What IS Cosplay and Why Do People Do It?

Cosplay. It’s a word that’s been on the lips of almost every geek lately. It’s surrounded by controversy, currently a major representation of the misogyny that women encounter in the geek subculture. People love it, hate it, live it and breathe it, or merely accept it. It’s a fundamental part of conventions, and as the years have gone by cosplay has gone from the few and the hardcore to a massive net of costume enthusiasts spreading across the globe. If you go to a convention and you’re NOT in a complex costume, you are the minority. Image sharing websites like imgur and tumblr explode with cosplay photos, and it has made its way so dominantly into pop culture that “cosplay” has even been trending on twitter a few times over the last few months.

But despite its intense saturation, there are still many people who are a little unsure about what exactly cosplay is. What does cosplay mean? What makes people want to spend hours and hundreds if not thousands of dollars on representing a fictional character? What is cosplay?

Cosplay is a shortened form of two words – costume and play. The early 90s saw the rising of cosplay into popular culture, although it probably originated initially in Japan. It is the practice of portraying a fictional character – at times completely identifying as that character while in costume (and thus acting as if the individual was that character to add to the authenticity of the experience).

It is of my own opinion that cosplay is not merely costuming, but a very unique form of performance art. It is most widely associated with comic books, anime, video games, and most things that are geeky in nature. It has become such a massive subculture within the geek world at this point that is is essentially synonymous with the idea of a convention or a gathering of individuals who subscribe to more “geeky” interests.

From personal experience, I have found that people cosplay for a multitude of reasons. Be it love of a character, enjoying the attention of being in an elaborate costume or portraying a loved character, or the appreciation from peers from completing a complex costume… there are many motivations for donning spandex or cape.

I reached out to my social networks and asked an important question of cosplayers: “Why do YOU cosplay?” These are some of the responses that I received:

“Cosplay is about two things. First it’s about expressing the things you love. Those people who play DnD and wear wizard hats while they do it should understand. It’s one thing to run around talking about how you love Assassin’s Creed and it’s another entirely to be like “whoo I’m an assassin!” (or assassin’s girlfriend/future wife, as the case may be, but that’s because she was easier for me to pull off and I wanted to do a more complex costume.) Let’s face it, a lot of us wish we could live in video games/tv shows/movies/comic books/animes, because it’s so interesting. And it’s nice to devote a part of yourself to something. Making cosplay takes a ton of time but that’s half the fun for me. It sort of consumes your life for a bit.

The second part is community. I’ve met a ton of amazing people who like the same thing I do because we saw each other across the room wearing shows that the other one liked. And, yes, having your picture taken is a lot of fun, but a lot more of the pictures that are taken are not ‘wow you look hot/badass (though, yes, that does happen) but OH MY GOD YOU’RE ____!! I LOVE THAT CHARACTER/SHOW/ETC and that’s just awesome.

And let’s face it: the best part of cosplay is when a little kid sees you and gets excited to meet you/the superhero or whatever you’re being. There’s pretty much nothing better.”Sabrina Ranellucci

“Cosplay, for me, is like a badge of pride. Growing up, I was often told to be ashamed of my interests, that I needed to fear not acting enough “like a girl,” or that it was a phase I would eventually grow out of and learn to be ashamed of. Instead, I learned to embrace fandom as part of what makes me who I am, and cosplay is a large facet of that. It allows me to wear my interests on my sleeve (literally), and be proud them. Sure, it can be a challenging, frustrating hobby, but for all the hard work, watching the costume and the character come alive is really reward in itself.”Kaitlyn Montague

“There are lots of great reasons to cosplay, and while I have several I can point to, the real driving force for me has been self-confidence. I spent many years of my youth feeling awkward, ugly and unwanted by my peers. I hung out with my fellow nerds in school, and while I was accepted there, it wasn’t enough because I wasn’t happy with myself. Cosplay has helped turn that around. It’s helped me be more comfortable not only with my outward appearance, but more confident emotionally. It’s hard not to feel confident strutting around in Poison Ivy’s leaves or wearing your best pair of ass-kicking Black Canary boots.”Mac Beauvais

” 1. Cosplaying is my prefered method of being social. I got into it because my friends started doing it and it looked like a blast! Nowadays I can’t imaging going to a convention and NOT cosplaying, that’s just crazy.

2. I also am into it for the technical challenge of building costumes and props. Building props is now my professional career and making new and exciting costumes keeps me on the bleeding edge of costume fabrication technique.

3. Lastly, I really enjoy taking up the visage of my favorite characters from video games. Who DOESN’T want to be Commander Sheppard and look like a total badass?!”Bill Doran

“Defining why I’m passionate is a lot harder than just “doing”. I’ve always enjoyed dressing up, and wanted to sew (I make most of my costumes except a few) and cosplay lets me do that. I get to bring My favorite characters to “Life” so to speak, and seeing others (especially kids) light up with joy, makes it worth all the trouble I put into everything. 

