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Cosplay - unsorted by danlayton

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Submitted on
October 21, 2008


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Cross posted from my Multiply and Liveju blogs.

Disclaimer: A lot of you know me in the cosplay community, and some of you might think that my words may represent the community or organization im involved in.  These thoughts are my own based from my own observation.  Blame anyone else and ill just laugh at your expense.  Thanks.</i>

Bear with me for adding another thought regarding the cosplay scene, i cant help it if certain issues or stories end up quite thought provoking.

Stories of cosplayers being harassed by some spectators are the common buzz in the community recently, and it had me thinking, what provoked these people to commit such actions that are considered unappropriate by the cosplayers themselves?

There are already tips and suggestions focused towards the audience on how to treat cosplayers. Now in this blog, id like to attempt to give focus on the other side of the spectrum: us.

Honestly, there are times that our actions and choice of appearance do make us prime targets of harassment (intentional or unintentional), even when you say its because you did it for the art, for cosplay or for the lulz (fun).

What im trying to make out in this blog is to answer WHY it happens to us, and what goes on in the mind of some con-goers, perhaps to instill some understanding that even if what they do seem blatantly wrong, we might consider how they came to be that way.

I'll start with the most obvious.

Lets face it, fantasizing a character is a two way street when you cosplay.  Cosplayers wanted to be that dreamy (read: bishie) character, while spectators would want to be WITH their dream character.  Being in public means you are highly accessible to people who would want to stand beside you and be taken a picture. Some may forget that you are NOT that character, just somebody PRETENDING to be one, and who just happens to look very much alike.  

Some of us forget that con-goers know the characters you cosplay, and will sometimes treat that character the same way they see on DVD.  Yes, i know the drill: This is not TV! Ah but you forget, THIS IS COSPLAY! Cosplay a cat-like character, and chances are you will be patted on the head by an over-enthusiastic fan.  Cosplay a character that gets hugged all the time in the anime, and you WILL be hugged by con-goers who would love to replicate that particular scene.  Sure it may sound stupid and socially inept, but we often forget that an anime con IS a gathering of anime otakus (like us!) who feel that they are in their own world or territory, in which we all enjoy each other's fandom.  So in a way, they expect you to be hugged, because the character in the anime did so, no matter how much you verbally abuse/remind them for violating your private space.

That should be common sense to any cosplayer who would think of attempting to cosplay sexy or revealing characters.  True otakus will recognize the nature of your revealing characters and may want to you act out the role.  Just like what i mentioned earlier, you will inherit the role of the character, and if your character is a foxy temptress who likes to caress every male or female she desires, they will expect you to act it out, even if you think its beyond irrational.  This is especially true with characters who are known to be ecchi, who are famous for particular quirks like cleavage or panty shots.  So if you want to get into that role, be ready for the consequences.    

I can attest to this personally.  During Anime Quest 1 back in 2001, i cosplayed a hentai character, particularly a Shikima Demon Lord, complete with all the variable "appendages".  It was painted green of course and not flesh colored to mask its scandalous nature, but die hard otakus recognized me on the spot.  And they played with my appendages to the point that it was already bordering harassment.  One even took a tentacle and tried to shove it in my mouth, in which i told him sternly it wasnt funny anymore.  But later i realized later i brought it all to myself.  A hentai character will be treated as such.  I should have known that.  Sure it was fun to be in a costume as controversial as hentai, but do not go raging over the acts of some people who think of you as that character.  You would have to be patient with them, keep reminding them that you are still a person inside that hentai shell.

Kids who will poke, pull, push, punch, kick, step, grab and even try to ride you.  Because of the fact that you are that invincible war machine they saw on TV.  This is much worse then getting the attention of a teen or grown-up fan, because you cannot shout at the kids nor push them roughly aside without having an angry mob of parents and relatives beat the crap out of you.

If there is anything i'd like to say to all crossdressers out there, is that you all have a long way to go to convince the general populace that what you do is not related to being a homosexual (this is assuming that you're straight and you were paying homage to a character opposite of your sex), because the practice of dressing up as the opposite gender (and wanting to be one) has been as old as civilization itself.  Crossdressers will become targets of ridicule and will be subjected with harassment from their same gender.  Male crossdressers will be surrounded by men who would do things in public that would be unthinkable if done with a girl: holding the shoulders, their hands, their waists, kiss their cheeks and yes, even mash their fake boobs. Same with the female crossplayers and their equally rumbustious female fans.  Some will automatically think that if you crossdress, you are "game" with anything they can image you can do, since you had the guts to wear a skirt or wear tight bandages to imitate a flat chest. You would have to practice a lot in saying "no" without having to end up in a fist fight.

So what is the lesson im trying to say here?  That we cosplayers should bow to the whim of these con-goers with their irrational behaviour and lack of common sense and decency?  

No. That in itself is lack of common sense.  

What im trying to say here is that the behavior you've witnessed the day you started cosplaying has a reason, and its probably the same reason why you cosplayed in the first place: because you love the character.  You have given them (the average con-goer) the opportunity by bringing alive a character that used to be trapped behind a TV or computer screen, and they would want that experience to be memorable.  So what we should do, while we remind them of their actions, is to understand those very actions as well and why they happen.  

