Shortage of “Star Wars” Cosplayers for Wedding Appearances

According to the #WallStreetJournal, there’s a shortage of #cosplayers for couples having #StarWars themed weddings. Since the typically most popular #cosplayed characters are #DarthVader & #stormtroopers, the requests for appearances often go to the #501stLegion, the #CostumeClub that specializes in “dark side” & Imperial characters.

With the enormous popularity of the recent “Star Wars” movies, a lot more couples are wanting “Star Wars” themed weddings. This has placed a strain on local chapters of the “501st Legion”, whose members make costumed appearances purely on a voluntary basis and who typically request that a donation be made to a charity for the appearance.

Some local chapters (referred to as garrisons within the 501st Legion) have adopted policies of no longer accepting requests to appear at weddings due to the growing number of such requests, though internal communication regarding these locally-adopted policies does not appear to always be disseminated to all members.



What Motivates People to Want to Become a Costume Club Leader?

The world’s largest #CostumeClub is currently holding its annual elections for leadership positions, both club-wide and for local chapters. While the requirements for who can run for the various leadership positions are clearly spelled out in the club’s written charter, the requirements don’t represent the reasons why members of a costume club may choose to run for a leadership position.

From what we have observed in several different costume clubs, the reasons why people choose to run often fall into one of the following categories:
  • Some candidates choose to run because they feel that they have been slighted by their opponent or by other members of the club’s leadership. In this scenario, the individual often has a personal vendetta and may be seeking to gain a leadership position in order to exact some kind of revenge. Is this the kind of person who should be elected? We’ve seen this happen and it often leads to more problems down the road for everyone.
  • Some candidates choose to run to stroke their own egos. These individuals want to be in the spotlight and have others tell them how great they are. They’re running because they want to be something, not because they want to get something positive accomplished. They want a title and they want people to be impressed by that title. The worst examples of this are individuals whose egos are so large that they truly believe that they know better than everyone else and want to impose their will on others. Is electing such a narcissistic person a good idea? We’ve seen it done and the results weren’t good.
  • Some candidates choose to run because other costume club members have talked them into running. But, here’s the catch: often, the members who convince someone to run may be seeking to pull strings from behind the scenes. Those that talk others into running for a leadership position may not want to be in the spotlight themselves, or they may know that they couldn’t win if they ran on their own. By finding someone else to run not only gives them an opportunity to influence or control decisions from behind the scenes, it protects them from taking the blame if other club members later decide that they don’t like who they elected. In fact, it’s entirely possible (and we have observed this actually happen) that those who got the person to run will deliberately start to complain if that person doesn’t do what they want him/her to do in order to sabotage their ability to run again. In other words, the winning candidate becomes their patsy. Alway be wary of who is trying to get someone else to run for a leadership position.
  • Some candidates choose to run because they genuinely want to make a positive difference. When someone like this is found, it can lead to some truly positive changes for everyone; but as John Lydgate’s saying goes: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”[1] Over time, anyone in the club that is seeking to cause drama may eventually damage this winning candidate’s reputation and the longer that someone holds a leadership position, the greater the likelihood that this situation can occur. Our advice to anyone wanting to run for office in a costume club is not to hold the office for too long a time: know when it’s time to let someone else lead.
Care must taken in deciding who should be in costume club leadership positions. Electing or appointing the wrong person could have detrimental effects on members’ interest to participate in club events. We’ve seen it happen. People join costume clubs to have fun, not to satisfy someone’s need for revenge, to boost someone’s ego or to be manipulated by secretive backseat drivers that want to remain anonymous.


Questions That Should Be Asked Before Creating a Costume Club

Before going through the complex process of creating a new #CostumeClub, several important questions should be asked first:

1. Is a new costume club necessary/why is it being created? If another (or several other) costume clubs exists that already includes the costumes that you are wanting to have in a new costume club, then the creation of another similar costume club seems unnecessary. Something should be unique to justify the creation of another costume club.

2. Who is the costume club being created for? The creation of any club should, first and foremost, be for the people who join the club. If a costume club is being created for any other reasons than for the people who join, then it should probably not be created.

3. Will members have a voice in how the costume club operates? If the members who join a new costume club ultimately have no say in how the club operates, this suggests several things about those who created the costume club: possibly a lack of empathy towards others, a need to control others, a lack of trust towards others, etc. As stated above, a costume club is first and foremost about those who join the club. Hence, those that join must be given opportunities in how the club operates.

