it" - Opinion Article
Article by: Geek Girl Shelle-chii|
Shelle-chii wrote this opinion article about sexulization in our society, the cosplay community and more...
It has been common knowledge for a long time: Sex sells. Many have fought against this but the truth is: humans are predispositioned to be attracted to sexy/sexual beings and objects. Industries have realized that sexy is something that's not going away any time soon, and in this day of acceptance and people being able to be open to explore their sexuality more, the tactics that have worked in the past for others will be picked up on and used by other industries.
Geek Girls Evie E and Shelle-chii as Kill la Kill characters Ryuko and Satsuki. Photographed by Trillance
Using sexual themes to sell products has been prevalent since the 1800's when a cigarette company used pin up girl drawings as trading cards in their packages to increase sales. Other companies saw the success in this method so they started running campaigns with less modest themes. But recently many studies have been conducted that conclude using these tactics only works on getting the customer's initial attention. Your brand was not recalled by as many consumers when flashy/violent/sexual themes were being used. So does it really work?
The answer is definitely varied but in general it boils down to: Yes. Using sexual imagery does get the attention of the consumers, but it's more like a 'foot in the door'; you have to do something else to make yourself stand out from all the other ads/marketing that are using the same tactics. So many industries use these methods, from magazines, automotive ads, food, clothing, even so far as to be used on selling coffins (see below)
This image is from the 2010 edition of a calendar published by Lindner, a Polish-based company that sells coffins. The owner Zbigniew Lindner wanted to highlight "the beauty of Polish girls and the beauty of [their] coffins ... A coffin shouldn't be a sacred object - it's furniture, it's the last bed you'll ever sleep in."
With the rise in popularity of geek/nerd culture many veterans of the hobby have noticed a huge change over the last ten or so years: the sexualisation of cosplay. Now the nerd community is not a stranger to the concept of sex selling, but in a community dominated mostly by males inititally, the actual physical presence of sexy females at conventions were few and far between. But it's 'cool' to be nerdy now, or at least considered more acceptable in the mainstream society's eyes. And with the mainstreaming of nerd culture came an onslaught of industries/individuals recognising the opportunity for money making with this newly rising community.
It's not even just the big wigs who decided to capitalize on this. Whether it's conscious or not, cosplayers were starting to use the same tactics. We were raised with these tactics being shoved down our throats in our media, though, so who can blame us? People do what they know will work. If you want to make money off such a young industry then you have to use what has been proven in the past. Granted there are many who will not try to make money off their cosplay career, but business-minded cosplayers definitely monopolize the 'sex sells' department. And it's not a bad thing....
Geek Girl Shelle-chii in a Body Paint of Female Deadpool. Art and photography by: ArtistiCurves
...As we grow as a society so does our understanding of sexuality and something that was seen 50 years ago as raunchy is very much acceptable theses days and actually encouraged. People are finished with being stifled in their sexuality. There's an overwhelming acceptance for sexy cosplay. It's liberating. But there's also many who see it as bad, and others who are okay with it, but think that not enough moderation is being used and that the community is just divulging into rewarding just sexual cosplays and not craftmanship.
So what can you do about this? Well, there isn't really anything you can do about it. The reality is that sex will always sell, but have solace in the fact that the gimmicks fade fast, and those with talent will not just go away because you think they're too sexual. One thing you can do it support the cosplayers that you do think are deserving of more attention. This is still a community as well as an industry now and you have to talk with your wallet/likes escentially. Share that epic shot of that cosplayer you think should be 'more popular', buy a print at a con, do something other than complain about how "only tits and ass get popular".
Geek Girl Shelle-chii as female Tyreal from Diablo. Photographed by Geek Girl Ailes Noires
With that, we need to remember as well to not shame anyone who we believe is going overboard with these ways. You may not like it, but it will still happen. Shaming someone is never right and keeping positive will always yield better results than focusing on the negative. Focusing on yourself and supporting those you believe are deserving of more attention is definitely more healthy than gossiping and perpetuating negativity. What do you think of the current state of the cosplay community/industry? Do you like where it's gone over the last few years? Are there any things that you would change?
Article by: Geek Girl Shelle-chii
Follow us on:
February 17 2016