Cosplay helped me make more friends than I ever had in high school, junior high, and elementary school combined. (In other words, I was bullied and a social outcast.) It’s let me be the best me possible and learn skills that I can constantly grow upon and has helped me focus on what I want to do with my life far better than Any class or school has. So that’s why I’m passionate about it, it’s sort of a huge part of my life, and I honestly can not picture living a life without costumes because that’s just boring! I can be me, every day of the week, but for those three days during a convention? I can embody some of my favorite characters, and it’s so much fun.”Katarina Meowsir
“My love of cosplay is equal parts process and product.  I get a thrill out of the challenge of creating, of looking at something and thinking “how would I make that?” Sure there are frustrating parts, but even the late nights, the mistakes, the problem solving, the inevitable jerryrigging is part of what makes every project interesting. If I didn’t love the process of creating a cosplay I wouldn’t be able to put in the countless hours (and significant amount of money) that I do. Walking around a convention in a cosplay is also very satisfying, not because of the attention, but because it is my way of wearing my nerd on my sleeve. When someone recognizes my costume it is a wonderful moment of geeking out with someone who shares the same passion as me – some people wear t-shirts to show what they love, I just happen to wear a costume.  I am a nerd that cosplays and also a cosplay nerd.”Lauren Bond

 

And me? Why do I cosplay? While I think these responses pretty much summed up the feelings of cosplayers in general, the reason I cosplay is because there is nothing more exhilarating to me than to portray a character that I grew up loving. I led a lonely, isolated childhood, and comic book and other fictional characters were my best friends for many years. Superheroines taught me to be a strong, badass specimen of a woman, and so embodying these pillars of kick butt femininity is such a rush for me. There is nothing more rewarding than BECOMING that character for a day or a weekend – like dressing up like Wonder Woman and people calling me Diana. I cosplay because I love my fandoms – and I want them to be real.

And what about you? Why do you cosplay? Why do you NOT cosplay? Has reading this made you more curious about dressing up or do you have a newfound respect for cosplayers? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 


Molly McIsaac loves unicorns, ice cream, and pretending to be fictional characters. You can follow her outspoken weirdness on her twitter or at her lifestyle and fashion blog The Geeky Peacock.

Comments

  1. zombiemoses zombiemoses says:

    I cosplay to feel sexy! Actually I do it because embodying a character you love is the ultimate way to express yourself at a convention. It doesn’t even have to be anime or comics. Me and my friends dress as members of Japanese rock bands from a genre called Visual Kei. If I am at a con without a costume I almost feel naked now.

    The best part of a convention for me is when I make an obscure costume thats meaningful to me and somebody correctly guesses it and wants a picture of me posing. I also love taking pictures of others and gushing over the inventive and crazy costumes others make and trading crafting secrets! Next con for me is Katsucon!

  2. Qpeeples Qpeeples says:

    While I don’t cosplay, I want to chime in here because so much negativity has been laid out on those who do. As someone who attends conventions, I have to say that I admire and enjoy every cosplayer I come in contact with. You provide so much joy, excitement and happiness to the environs. There isn’t enough FUN in the world and you guys and gals provide it in abundance. I also have to add that I bring both my kids along (one boy and one girl) and to see their eyes light up when they see you is something that is priceless. Don’t let anybody knock you off your horse – you rock. And we thank you!

  3. jxc says:

    The only con I go to anymore specifically advises against dressing up because it’s inappropriate for the environment it takes place in. I, for one, am glad.

  4. JokersNuts JokersNuts says:

    The fact that there is a part of the comics fanbase that discourages and is often times downright hostile towards cosplayers makes my die a little inside. It’s like loving Christmas but hating Christmas Carolers

    • angelicfey says:

      Finely stated.

    • kzap kzap says:

      Good point. Personally I’m not a fan of Christmas carols (although I’m not a massive fan of Christmas) but I wouldn’t hate on the people who do it, that’s just stupid.
      It’s the same with cosplay, I can understand why someone wouldn’t like it or would even be “weirded out” by it but to hate on those who enjoy doing it is just ludicrous.
      Personally, while I don’t have the time or commitment to do it myself I have a lot of respect for those who do. I’ve never been into dressing up, to the extent that when my school did non-school uniform days for charity (pay a pound you get to come in costume or your own clothes to school) I wouldn’t bother.
      One day I’d love to dip my toe in the water and do something simple like Richard Fell but I feel like I’d be judged as an outsider who didn’t really put the effort in.

  5. Great perspectives. I don’t cosplay myself but I think it adds a uniqueness to the comic book/geek community. I appreciate the effort people put into their costumes and the crap they put up with just to express themselves.

    On second thought, I do rock a Tom Brady or Jason Varitek jersey on gamedays so maybe I’m just a lazy cosplayer. :)

  6. Grandturk says:

    I don’t cosplay because I don’t like costumes of any sort. I have a fierce dislike of Halloween. While I acknowledge that its everyone’s individual right to dress as they want – my mind is saying, “that’s not right.”