4. Will protections exist to keep the costume club together? A costume club that operates without a written charter or with a charter that doesn’t specify sufficient procedures and protections for the members, then the possibility exists that the club could be irreparably damaged or disbanded when problems occur. Anyone who creates a costume club must do so with the understanding that problems could occur and that protections must be in place before the problems occur. While no one can predict what may happen, looking at what other costume clubs have done to protect themselves through their written charters should give you some idea as to what you will also need.

If the answers to any of the above questions do not favor the members who join a costume club after its created, then it should not be created in the first place. Creating a costume club is a responsibility to those who join. They are the reason the costume club should exist.



Why Costume Clubs Fail: A Learning Opportunity

With the abrupt & unexpected shutdown of a #CostumeClub last week, we want to explore the various reasons that can contribute to a costume club failing & use it as a learning opportunity. The failure of a costume club is probably not going to be due to a single reason. Rather, a combination of negative factors can so weaken a club or its leadership to such an extent that it simply implodes. That is essentially what happened last week when a costume club chose to disband without warning.

So, with no further ado, here are some of the reasons that might lead to a costume club failing.

1. Inexperienced Leadership

Probably one of the most significant reasons that can lead to a costume club’s downfall is inexperienced leadership. Before someone is elected or appointed to a leadership position, the individual should be able to demonstrate that they are qualified to handle the responsibilities of the position. This is especially true if the position is equivalent to being a club president.

This is no different when someone applies and potentially interviews for a job at a business. Hiring an unqualified person into a job means that the job isn’t going to be done well, correctly or at all. For a business, this can result in loss of revenue, loss of credibility with customers, loss of business, etc. The negative impact to a costume club can be similar.

While a resume is the typical way that a job candidate demonstrates their abilities & qualifications for a job, listed below are some (certainly not all) qualifications that could potentially demonstrate someone’s qualifications for being in a costume club’s leadership position:

  • Length of membership. Someone who has been a costume club member for more than a year (for example) would be more qualified than someone who only joined a few months before because they would have more experience in how the club operates. Time spent in a costume club is akin to on-the-job-training & experience.
  • Participation. If someone doesn’t participate frequently in costume club events, how can they demonstrate that they have a firm understanding of how events are organized and how members should conduct themselves at events? Someone who attends nearly every event would be far more experienced than someone who only participates once or twice a year, even if the person who has participated at more events hasn’t been in the club as long as the person who rarely participates. This is also akin to on-the-job-training & experience.
  • Costume club charter familiarity. Someone who isn’t familiar with a costume club’s charter isn’t going to be as prepared to know what can or cannot be done than someone who is very familiar with it. Rash decisions and decisions that are inconsistent with a costume club’s rules are more likely to happen with someone who doesn’t know the club’s charter.
  • Personality. Someone who doesn’t form interpersonal relationships as well as someone who can won’t be as effective a leader because they won’t be able to interact with the members as effectively. Also, someone who is more argumentative is also not going to be the best choice for a leadership role. Costume clubs thrive when the members are having fun; member morale & participation drops when they don’t want to be around argumentative members, especially when they are the ones making decisions for the club.

The club that shut down last week did not have the most experienced or qualified people in the top most leadership roles. This was a red flag. 🚩

(For additional reading, on Jan. 6, 2016, we wrote a post on our Facebook page describing the differences between good costume club leadership and poor leadership. We may update and re-post this soon on this blog.)

2. Top-Heavy Leadership Structure

Any costume club that concentrates leadership at the top and doesn’t distribute & delegate decision making adequately is only setting itself up to fail as the number of members in the costume club grows. This paradigm may work when there are only 50 or less members, but once a club has over 100 members and the numbers continue to  grow, the ability of the leaders in a top-heavy structure to make decisions and keep up with the increasing responsibility can become overly stressful and lead to collapse, especially when those leaders are unwilling to either step down or be willing to start delegating decisions and responsibilities to others.

The club that shut down last week was very top-heavy by design. This was yet another red flag. 🚩

(For additional reading, on Jan. 28, 2016, we wrote a post on our Facebook page showing differences between democratic & oligarchical costume club leaderships.)

3. Poor Decision Making

Any leadership that deliberately deceives other members or doesn’t take the time to verify the validity of information it receives before acting on that information is not only unqualified to lead, it may be making very poor decisions that damage the club’s credibility or it’s ability to operate at all.

It is our understanding from interviewing several individuals that were part of the club that disbanded last week that the decision to disband was a combination of unverified information, as well as possibly deceptive information being used to support disbanding. This was another red flag. 🚩

4. Unresolved Internal Conflict

This is something we have touched on before. Any time costume club leadership permits unresolved internal conflict to flourish or directly participates in it, members will stop participating. Sometimes, members will leave en masse. The whole purpose of a costume club is to have fun and (quite often) participate in charitable work while wearing costumes.

