What can we learn from Myrtle Sarrosa’s FHM appearance?

Myrtle as seen on the FHM Philippines’ November 2014 issue. [Photo: FHM Philippines]

It’s been a quite long time since we talked about what seems to be Alodia Gosiengfiao’s successor, Myrtle Gail Sarrosa. It’s like one time we were able to get hold of her at the ABS-CBN compound, and now we saw her as the cover girl for For Him Magazine (FHM)’s November 2014 issue. From what we understand, it was her decision to make the move.

Of course, the community has been divided once more whether if Myrtle did the right thing or otherwise; so we raised a question to various people: What can we learn from this?

What people say

I’ve mentioned this question to three different groups on Facebook that I’m a member of — including AniZone and the ACGP Cosplay Community.

For the sake of privacy, I shall not name the other group that I have asked the question to, but here are some of their responses:

“Honestly, If she wants to be model or a cover girl; or any of the matter, she could have chosen a better option than FHM. You guys know naman the nature of FHM right? And Myrtle is known as a Cosplayer. Even though she is not Cosplaying in the magazine, it still reflects; and a bit, encourages that Cosplaying is some sexy stuff, which is a bit wrong,” Leah said.

A person who wished to be not named replies: “She’s encouraging Cosplayers to do sexy Cosplay so that they can gain attention. She is also telling that to feel good about yourself and your Cosplay, you must do sexy Cosplay and pose in FHM. She is encouraging the idea of ‘Cosplay is consent’ meaning, you Cosplay to fulfill the desires of the perverts.”

“Personally [speaking], what I see in what she did is that other people will see Cosplayers as those who don sexy costumes, blah blah blah, which gives other people permission to view them like that. [It is] Shameful,” Canon states.

Joey ended the discussion with his answer. “What can we learn? Nothing. But perhaps, we will learn that after another issue sparks, this will be forgotten once again. Short memory, right?”

We shall move on with the responses from the ACGP Cosplay Community.

Terrence has this to say:

“Cosplay is neither targeted nor performed for everyone and by everyone. We have different minds, preferences, beliefs, views, aspects, and opinions in Cosplay, making Cosplay a diverse world compared to others.

Learn to appreciate Cosplayers, even though if their Cosplay is epic or fail; what’s important is they spent so much time, money, energy and effort to do such things, [and] we should or we must appreciate the ESSENCE OF COSPLAY present in every Cosplayer we meet, professional or not.

In Myrtle’s article, I could say she [has] improved a lot better than before; because of the diversity of the audience, it seems that it didn’t impress the part of the audience. Take note that she Cosplayed Starfire from DC Comics, […] which is really exposing yet accurate. I’m personally not a fan of Myrtle but it doesn’t look bad at all and I personally liked it either way.”

I raised this question with a kigurumi Cosplayer named Joana, and here’s her response:

We, the Cosplayers and others who likes Anime really appreciates popular arts. Some Cosplayers like to take pictures with friends, some in events, some in contests. I myself like to take pictures in other places with other people, because having pictures with them is like treasure to me. They become a part of me.

Now, if we talk about Myrtle, she’s facing a new world and she has to overcome intrigues that has resulted by involving Cosplay with FHM. Actually, I admired her courage to bringing out the best of herself. It is up to us how we appreciate this form of art.

Finally, we go with the responses I got from AniZone.

Robert pointed out three things:

  • Cosplay can be used as a stepping stone to mainstream media.
  • There exists such an awkwardly-designed Naruto swimsuit.
  • Cosplay/Cosplayers going into the mainstream media area do cause quite a rift and some conflicting arguments among members of the community. There’s no unity as a community if Cosplay-showbiz is the topic. This is a really volatile topic.

Sports enthusiast and fellow blogger Ivan responded in the form of a status update: “That nineTEEN years of age is already considered adulthood as per her interview at The Buzz. #DiNaSyaTeenager,”

“Mass thinks now that Cosplay is all about doing sexy and nothing more,” Merle stated.

Don nailed it well:

“[…] To elaborate, as a Cosplayer ages, his/her interests start to branch out. There even comes a point when he/she wants to try everything, much like I used to Cosplay a lot, but now I want to try other things like figure collecting or comicbook writing.

The Philippine Cosplay community is starting to reach the level of international communities, with the increasing amount of original stuff being sold, the number of international guests, and unfortunately, the number of pervographers, gropers, and social misfits increasing.

And the fact that Myrtle has been recognized/noticed by a men’s magazine clearly shows how prominent she has become, from a Cosplayer to tv personality to actress.

I just wish they used that prominence to spread the concept of “Cosplay is not consent”. But then again, being in showbusiness or whatever probably constricts them.”

