Last year around Halloween we addressed some terrible costumes with help from Twitter. It’s easy, and it’s fun. People throw together costumes at the last moment and wind up with something atrocious, or their efforts to create a masterpiece over time demonstrate that without skill, time isn’t enough for success.
There are innumerable memes and stories going around about bad costumes. For that reason, I’m turning my attention to something else… great costumes.
One of the benefits of attending some large media conventions is that, at them, people attempt to outdo each other for costumes. Another benefit is that fans get a chance to encounter their television, movie, writing and artist heroes personally. On rare occasions, both are true.
William Shatner earned millions of fans from his portrayal of Captain Kirk in Star Trek. He proceeded to anger tens of thousands of them with his casual dismissal in a Saturday Night Live rant which would follow him for more than a decade. “Ge t a life!” he thundered at the fans from his podium on the stage. Many of them had a life… and many of them were hurt by his failure to understand why they’d enjoyed his show in the first place.
After a very warm reception during a speaking tour for Star Trek: Generations, Shatner decided to take a hard look why the Trekkies had been so affectionate toward the show in the first place. He hid himself in alien costumes and walked around Star Trek conventions, talking to people about the show. The results culminated in the book Get a Life.
He’s not the only famous person to go incognito amidst his fans. Stephen King was a regular on the convention circuit before movies drove his popularity sky-high and an advertisement for the American Express Card gave him an immediately recognized face. He’d developed a lot of friends that he rarely got to see while at conventions, but now when he walked into them he was mobbed.
It wasn’t easy for King to hide, either. At 6’4″, he tended to draw the eye even in a crowd. He still wanted to go and visit friends in the guest room, though. He eventually figured out a costume which would keep his face hidden yet would work for his height. A very realistic Chewbacca appeared at many conventions throughout the 1980s, and the other professionals kept his secret until he stopped using the costume.
On occasion, industry professionals still run around in costume… but they’re not always the people one might expect to see.
My favorite of the odd costumes comes, unsurprisingly, from a convention. It was Comic-Con, and two people who have a great deal of “geek cred” but aren’t thought about as science fiction, fantasy or horror fans decided to dress as characters from The Matrix and hang around unrecognized.
Question of the night: What is a particularly good costume you’ve seen? (feel encouraged to post an image or link as appropriate)