Monday, January 18, 2010

When and how cosplay goes wrong?

You will not see any low-class images in this post. There are multiple webpages dedicated to make fun of people who doesn't fill the "regulations" for so called good cosplay. The worst ones are created and updated by individuals who belong in the same fandom as the persons from whom they are publishing pictures without permission. "Cosplay gone wrong" is probably the most horrid thing born in the finger-pointing and failure seeking "righteous" fandom. It might have started from a joke, but have quickly exploded into phenomenon. The main purpose seems to be insulting and bad-mouthing without any modesty. It resembles rasism, because usually the "failures" are related to race, skin colour and bodytype.

Lately and possibly because our current costume project I have been digging up information about early fan-based costuming. People have always been imitating their idols' appearance (Queen Mary Antoinette, "The Count of Rein", thus creating fashion), but dressing up like fictional characters is more late discovery. The first spark in fan-costuming, or now-a-days "cosplay" is not originated in Japan even tought the word cosplay was born and created by native Japanese. Nobuyuki "Nov" Takahashi was the first to use the term "cosplay" in his article in My Anime magazine (June 1983). Thus he came the inventor of the word. But it is said that Forrest J Ackerman was the first person to wear "futuristicostume" designed by Myrtle R. Douglas at 1st World Science Fiction Convention in 1939.

Still it's quite common to bump into opinion of Japanese being the superior and the only righteous cosplayers. It is true that the huge development took part in Japan when cosplay started to become more popular in mid 80's. If that is put aside, the usual argument why Japanese just are better, is that anime and manga are from Japan. So they are the only ones who should cosplay. Usually this is being said by non-Japanese, which is quite bizarre. In Japan cosplay does not only mean dressing up as anime and manga characters, the field of inspiration is much wider. Is the reason just ignorance or is there something more in it?

If you are cosplaying character from anime and manga, which are originated from Japan the chances of having disliked comments is highly predictable. And the argument is, that the characters in the series look like Japanese when you as a Caucasian, do not. I'm not sure how to react in this kind of opinion or am I just unable to see the resemblance, which for some seems to be clear as a day? Can I justify my costume if the character in the anime/manga is described as European? Or are the characters, even if named in an European way and living in historical France played by Japanese... cartoon... people? Everyone who conciders to cosplay as Spock, do not. You must be alien. Live long and prosper. Nano-nano.

If the Japanese aspect is forgotten the other targets, when looking failures are skin colour and physique. It can become invincible to keep cosplaying, when all you get is how big your nose is, how dark you are and how fat you are and all the effort you have put in the costume doesn't have any effect. Cosplay being based on clothing and designs, mimicin outer appearance of the character the degrating is mostly aimed at the person. It would make more sense, if the negative comments would relate to the costume's construction. If you don't have waist narrow enought or even have few kilos extra that seems to make you not only ugly and unfit for cosplay, but also failure, stupid and lazy in all aspects of life. Where did the "costume" and "play" concept go? How come cosplay seems to be turning into beauty pageant and look-alike realm?

Not everyone are willing to suffer with full bodypaint and corcets and there should be no need for those. Cosplay is not always performed to please the public eye and to gain acknowledgement. Cosplay itself can't go wrong, because there are no guidelines. None at all. But the by-products can go wrong and seems that they are getting more ignorant and ugly.

People seem to lose their touch to reality regarding cosplay. Cosplay goes wrong at the precise moment, when people start to think that they are qualified to make rules for cosplay and that they can start to criticise others harshly based on those . And they sometimes really seem to believe that they are right. Are they forgetting that behind the costume there is a person who might have different point of view? They might cosplay for their own sake, for fun not trying to achieve "a professional level". Or are these self-proclaimed critics just in love with their "cunning insights" that they just need to yammer about them? If contructive (as constructive) critique is wanted , it also will be asked for.

I might have said this before and will continue to say that cosplay is a hobby. Hobbies are not related to outer appearance. They are practiced based on interest and for enjoyment.
Cosplay should not be restricted by looks, not of the character or the enthusiastic fan. In my point of view everyone are free to cosplay whoever they want. There are no regulations for cosplay if competitions are not counted. Even thought cosplay is a hobby which is really visual and even superficial, everyone does it regarding their own reasons and causes. And there is no wrong in that.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Arisbeth!

    Could you post me your e-mail address or send it as a private message on Youtube? I would love to answer you on your comment!