    I have the same thought about the “play” aspect as I do when I think about Daniel Day Lewis staying in character while filming – like – even when you go into a Starbucks? WTF would Abe be thinking if he walked into a Starbucks?

  7. LanceTX says:

    While I would never dress up for a convention, cosplay doesn’t bother me at all. That said, all the discussion of it is getting tiresome. It’s just people dressing up and doesn’t seem like it should warrant article after article.

    • Molly McIsaac Molly McIsaac (@MollyMcIsaac) says:

      A fellow member of the ifanbase actually asked me to write an article on this topic, so obviously continued discussion is needed for some.

    • Conor Kilpatrick Conor Kilpatrick (@cskilpatrick) says:

      @LanceTX: Just because you aren’t interested, it doesn’t mean that others aren’t. The cosplay discussion articles were among our most viewed articles in November. It is clearly a subject of high interest right now. And as Molly said, this particular article subject was one that was requested in the comments of her last article.

    • LanceTX says:

      Served

  8. Art1318 Art1318 says:

    My family and I attend about 2-3 cons a year and go merely for panels and for the chance to buy cool hard to find stuff, but our 4 year old son loves the chance to take a picture with some of his favorite charcters.

    So for the most part we have enjoyed most of the cosplayer we have met , but over the last few years I have noticed that more and more cosplayer beleive they own the con floor. Some time they wear huge elaborate coustmes that could get in peoples way. Which happened to us this past SDCC . I’m that jerk who has a stroller on the convention floor, as i said before we have a 4 year old and he loves con, but trying to walk through the throngs of people espically at SDCC is just too much for a littl kid so i take a stroller which we got our fair amounts of dirty looks and snickers from pertty much every one. So i’m going pushing our stroller down one of the overly crowed aisle at con where we brush up against a cosplayer weraing a coutume that im not familiar with that involves a set of wings that much stick out about 4ft on each side and some very high platform shoes. Her wings just grazed the handle of our stroller , but you might as well thought we tore the damn things off. She gave me one of the diriest looks i’ve evere gotten and muttered some obscenities under her breath as she stormed of. I’m not to ignorant to be aware of my own fault in this by bringing a stroller to an event like this, but for this person to not take any responsibility in her part for her obstructive coustume is not right either her piss poor attitude.

    • USPUNX USPUNX says:

      Interesting point. There have a been a number of articles, and rightfully so, about how cosplayers are sometimes mistreated at cons, but it’d be interesting to see one about how cosplayers also sometimes walk around with a seeming sense of entitlement. In my experience with cosplyers, limited as it is, this is a small percentage but just like it is only a small percentage of guys who grossly creep on female cosplayers, they do exist. Therefore, perhaps it should be explored in an article, both the good and bad of cosplay. How many requests am I allowed???

    • Grandturk says:

      Maybe this particular cosplayer was just staying in character? So they can use that as an excuse – “so and so fictional character wouldn’t apologize for hitting your childs stroller.”

      Little silly if you ask me. Why would that character go to a con in the first place? What’s their motivation?

    • Molly McIsaac Molly McIsaac (@MollyMcIsaac) says:

      Just to play devil’s advocate: cosplayers spend hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars on costumes, investing hours and hours of their personal time to constructing these works of art. While to you it may have seemed like “just a light bump”, the wings may have been fragile and she may have had people running into them all day. She may have been at her wit’s end.

      Cosplayers dress elaborately because conventions oftentimes have masquerades or costume contests that involve massive cash prizes or qualifications for the world cosplay summit – a massive international competition that culminates in the finalists from different countries going out to Japan for the final competition. However, a lot of these costumes generally take HOURS to strap yourself into, so while they wait for judging/the competition, they should also be allowed to experience the con.

    • Molly McIsaac Molly McIsaac (@MollyMcIsaac) says:

      And finally: wearing the biggest, craziest, most eye catching costume gets photographers to take your photos. It means you get on MTV and Maxim. You can become a psuedo celebrity overnight just by embodying a fictional character, and to some there is major appeal in this. Everyone is just trying to make their own way in the world, and while cosplayers may sometime have “attitude”, I implore you to put yourselves in other’s shoes before passing rash judgements – cosplayers or otherwise.

    • Grandturk says:

      If you walk around a crowded con with a Faberge Egg, you can’t really be upset if you get bumped into and you drop it.

    • USPUNX USPUNX says:

      @molly: I think that’s a fair point asking non-cosplayers to take into account a cosplayers financial and time investment. Many costumes are beautiful and clearly required a serious amount of creativity and commitment to construct and wear. I agree with all of that. I was only saying isn’t also fair for non-cosplayers to take into account the feelings and personal space, especially in regard to a small child, of non-cosplayers? It seems if one holds true the other should as well.