The choice of cosplay you make is also your own responsibility.
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nienkiepinkie Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2012  Student Digital Artist
this is verry good
i love cosplay and i want to cosplay Sweden or Russia or England from the populair anime series Axis Powers /Hetalia/World series
but i have a problem with my parents
they do not understand how strong i want this and how i feel about this
i want this so badly but i'm stuck because of my parents
they simpley "forbid" it and i can't do anything about it...
could you please (if it isn't to much to ask)
write a journal about how to explain cosplay and how i can get my parents to see it like i do
thank you :iconbrohugplz:
eva-guy01 Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Ah that's a pretty tricky situation. There are several blogs out there that say a lot of nice things about cosplay, but it gets down to several factors why its often an issue with parents:

1) They fear the influence of cosplay as a negative influence to their children. And with good reason! It all boils down how a person manages their time and priorities. Often their lack of interests in academics and helping around the house may give them good reason not to like cosplay, or any other hobby for that matter.
2) They think Cosplaying is expensive. This is of course very relative. You can be creative with whatever scraps you have at home, or using very inexpensive items around. But I have witnessed some cosplayers who keep asking their parents to pay for their materials or commissions, which is a huge burden to their pockets if their children wanted to cosplay a different costume once a month or so. I had the good luck of already having a part time job while I was in school when cosplay was introduced to me, so there was not so much financial burden to my parents or relatives. But of course, I would always be careful with my priorities, even when I have the means to pay for my own hobby.
3) Keeping your costumes. Having a huge closet full of costumes that you used only a few times can be a nasty eyesore to your parents. Sometimes I choose costumes that I can make and then sell/rent so I can have some money on the side. Its the best compromise I can have with my parents then. And sometimes since I do mecha, I often would recycle them by destroying them (yes, I have willingly destroyed several of my past costumes!) so I can use the materials to make a new one. This solves my space problem at the same time, saving enough money to make new ones. My folks appreciate that the most actually, because I explained that the act of cosplaying is what I enjoy the most in the hobby, other than learning new skills in costume making and appreciating the anime I adore watching (or the manga im reading/collecting).

Hmmm, seems ive created a new blog just for you. :P But it really took me a while to think of the best reply for your question and request. The best act is to compromise, and to assure your parents that you'd still hold on to your family and schoolwork responsibilities despite having this unusual hobby on the side. And like any other hobby, cosplaying should never be the top priority until you graduate, get a job and provide for your own, where you can finally decide as a responsible adult if you want cosplay to be the center of your life of not. Fact of life for everyone. Hope this helps.
Junniechi Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2012  Student General Artist
Thank you for the wonderful advice =D As you have said, everything happens for a reason, knowing the reason is one thing, but accepting it is another (& Buddy System works wonder in this case too, drag some friends who know the circumstance of your character & eye each other for safety)

Sorry to bother but I will love to ask a question, I am planning to do a character from an Ecchi manga, it's quite obscure & the outfit is just plain school uniform, not too much skin is showing =D I will love to debut it in a convention (It's simple & easy to move around) but I am concern of the genre of the character's series, I am aware of the consequences but having it done in a conservative country (Malaysia, FYI) I wonder if it is appropriate in the 1st place, & it will be good to hear another person's opinion on this >W<

Sorry for the long-winded post & happy year 2012! =D
eva-guy01 Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Hi Junniechi! Honestly im in no position to dictate what kind of cosplay people should take because cosplaying meant that you chose that character because you admire them so much to bring it to life, whether it be mainstream, obscure or even from an Ecchi manga.

If you love it so much despite knowing or expecting the best or worst case scenario than go right ahead. Although I do have to warn you that with today's access to the Internet your picture can get around pretty fast (I was lucky enough that mine happened during the dawn of the internet in my country, so pictures of my hentai cosplay didnt circulate that much then). But if it isnt as loud or as obvious as my tongue-in-cheek cosplay I guess you wouldnt have to worry about it. :D
Junniechi Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2012  Student General Artist
*nodsnods* I agree with you =D Passion & love towards character has nothing to do with its origin genre or other aspects, you love your character, & that is it >W<

Thanks for the advice =DDD The character & outfit itself serves no problem, except for the genre so fans who read the series might recognize me as the character, in that case I'll have friends along with me >W<
kiriyoru Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
a great journal indeed :) this is might just what we need to know as newbie cosplayer.
I'm asking your permission to share the link to this journal to my fellow cosplayers in Surabaya city, Indonesia....I really do hope that you won't mind it. It'll be a great reading to us all :D
eva-guy01 Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Go ahead, im more than happy to help! :D Thanks as well!
eva-guy01 Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow, I havent been visiting often my DA journal pages and im surprised this article still has a decent amount of readership. Im glad what I wrote almost 3 years ago still proved informative to those who read it, especially fellow cosplayers. :)

I apologize if I have not replied sooner to those who commented, but I'll do my best to reply now, especially those with questions.

Again thanks for reading. :) Really do appreciate it!
Orochimarusgurl Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Very very true. Thank you for such an wonderful article! This is something all cos/crossplayers should be required to read. Cause I know some of them are like "I didn't do it! I'm invincible....blah blah blah...." or "Why are they doing this horrible thing/act to me...I'm not doing anything wrong!..." *stomps off mad, and pissed off* ......

All I can tell those people is "Yea right whatever." I crossplay, alot...but I also know that I'm going to be double steroytped and such, for the very reasons you have so kindly written here. Again thank you very much.
eva-guy01 Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
You are welcome. :) Im glad you guys can relate to the article, as such things also happen from where I come from.
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