Like Robert, Reggie bullet his points:

  1. Cosplaying can be or can’t be (much larger percentage in the former) a “stepping stone” to one’s fame, altought for me, there is nothing wrong to it. It is her decision to do it.
  2. I also share the sentiments of others about the Naruto swimsuit. Some research won’t harm. She can do a swimsuit version Of Asuka Langley Soryu (yep, she somewhat did Asuka).
  3. It is not only Myrtle that graced the covers — besides Alodia, Vampy Bit Me/Linda Le also graced the covers (of FHM Singapore).
  4. It is not Myrtle’s fault. It is all the media’s fault. Remember “The Otaku Panic” in Japan? The media has its role in it. This is the same as Cosplaying here in our country.

Deric gave his two cents from a seiyuu fan’s perspective:

“I’m surprised seiyuu fans don’t go ‘SHE’S (any seiyuu that has done gravure work) RUINING THE NAME OF SEIYUU BECAUSE SHE POSED FOR GRAVURE!’

[…] I’d rather have her and Alodia represent the Cosplay community rather than some rowdy people shouting outside the hall, people who don’t support local conventions by paying for a ticket and instead loiter outside the hall, and of course the typical pervert photographers, etc.

At least they got some decent-looking girls to try and represent the community.

As for the argument of Cosplayers are doing sexy poses, sorry, but before Alodia had her FHM thingie, there are a lot of people Cosplaying as Maya Natsume that you thought they were posing for a magazine cover.”

Billy, who is not a Cosplayer, has this to say:

It’s just some girl who went and did a magazine cover.

ANYTHING you like doing [in this case, I guess Cosplay because why not?] CAN be a stepping stone to mainstream media. Your responsibilities as a possible figurehead is just that you gotta represent. Fan responsibilities? be reasonable instead of spouting nonsense.

To be honest, I didn’t think it would be a thing. Alodia was there before, too. Did that made an impact [in the community]? Did anything change? If there is, whether if Alodia did it or not, did anything change?

Within the team

I also decided to talk about this among the team — Mikki treats Myrtle’s appearance on FHM as a typical “laocean deep” move, implying that she has less showbiz projects nowadays. “It’s a showbiz fact that artists accept daring / sexy moves if they are not shining well.”

On the other hand, Al mentions the cases of Miley Cyrus, Aiza Seguerra and Charice Pempengco.

“Cosplay, I guess with this case and Alodia’s, has become a stepping stone to get into mainstream media. Since popular Otaku “icons” like Myrtle already have a substantial following, it’s also easier for a magazine like FHM to reach out and even appeal to more niche groups like ours,” our fellow reviewer Alex responds.

My point of view

I have thought of the same question as well, and from the answers we have received, I can provide three things:

  1. This might be a textbook case of people using Cosplay as a stepping stone to showbiz. Obviously, the Philippines is not like Japan’s entertainment industry where you can shift to a different sector (e.g. from being a Voice Actress to a pro-wrestler) that easily.
  2. We can clearly define that Alodia’s road to fame is not similar to Myrtle’s. Here, we do not mean how they started — it’s how they proceed with it. We can see that the production team for Pinoy Big Brother Teens have already invested (for a lack of word) on Myrtle’s title as the “Cosplay cutie” of Iloilo; whereas Alodia didn’t even joined any reality shows. What I would like to imply is that Alodia contributed to the rise of Cosplay into mainstream, and Myrtle benefited to that matter.
  3. While you can see that Myrtle is successful with what she is doing, we should beslightly damaging the good name of Cosplay in the Philippines, but we felt that the media is — pardon me for the word — stupid enough for realizing that she is changing — it is as if she wants to get rid of her teeny-bopper image and be more mature; and while the media wants to associate her with her hobby, we should ask her what she feels when the media does that. We feel that it’s partly her fault for for making fun of our hobby.

We are indeed at a different age — where dressing up and portraying different characters is not just a hobby we do to celebrate parties, but a lucrative business. This is also the age where the fanbase is so diverse, that by just looking at this piece you will at least get a grasp of the public opinion of the community.

Amid all of the media buzz that surrounds the Cosplay community, we should never forget that Cosplay is a hobby to reward ourselves — not an addiction, and certainly not a stepping stone to fame. We are telling this unto our readers who are venturing to Cosplay since the likes of Myrtle Gail Sarrosa and Alodia Gosiengfiao can be still mistaken in different ways.

One day, we will have a successor to these two ladies who is opinionated and well-verse of the community — rather, we know people that we can describe as that, and we just hope they help in correcting the different notions that the mainstream media spreads.