      I mean can’t we all just get along!?!?! This us against them mentality is ripping the country apart!!! Fiscal cliff!!!! Partisan hatred!!! (shakes fist in the air) OBAMA!!!!!

    • USPUNX USPUNX says:

      @grandturk: I guess comparing a rare and to most people largely irrelevant antiquity to a small child makes sense to you? What an absurd and pointless metaphor.

      Besides earlier in this very thread you twice declared how much you dislike cosplay and then right here you defend it? Are you here to make a point or just start inane arguments?

    • Grandturk says:

      @USPUNX – no, I was responding to Molly’s point about the cosplayer having the right to be angry they were bumped because they had spent hundreds/thousands on their costume.

      I would also expect someone who bumped into a CHILD to APOLOGIZE – I don’t care how much their costume cost.

    • Art1318 Art1318 says:

      @Molly I understand that making a cool coustume is a very giant and difficult undertaking, but thats no excuse to act like a jerk which this person did. Like i said in my comment before we have had many good experince’s with cool cosplayers that are more than happy to take the time and pose and take a picture with our kid, but in the past few years it seems to me that there have been a growing number that do indeed feel some sense of entitlement. At the end of the day no one asked anyone to dress up, and each person made that decsion as they walked out of there door wearing whatever elaobrate coustume they made. While I can respect the amount of time and effort that goes to making these awesome coustume, that no excuse to being rude. Especially somone wearing somrthing so obtrusive at a place like SDCC where it’s already hard to manuver with so many people.

    • kzap kzap says:

      Art1318 Makes a good point actually. If I wore a five thousand dollar suite to a construction site, I wouldn’t really have a right to complain if it got spoiled. Cosplayers have the right to spend as much time and money on their costume as they want but I think they should also take into account where they’re going it could very well get damaged. I’m sure many do but at the end of the day everyone is just as entitled to be there, just because you spent thousands of dollars on your appearance doesn’t entitle you to special treatment. It’s nice when people are extra cautious around you but you shouldn’t expect it and you certainly shouldn’t verbally abuse someone over an honest mistake.
      Like I said I’m sure most of Cosplayers are great people but there’s always a minority and much like the minority of misogynist geeks it’s always better to talk about the issue than sweep it under the carpet.

    • USPUNX USPUNX says:

      @kzap: +1. Well said.

    • LanceTX says:

      @Art1318, While I’ve never had that issue, I just don’t understand defending someone acting like an idiot because they accidentally got bumped into. The reason I am sick of all of this cosplay talk is because it is becoming a very one-sided argument. It seems like, with these articles, that cosplayers are above everything. So, some guy is an asshole for taking a picture of a girls butt (which I agree with) but someone who is an asshole to a family is justified?

  9. I am just flabbergasted that it is even a point of contention. While I never would participate or dress up, why would anyone care if others do? I enjoy seeing how much time and creativity that people put into their costumes. Now some people do get inappropriate with it, but that is true of everything. Seeing a lady wearing a Baroness costume that is only being kept on due to a zipper made of what appears to be a mixture of adamantium and mithril bothers me no more than the lady at the local bar who dresses inappropriately for her age.

    I would like to know how the controversy is a manifestation of misogyny. The author makes the assertion then follows it up with nothing.

    • Molly McIsaac Molly McIsaac (@MollyMcIsaac) says:

      You should go back and do some reading of other articles I have written. There have been some awful remarks made by professionals lately that have blown up the internet. I suggest googling “cosplay misogyny” and seeing what you find. One of my pieces made it to think progress, see here: http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2012/10/30/1108631/creepshots-cosplay/

    • MaxPower MaxPower says:

      The misogyny issue was covered heavily in this previous article: http://ifanboy.com/articles/how-to-behave-like-a-human-being-at-conventions/

    • Well, to play the game of semantics, I do not see how men oggling you shows a hatred or dislike of women. That is the definition of misogyny in the dictionary on my desk. What you are describing is just simple douche baggery. When I see an attractive woman at a con rocking a costume I don’t take pictures or get rude, but I do look. It is not because I hate women or think they are lower than a man. It is because I am a flesh and blood man and looking at beautiful women is a pleasure. We are going to stare. Just like all the women screaming at a showing of Magic Mike. Hey, they like checking you out. Is that a crime? If it is the human race will come to a screaching halt.

      It seems disingenuous to take the bad behavior of a few people and use it as a blanket indictment of an entire subculture.

    • IthoSapien IthoSapien says:

      There was actually an article on Yahoo 2 or 3 days ago on declining birth rates in the US and how it was going to impact the future. The whole thing about (male) comic readers and the industry itself being misogynist has been around for years, this seems like another thing thats been added to the list. The reason we all get saddled with the blame for the minority of jerks is because I guess the rest of us aren’t doing anything to stop it, part of the problem and not the solution etc.

  10. pyynk pyynk says:

    For me there are a few major reasons.