When a costume club’s leadership fails in its responsibility to resolve conflict (both internal and external), it is demonstrating that it has completely forgotten the costume club’s mission or that that mission is no longer relevant to them. Either way, the result will be bad for the club and its members.

It’s our understanding that some serious internal conflict occurred within the costume club leadership that disbanded last week only a few weeks before its leaders voted to disband. This would have been a very large red flag. 🚩

5. Lack of Regard for the Membership

While this may be more difficult to detect, when a costume club’s leadership doesn’t have much regard for the club’s members, the leadership may make decisions that are not in the best interest of the members.

Disbanding a club without warning would be the most obvious example, but impossible to do anything about once it has occurred. Leadership that is not particularly transparent or doesn’t regularly communicate with the members are two other methods that the leadership’s amount of regard for the members could be revealed.

6. Vaguely Written Club Charter

A costume club’s charter is equivalent to a constitution. It defines how the club operates, how new members can be approved, how members are expected to behave, how disciplinary action is handled, etc.

But, what happens when a costume club’s charter is written so vaguely that many procedures aren’t really defined or some procedures aren’t defined at all? In this situation, such a charter grants the leadership relatively unlimited power because it doesn’t limit what they can do or define how things are supposed to be done.

This is precisely how the costume club that disbanded last week was able to do so with impunity: it’s charter did not define a procedure for how the club could be disbanded, so all that was needed was a simple majority of its now defunct council. The defunct costume club’s vaguely written charter was another red flag. 🚩

Concluding Remarks: A Learning Opportunity

We could go on, but suffice it to say that before joining a costume club (as we have advised in the past), make sure that you understand how the club is organized beforehand. All of the things explained above are potential red flags and the more red flags that exist for a costume club, the more better off you probably are by not joining it. If you do join it, just be prepared that its future may be questionable. The prime example is what actually happened one week ago today: if a club’s charter doesn’t explain how it can be disbanded, then it’s entirely possible that it could be disbanded in the blink of an eye by its leadership with no warning to the members.

There is a silver lining: failure should always be regarded as an opportunity to learn.

While the costume club that disbanded last week will never have the opportunity to learn from its mistakes since it no longer exists, it is still a learning opportunity for all other current and future costume clubs to understand how this particular club failed so that they don’t make the same mistakes that lead to its downfall.

Let that be the legacy of the failed costume club: for all other costume clubs to have a far better chance of long-term success.





Costume Club Destroyed from the Inside Overnight

On Oct. 15, 2017, a #StarWars #CostumeClub announced with no warning that it had shut down. As of today, it’s entire social media & internet presence is gone. The posted reason for shutting down the club originally claimed that it was due to LucasFilm, Ltd. (LFL), but that was quickly found to be an invalid statement. Once this was discovered, the 3 council members who had apparently voted to disband the club without warning applied a “scorched earth” policy to remove it’s entire online presence as quickly as possible as if it had never existed.

The club, which had over 100 members, had been resurrected in June, 2016. It appeared to be operating well and growing, but the people in charge (which no longer included any of the founding members) clearly wanted nothing to do with it. Reports of internal drama and conflict are likely to among the factors that lead to this.

In the end, the 100+ members who had made costumes to join the club and participated at club events woke up to it being completely wiped out. In this situation it is clear that those who decided to suddenly disband the club neither had the members’ best interests at heart nor did they care about them. Our sympathies are to the members who found themselves completely stripped of their club without warning or notice.



Bullying & Costume Club Leadership 

More often than not, #CostumeClubs turn a blind eye to #bullying (#AdultBullying) occurring within their membership, even after a victim reports it.

There are various reasons why internal #CostumeClub bullying can occur unhampered:

  • Victims don’t always or are unwilling to report the bullying that they’re being subjected to. This may happen because they may feel too intimidated or afraid to report it for fear of additional reprisals. This can be especially true in cases where the bully is friends with or has strong influence with current leadership, or if the bully is part of the leadership structure.
  • Costume club leaders are not often willing to handle issues of internal conflict. A typical response from leadership to the victim who filed a complaint of harassment or bullying is, “Don’t do anything and it will probably go away.”
  • Costume club leaders may claim that the club’s charter (or equivalent) lacks enforceable rules regarding harassment & bullying of members by other members.
  • Costume club leaders upon receiving a complaint from a victim of bullying may blame the victim and, again, do nothing to stop the bullying that’s occurring.

