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Cosplay Drama under the Looking Glass

Cosplay Drama under the Looking Glass


Presuming that every existing trend, subculture or community has their own drama factors, we can just go ahead and conclude – yes, cosplay has them as well. And while cosplay itself is a hobby which begun out of people’s love for characters of their favorite franchises, as it started slipping into the mainstream, many people jumped on board the hype train, adding diversity to motives, ways, and meanings of cosplay.

This brought the, now rising subculture on its own to some new heights, but as progress comes, so do the negative sides too, and even though they can be avoided in the biggest amount, you’re bound to encounter at least some of them if you ever bother to try cosplaying.

It appears that it needs to be repeated over and over again: Cosplayers are primarily fanboys and fangirls. Doing cosplay means a seemingly endless consumption of time, money and nerves. You ask, why would anyone want to dress up in those pesky, uncomfortable costumes and spend days beneath layers of heavy makeup? Well, the answer is – because they love the characters they’re cosplaying. They actually do their best to enliven their favorite characters, in whichever way they can, be them newbies or veterans. Generally speaking, it’s a good, supportive community. People tend to help each other, either by giving advice or by physically helping when it comes to craftsmanship. Best of friends are made in small groups of cosplayers, crafting together.

However, cosplay stays not only among cosplayers. Reactions of large audiences, social activists or simply trolls and haters can occasionally make it a somewhat unpleasant experience.              On the internet; the biggest showcase of all things cosplay, people can say anything they desire with no actual consequences, and that means they can litter the work of others however they like. And this gives birth to many so-called cosplay drama problems.

For instance, body shaming seems to be an issue going on. If you decide to cosplay out of your body type – get ready to roll over the thin ice. Rather obviously, overweight Sailor Moons and underweight Rose Quartzes are not exactly shamed in the same ways… In short, overweight cosplayers impersonating obviously thin characters get shamed only by trolls, or people who actually know nothing about the cosplay passion, or what the hobby is about in general, and very rarely by the cosplayers. These trolls probably worship oversexualized cosplayers, who again, make different sorts of appropriations to the characters they cosplay, gather the obviously biggest attention for it, and are a group on its own entirely. On the other side, if cosplayer who is underweight in comparison with the selected character cosplays as it, with or without a “fat suit”, they’re likely to be shamed by Tumblr activists – the same ones who worship the abovementioned overweight group – and very, very aggressively. Double standards everywhere? Indeed. What makes someone’s love for a character less worthy of another’s? That’s right, nothing.

About the same goes for cultural appropriation, or ethnical and racial issues of cosplay. Perhaps the most common point of concern you’ll find out there is the “whitewashing”. It starts with the premise that it’s definitely insensitive to cosplay a Negroid character if you are… anything else than a Negroid. Especially if you are Caucasian. Why is this? Because of the sensitive nature of the course of history, and the known origins of whitewashing… wait a little - most of the anime/manga localized characters actually belong into the Mongoloid race! …And there goes cosplay overboard, into the sea of politics. No race has exclusively suffered over making others suffer - or themselves, for that matter; be them white, black, yellow, red, green, blue, or any other color. Again – what is it in the franchises that can stop the fans from loving a character of any race, and therefore make the ultimate homage to them by cosplaying? That’s right, nothing.

Let’s break down the word “cosplay” once again. It derives from the words “costume” and “play”, which is essentially what makes us remember what the whole thing is, and should be about. What’s most confusing about this whole drama bucket is that, people seem to fight for some sort of equality, whereas, by making sorts of it, they erase the meaning of equality. Or positivity, as they like to call it. Equality isn’t about segregating people as discriminated, deprived, neglected, or minoritizing them anyhow – equality is about treating everyone the same, no exceptions. And that is what the true spirit of cosplay is, at the beginning, in the middle and in the end.

In a nutshell, drama is where you want it to be, and where you make it. Cosplay is about crafting, acting, feeling good, having fun and sharing it, some of them or all of them – whatever you choose. So get your lazy back up and cosplay your favorite character now!

Tenshi Journal author