    First, it’s somewhat easier to put a Weather Wizard costume together than to go up to each person at a convention and say, “Hey, I dig the Flash’s Rogues. How about you? And hey, how come there are four Robins running around, but we can’t have Wally West?”

    And as others have said, there’s the camraderie. Several years ago, my best friend mentioned that the only way he’d ever do a costume would be as the Ted Kord Blue Beetle. I replied that if he’d actually do Blue Beetle, I’d put together a Booster Gold costume. He’s since moved out of town, but every year at Dragon*Con we run the floor as the Blue and the Gold (or this year as the Elongated and the Gold) hitting the bars in character and catching up.

    Finally, I love the research and craft aspect inherent in the hobby. Figuring out exactly what a character SHOULD be carrying or using, sourcing it, and buying or building those items is fun. Not only do I get to stretch my research muscles, but I get to work with my hands on a project.

  11. USPUNX USPUNX says:

    Molly–Great article, I really enjoyed it! It was nice to get an inside look at why cosplayers take the hobby so seriously. The quotes from other cosplayers, particularly Sabrina’s, are a great insight. While I’m still not a cosplayer, I do have a much better appreciation after your series of articles.

    Just out of curiosity, what costume of yours are you must proud of?

  12. Toshimoko29 Toshimoko29 says:

    I actually clicked on the article to see if there was something I was missing about cosplay, why everyone seems to make a big deal out of it. Turns out, there isn’t really anything to miss; it’s as simple as it seems. I am all for people doing what makes them happy, but I can safely say that I will never be dressing up for anything. Even after reading the article, I can’t figure out why anyone would want to.

    • Molly McIsaac Molly McIsaac (@MollyMcIsaac) says:

      I received over 30 testimonials, and the one running theme I found in the majority of them is that cosplayers have low self esteem or where bullied for their interests when they were younger. Cosplay is self expression of the things that they love.

    • Molly McIsaac Molly McIsaac (@MollyMcIsaac) says:

      Ahem, fixing my typo: where = were

  13. Excellent explanation of the hobby, and very welcome for those of us who have previously only had a fuzzy understanding. I’m not sure who would be up for it, but I’d love to see a similar explanation of “geek subculture.” Molly mentioned its connection to cosplay, but I have always been similarly unsure about what all the subculture entails. Specifically, I’d like to understand its connection to comics. Do most comics readers self-identify as geeks? I have been reading comics since the late 80′s but have only recently become aware (after discovering this website, actually) that geek chic is a “thing.” I don’t think I’ve heard Ron, Conor or Josh refer to themselves as geeks (only ageing hipsters!), but I may be wrong about this.

    • Molly McIsaac Molly McIsaac (@MollyMcIsaac) says:

      I refer to myself as a geek because it was used as a bad word through extensive bullying I encountered as a youngster. Basically, I’m re-claiming the word, and I think that’s why many people refer to themselves as such.

    • Grandturk says:

      Geek is a tough word. It can be applied to many different interests – certainly more than just and interest in comic books.

    • Molly McIsaac Molly McIsaac (@MollyMcIsaac) says:

      @Grandturk Indeed! In the past (about a year ago in an article for this very website!) I explained that I believe you can be a geek about ANYTHING – even if it’s making homemade ice cream. I think as long as you’re passionate about something, you can say you’re a geek for it.

    • Grandturk says:

      Trudat.

    • Thanks Molly, that’s interesting. Being bullied is terrible, so I’m sorry that you had to endure that. It seems like you’ve survived as a strong and successful individual, and I can understand the concept of reappropriating a hurtful word.

      I guess what piqued my interest in this particular subject was when you mentioned cosplay, comic books, anime and video games as being “geeky in nature” and referred to “geeky interests.” Personally, to varying degrees, I enjoy comics, anime films, and video games (check out that Centipede avatar!), but don’t really think of myself as a geek (and fortunately I was never bullied in the way you described). To be clear, I’m not offended of you referring to these things as geeky (clearly you use the term with no malice).

      Anyway, I have a lot of other questions and thoughts about it all, but really I’d like to hear someone with a more well-formed opinion than myself give their two-cents.

    • glennsim says:

      @Master Destructo – it would probably be easier for someone who does not self-identify as a “geek” to define this, but I’ll give it a shot.

      In my time, I have run across people who had no idea why someone would want to spend time dealing with something that wasn’t “real”. Super-heroes aren’t real. Animated characters aren’t real. When you’re playing a video game, you’re not really doing anything (as compared to playing or watching a sport involving real humans). They rather understand TV dramas, but even then the dramas should be like “Law and Order” where the people are all generally living realistic lives and encountering real-world problems. So the fact that someone would want to deal with things that are “unrealistic” can be baffling to other people. I think they see it as spending time accomplishing nothing, because the energy is being placed into something that has no reality. And so that is what I think often puts the “geek” label on people who want to do those things.

