Excessive Pedantry =/= Constructive Criticism

I’ve been cosplaying for a while now. About a decade. Only recently have I started really putting more time, money, and effort into the hobby. I’ve not only made more costumes from scratch in the past year, I’ve also tried to build up more of an online presence via Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube. My audience has grown ever so slowly (which I’ve already written about struggling with mentally) and with it, comments.

I thankfully can count the number of negative or inappropriate comments I’ve gotten online on one hand. (Now this is only pertaining to cosplay, not to OKCupid, which is a completely different story.) These handful of comments were never blatantly hateful: they never called me ugly or called my cosplay shitty. No, these comments were of a different nature. Instead of being intentionally cruel or hurtful, these commenters chose an alternate tactic: excessive pedantry.

You may be very familiar with these types. You’ll see them in the comment section of a Huffington Post article. They’re your grammar nazis and your neckbeards. They’re your very own online version of the comic book guy from the Simpsons (the original neckbeard). The internet is full of them and their mission is to tear down anything that’s not 100% perfect in their eyes. Now, be sure to note those last three words: in their eyes. It doesn’t matter if the artist of a web comic or the cosplayer who constructed a costume saw the final product as finished and perfect. All that matters is how Mr. Pedant views it.

I might as well include a few real world examples from my own online experiences. Again, this is nothing compared to what I’ve seen on other people’s cosplays. But it’s enough to get under my skin to the point that I write a ranty blog post about it.

Mr. Smooth Pedant

sylveon

“Very attractive and well done despite the fact she plays the instrument with her left hand…. BUT you seem to own it which is more important. So do I say you are far more beautiful than the character you seek to recreate based upon the cross reference? Sure.
However, I have recently been getting into the pokemon thing (as in one season of indigo and one season of xy) and have no idea of whom you cosplay.”

I gotta hand it to Mr. Smooth Pedant: He knows the rules of PNP or Positive/Negative/Positive. It’s a practice used by employers or managers when giving constructive criticism to their employees. You start out with something they did right, then hone in on what could be improved, and then they end it with another positive. It’s just too bad that the positives became growingly creepy and cringy while the negative was condescendingly nitpicky. He also throws in a “whom” for good measure because why not.

The Tag Team

wanda

“Actually it’s neither of those. Her power is called Chaos or Hex Magic. In the comics her mutant power makes her a conduit able to tap into this actual magic. Explains why they never really tell you what her power is in the movie. There is even a scene where the twins power is explained as ‘he’s fast and she’s weird’. Nice cosplay though.”

Leave it to Reddit to out-pedant itself. The first guy (who I’ve dubbed ConcisePedant) corrects my post title. The second guy (WellActuallyGuy) one-ups the first with some quick one-two jabs of comic book knowledge. But hey. He said I had a “nice cosplay though” so completely derailing the comment thread on my cosplay (in /r/cosplay mind you, not /r/comics or /r/graphicnovels or /r/marvel) is totally okay, right?

The Joker or the “Why So Serious?”

zoey

“You look a lot better when you smile :)”

Now this doesn’t necessarily go with the pedantry theme, but I felt it necessary to share. Every girl has heard this in real life. “Hey, smile!” coming from an overly-concerned-with-her-face stranger, usually a man. The go-to response to this would be to just force a smile, wait for the inevitable “See? Was that so hard?” reply, and then move on. Well, this was the online version of that. And I just couldn’t let it it go unnoticed. So this happened:

reply


Not All [Insert Demographic]!

Now here’s the disclaimer I have to throw in cause I’m just sitting here waiting for the backlash of commenters going “We’re not all like that! I’m a very polite and positive commenter!”

It’s not everyone. Not every single person does this. This selection of comments I decided to share with the world make up maybe 5% of the total comments I’ve gotten on my cosplays. The other 95% of comments are very positive and supportive and lovely. And if you’re one of those people making those lovely comments, keep doing it! I value comments a lot more than likes or faves because it means the person took the time to write out what exactly they enjoyed about my cosplay. It adds a face to a name and makes my tiny audience look like it’s made up of real life people and not just anonymous computer screens.

How to Not Be “That Guy”

For one, think before you submit a comment. Think about how the person receiving that comment might feel about it. If you’re commenting on the picture of a cosplay, chances are this person worked their ass off on it. They’re already intimately aware of its flaws; they don’t need you to point them out. So if you’re thinking about pointing out that Link is left-handed and not right-handed, push the keyboard away and take a walk. Come back to it and try to find one thing that you do like about it. And comment with that instead! There’s also the perfectly acceptable option of not commenting at all and just moving on with your life.

But What if I Do Want to Give Constructive Feedback?

For starters, you might want to make sure that this person actually wants to hear it. Did they ask for feedback? Cool! Then here’s what you can do. (I lifted this list from this blog post.)

  1. Use the PNP method I mentioned earlier. (But do so without being creepy about it.)
  2. Focus on the situation, not the person.
  3. Be specific with your feedback
    1. I might lose some of you here. “But this whole blog post’s point is to not be pedantic!” The point is to be specific about things the artist can actually change or things that actually pertain to the costume itself. Don’t be that racist ass that points out that said character is white and not black. Don’t nitpick the post title when the whole point is to get feedback on the picture and cosplay itself. You can be specific, but only about things that the person can actually improve upon.
  4. Comment on things which can be actioned upon. (I pretty much explained that in Step 3)
  5. Give recommendations on how to improve
  6. Don’t make assumptions

I highly suggest you read the full list with explanations and examples.

Hold Others Accountable

If you’re already making positive, supportive, and constructive comments, please continue to do so. Drown out all the hate with love. Not only that, but take it upon yourself to call out anyone who’s being a bully, a troll, or an obnoxious pedant.

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One thought on “Excessive Pedantry =/= Constructive Criticism

  1. Pingback: Cosplay and Body Accuracy: A Personal Experience | blog by ash

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