Unchecked, bullying can go on for years because the bully(ies) is an adult, so they’re not going to “grow out of it”, which is a typical excuse used for child bullies. The person who bullies others obviously enjoys what they’re doing. This shows that they’re sadistic & compassionless. They may be narcissistic, sociopathic, a combination of the two, or have additional mental disorders.

When leaders fail to do their job of handling internal costume club conflicts, bullies can continue their bad behavior for years.

As recently deceased concentration camp survivor & long-time human rights advocate Elie Wiesel (1928-2016) once said, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

There are ways to remedy & make it difficult for adult bullies to continue their sadistic behavior within costume clubs:

  • Costume club leaders must never ignore when a member reports being harassed & bullied, especially if the member has well-documented specific incidents of bullying.
  • If you are the victim of recurring bullying in a costume club from another member, accurately document every occurrence of being bullied before filing a complaint against the bully with costume club leadership.
  • If the bully is a friend of, has strong influence with or is a member of leadership of a costume club’s local chapter, don’t file a complaint locally. Either go to the leadership of a neighboring local chapter or take it directly to the national or international costume club leadership. Just make sure the complaint is well documented before filing.
  • If a costume club’s charter fails to address the issue of internal bullying, the it is imperative that the costume club’s charter is amended to address the issue to include specific penalties for any member found guilty of bullying.

Ironically, most costume clubs will make public announcements (especially in social media) that they’re against bullying while failing to address the problem of internal bullying that may be occurring.

#Costuming & #Cosplay 101: Deescalating Troublesome Situations

Troublesome situations can sometimes occur between #costumers & #cosplayers. Quick deescalation & compromise are always the far better options in the long term than allowing the troublesome situations to grow into something far worse. This is especially important in #CostumeClubs.

Leaving a troublesome situation in an unresolved & non-deescalated state greatly increases the likelihood that more troublesome situations may occur in the future because the parties involved are already primed for them.

A series of such unresolved & non-deescalated situations (or even a single one) can lead to long term conflict & drama, which can spread to include more individuals that weren’t part of the original troublesome situation(s) when the additional individuals are motivated to take sides & compelled to defend one side or the other.

Thus, what could have been a far simpler issue to resolve can become extremely difficult (if not impossible) to resolve once a full fledged conflict & drama erupt and additional individuals have allied themselves and by doing so, joined the conflict themselves.

How can one deescalate & potentially resolve a troublesome  issue at the onset?

1. Remain calm. Nothing fans the sparks of a potential conflict better than allowing oneself to become angry. Anger not only reduces a person’s ability to think rationally, it increases the likelihood that statements or actions will occur that antagonize the situation. By remaining calm, however, there’s a far greater chance that the parties involved will choose of their own accord to find a resolution.

2. Control your tone & body language. Building on remaining calm, body language & tone of voice can say more to another person than what’s being said with words. If you appear threatening, you’ll be perceived as being threatening. If you sound angry, you’ll be perceived as being angry. Instead, take a relaxed stance, don’t enter the other person’s personal space and maintain a calm voice. This will help to encourage the other person to do the same & remain calm.

3. Listen. Building on remaining calm, listening to another person’s concerns is often the first step in finding a resolution. Failure to listen eliminates the likelihood that a resolution will ever be found.

4. Accept & acknowledge the other person’s feelings. Accepting & acknowledging how the other person feels not only shows respect for the person, but that you’re not passing judgment on them. Ignoring & not acknowledging how the other person feels will only intensify the negative feelings that are already present.

5. Take responsibility & be willing to apologize. Taking responsibility for one’s own actions and apologizing can go a very long way at ending a troublesome situation. Failing to take responsibility for one’s own actions or, worse, blaming the other party will only make the troublesome situation far worse.

6. Be willing to compromise. If the two parties can’t fully agree to what the other wants, willingness to meet part way so that each party gets at least part of what they want will deescalate a situation. Standing firm & being unwilling to compromise will only lead to more troublesome  (& potentially worse) situations in the future.

7. Look to the future instead of the past. Focusing on the past can make troublesome situations worse. By focusing on the future, you & the other party can focus on problem solving rather than fault-finding. When you create hope, you’ll make yourself far less threatening.

8. Don’t just walk away. Walking away from an unresolved troublesome situation will only make it worse because it leaves the other person frustrated and upset. It also primes both of you for more troublesome situations. Instead, follow the other steps listed above to deescalate the situation.

9. Don’t get involved in other people’s troublesome situations. Involving yourself in someone else’s troublesome situation will only result in you becoming part of it yourself, which not only complicates the situation, it makes it far more likely that the original situation will grow.

Conflict & drama are never worth the damage they create.