      It can also be a matter of degree. Watching a football game isn’t geeky. Memorizing all of the stats of every player on the team, past and present, is geeky. It involves spending a lot of time doing something that other people can’t conceive of the value of. It can also take the place of social development (in a chicken-and-egg sort of way – sometimes it prevents the social development, sometimes it takes the place of it), further differentiating that person from the norm.

      A lot of “geeky” activities also involve what I call “thinking for fun’. For a lot of people, thinking is what you do at work and in school – when you’re ready to relax, you want to stop thinking. So playing a role-playing game with a bunch of rules doesn’t seem to make sense to a lot of people. They’d rather just watch a simple TV show or sporting event where they aren’t having to process information.

      So really knowing whether something is geeky is rather more of a matter of looking at the patterns, but a great many people have been made to feel less-than for having interests with the qualities above.

  14. kennyg kennyg says:

    I do think it is polite and necessary to ask someone’s permission before you take their picture. And I think as a man I would always ask a female cosplayer before taking her picture. I don’t want to be “that guy.”

    This all reminds me of the trip to Europe I took with the school in 1983 (told you I was old!). They told us flat out, if you come upon any punk rockers and want to take their photo, ASK FIRST. Well, one time in Germany one guy photographed some across the town square with a telephoto lens, and we got chased by irate punkers. Like, run for your life chased. While I don’t think you risk getting your ass kicked at a con by some cosplayers, why risk it?

  15. walterwhite walterwhite says:

    I don’t care how much it cost to make you’re costume, if you hit my baby girl in her stroller and don’t say sorry cause your big expensive wing hit her I’m ripping the other one off and beating you to death with it. Seriously tho this stuff about women being mistreated cause of men gwaking at them reminds me of a Dave Chappelle joke and it goes like this.

    “The girl says ‘Oh uh-uh, wait a minute! Wait a minute! Just because I’m dressed this way does not make me a whore!’ Which is true. Gentlemen, that is true. Just because they dress a certain way doesn’t mean they are a certain way. Don’t ever forget it. But ladies, you must understand that is fvcking confusing. It just is. Now that would be like me, Dave Chappelle, the comedian, walking down the street in a cop uniform. Somebody might run up on me, saying, ‘Oh, thank God. Officer, help us! Come on. They’re over here. Help us!’ ‘Oh-hoh! Just because I’m dressed this way does not make me a police officer!’ See what I mean? All right, ladies, fine. You are not a whore. But you are wearing a whore’s uniform.”

    • walterwhite walterwhite says:

      Typo on top Your

    • USPUNX USPUNX says:

      Haha, I remember that joke, that was a good stand up.

      Ah, Dave Chappelle. Yeah, it’s probably good to quote a guy who started his career by staring in Half Baked, and then attained a decent level of success, mainly with stoners, and then freaked out due to said success and fled to Africa, in the middle of production, violating the lucrative and long term contract he had JUST signed, abandoning his friends and employeer, and leaving his cast, crew, writers, and collaborators stunned and unemployed. Yeah, that’s the go to guy for moral advice on how to treat people.

    • USPUNX USPUNX says:

      Maybe if ifanboy ever does an article on drug addiction you could quote us the thoughts of Tony Montana or your namesake Walter White.

    • @walterwhite: Also a big fan of the Chappelle show. Comedians sometimes say outrageous and offensive things in the context of a club or TV show. People watching the show go in with an understanding that ridiculous things will be said for the sake of humor, and that the comedians are equal-opportunity offenders and are not espousing actual social policy or ethical behavior. It is an act.

      While I may have laughed at this piece of Chappelle’s social satire in the context of the TV show, in the context of this article, I find it totally inappropriate and irrelevant.

    • kzap kzap says:

      I agree with Master Destructo, while as a piece of stand-up that’s amusing it shouldn’t be taken as a serios point and in fact it’s quite dangerous to do so. I know plenty of comedians that I find funny, like Frankie Boyle and Marcus Brigstocke who suggest things that, if taken seriously, are totally inappropriate but seem funny at the time. It’s all about context.
      I’ve said this before but I’m an idealist who thinks people should have the right to wear (or not wear) whatever they want and not be treated differently because of it, wouldn’t it be a happy world if that were the case?
      You could go to work in jeans and a t-shirt, a burqa, a super-man outfit or totally nude and not be judged solely on the content of your character.

    • IthoSapien IthoSapien says:

      People judge others based on how they look and/or dress. It’s how humans deal with being around others. There are flaws in judging by appreance (Ted Bundy comes to mind). Dressing in certain ways carries expectations based on your clothes, like walking around in a police costume makes people think you are a cop. Whenever I go out of the house I give some thought about my appreance and how people will react to it. Whether or not Chappelle was joking or not, he makes a good point on how what people wear (especially women) influences what people think about you.

    • kzap kzap says:

      @IthoSapien
      No one is saying it doesn’t happen (we all know people judge others based on appearance) the question is if they SHOULD.
      I’ know there are some countries where Christianity is illegal and you’d be risking your life going out wearing a crucifix but some people still do, to make a stand for what they believe is right.
      Society won’t change unless people force it to and the only way people won’t be judged on their outward appearance is if enough people make a stand and have the confidence to wear what they want.
      Saying that “People judge others based on how they look and that’s just the way it is” isn’t helping anyone, together we can stand up ageist this prejudice (because that’s what it is) and make a change but that won’t happen if we do nothing.

    • walterwhite walterwhite says:

      Like I said this reminds me of a joke that Mr. Chappelle said, but it does contain valid points like Mr@IthoSapien explained. The j/k was really aimed at what @BulgarianBullwhip said who I agree with.

      @USPUNX It seems you not fan of stoners and Mr. Chappelle which is your right, but like you said it’s a funny JOKE. your comment about how I should quote Tony Montana if this site does a article about drug addiction,I’m gonna give two quotes that are even better-Nancy Reagan-JUST SAY NO, and Mr Mackey South Park-Drugs are bad ummm Kay-hope that makes you happy

      @Master Destructo you felt my comment was inappropriate and irrelevant. fair enough Happy Holidays:)

    • kzap kzap says:

      @walterwhite
      Is it your intention that I read all your comments in Bryan Cranstons voice? Because I instinctively do and it’s occonally very amusing (espeailly hearing peoples usernames).

    • @walterwhite: the same to you, sir (Happy Holidays). Love it when people can disagree and still be civil. And hey, we both like All New X-Men, so there’s that.

    • walterwhite walterwhite says:

      @Mater Destructo Thank you Sir

      @Kzap Right on, just having fun

    • USPUNX USPUNX says:

      @walterwhite: I actually have no problems with stoners. I feel herb should be legal in this country and continuing to include it in our hopelessly failed War on Drugs is doing nothing more than wasting law enforcement resources, taking up space in jails that should be used for violent offenders, and spending money that should be used to combat the addiction of much more harmful and addictive drugs.

      I also have no problem with Chappelle, as I said I think he is funny. I like both his stand up specials and I watched his show religiously when I was in college. My point was I’m not going to base a moral viewpoint on a Dave Chappelle stand up joke. The reasons why are almost literally infinite but Master Destructo and kzap did a great job of summing them up.

      My point with the drug metaphor was that asking someone who has intentionally turned his back on this friends, coworkers, and collaborators for advice on how to treat people makes about as much sense as asking a drug dealer their opinion on addiction.

      Also, don’t EVER quote a Reagan at me. Ever.

    • IthoSapien IthoSapien says:

      Let’s try to have some perspective here, the question itself is not judging people by their appreance (tho that is the general principal). It’s about people dressing up in costume and being mistreated by others because of their costume and others lack of maturity. I accept and admire those who practice Christianity where is illegal, them sacrificing their lives for it not so much. Back to the issue here, everybody judges people on how they look (face, eyes, clothes, hair), I believe Molly did so in an article about geek girls not getting respect. A significant amount of the debates on that article were stating such. If Molly chose to cosplay everyday, or wear Islamic garb for religious reasons, I would support that 100%. Her choosing to do so every time there’s a convention and running into the same problems repeatedly does not fill me with righteous fury. If it sounds like I’m taking either side, I’m not trying or even want to. I want people to (really) think about the issue. And I don’t feel that these posts are “making a stand”, I know she has published 3 or 4 on this site alone but let’s not dramatize this. I want this issue solved sure, but isn’t there a way to reprimand the guys who are causing these problems? I don’t think taking pictures of women in skimpy clothes qualifies as a prejudice (prejudice may play into it), but I’m sure there are other issues at work here (on both sides). Maybe at conventions they can put in flyers and announce over the PA “Hey, if you see any women in skimpy clothes walking around, don’t touch or take their pictures without permission”. I wanted to add so much more sarcasm to that sentence but there’s a real option/solution. Someone want to make a petition or FB page movement, I’ll sign that.

  16. mrmarky mrmarky says:

    I think most cosplayers are fine as are most convention goers. Unfortunately there are douchebags on both sides of the equation that seem to make this “conflict” into a bigger deal than it really is.

  17. Tanner Tanner says:

    I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that there’s a difference between cosplay and costuming. I used to dress up as a stormtrooper with a bunch of other guys dressed like stormtroopers, but we didn’t pretend to be characters we just wore the costumes.

    With cosplay, there’s imagination involved.

  18. daningotham daningotham says:

    Wow, another cosplay story? Cosplay and Marvel’s $3.99 double shipping seem to be the two hot topics as of late. These horses are taking a beating. ;-)

  19. JohnNevets says:

    Molly, great article as usual. But what I have to comment on is that first picture in the article. I’ve always admired your photography skills, but I think that has to be one of the best photos you have posted here. Im not sure if it is just the composition, or the candid nature, or both, but it is really good. Keep up the great work.

    John

  20. Beckinbits Beckinbits says:

    As a person who has done their fair share of cosplaying (I’m the one in the first picture) I can say without a shadow of a doubt that there needs to be respect on both sides. I’ve worn a cosplay out in public that I spent close to 500 dollars making. People taking my pictures without my permission is cool, I don’t seem to mind too much, but I like it when people come up to me and express their interest. It really reinforces why we do the things we do (for the fans that love the characters). I know the risks that are involved with coming out in cosplay, especially one thats expensive. As for cosplayers being dicks to children and hitting people with their big wings and whatnot, that definitely is something that they need to work on. No, its no one elses fault but your own: you knew the risk you were taking making such an ostentatious cosplay, you have no one else to blame but yourself. I remember distinctly a spear I made ended up having the end broken off while I was walking, but I took it as a lesson that I should have had more solid construction and that I shouldn’t blame the person- I, in fact, apologized to them. We were both very sorry, and thats how it should be.

    It’s not about the blame game- its about people all acting like decent human beings and being respectful of all different fans. The scumbags (on both sides) need to learn how to respect everyone. Cosplayers- remember how difficult it was for you to get to the bathroom because you were stopped every 5 seconds for a photo? Attendees- remember how difficult it was for you to get to the bathroom because a cosplayer was crowded by photographers who wouldn’t move? Its the same mutual feeling.

  21. IthoSapien IthoSapien says:

    I’ve never cosplayed before, after all the articles about it I’m turned off by the idea. Last week I was my LCS talking to a couple of cosplayers who (briefly) talked to me about the hobby. No debates or arguments, just 2 people who loved to dress up in costume at comic-cons. I had no idea that cosplaying was being outlawed or cosplayers were being rounded up in paddy wagons.All I’m going to say is that if you keep running into problems while cosplaying around others, maybe you should think about how you go about it? I’ve read the articles, I’m familiar with the politics around the issue, and I know people are empassioned about it, but come it! I’m not taking sides either, not intentionally, but to both sides COME ON! When the next inevitable article comes up about cosplaying, maybe it can include interviews/testimonials about those who don’t cosplay and what they think, or noncosplaying people who go to cons regularly and their thoughts on it.

    • walterwhite walterwhite says:

      @IthoSapien-Like a boss, great points.

    • USPUNX USPUNX says:

      Yeah the arguments regarding cosplay posted on this site have been very one-sided. It’d be nice to see some balance. Not articles saying cosplay is bad or wrong or anything like that, because I don’t think it is, but just even one article that presents the non-cosplayers point of view would be nice.

  22. glennsim says:

    When I was in college, my friends and I attended a small con in Meridian, MS and later hosted a con for several years in Starkville, MS. Generally speaking, the same people were in the Society for Creative Anachronism, so they took that opportunity to dress in their medieval clothing, and sometimes added things like vampire fangs or elven ears, or actually just dressed kinda funny. I had an outfit I wore once which was kindof a nondescript sci-fi adventure thing, with a funny visor, jacket, tights, boots, fake laser pistol and sword, stuff like that. It was indeed something of a freeing experience to be in an environment where you could let loose. And there were awards given out to the folks who had the best ‘walk-around’ costumes, and there was an actual costume contest. This was around the time when X-Men had the story where Rogue was particularly struggling with Ms. Marvel’s memories and there was a sequence where Rogue was wearing the Ms. Marvel costume. A girl at one of the cons had both a Rogue outfit and a Ms. Marvel one and she changed back and forth.
    So I think there have always been people who dressed up at cons. Wendy Pini, creator of Elfquest, was well known for her Red Sonja outfit in the 70s. I do think it has grown, and so it might be having some growing pains. I’ve also not encountered the “play” part of it so much, and I can see where that could be grating to someone who just wanted to have a conversation – we’ve all seen the jokes about the method actors and trying to get along with them.
    I suppose if I had to come up with some negatives about cosplay, I would say one is that it tends to highlight how unrealistic some of these costumes really are, which is like showing the man behind the curtain a bit. It actually takes away some of the illusion.
    On the other hand, while I know I have no idea what goes into it, I also get mildly frustrated when I see a cosplayer and there is some stupid detail they got wrong and it makes me crazy. There was a guy who had a cool X-Men Angel costume, and he had glitter all over the headpiece. Why?!?
    Finally, having scantily-clad women around can be a mixed blessing. It’s a bit hard to focus on whether or not I’ve got issue #36 of Spider-Man 2099 if I’m constantly looking around for boobs. But I recognize that that’s a personal problem.

  23. Ozgothic says:

    Hi – great article but one mistake that confounds everyone – Cosplay did not start with the Japanese – the word was coined by a Japanese artist during a visit to an American Sci Fi Convention in the 1980′s – the Japanese took to Cosplay the same way that they take to all things – with great gusto -so the belief that it is a Japanese concept is understandable if wrong – it is the cause of many arguments between Anime fans and general Sci Fi fans.