subCulture - Special Edition

by Zac Bertschy, Jun 15th 2001
So, Brian Mah managed to anger a lot of you with his opinion on Cosplaying and Crossplaying. Cosplay is something that I personally feel is an ultimate expression of what it means to be a fan, so I felt it necessary to revive SubCULTURE to comment on Brian's column. Here goes.

Cosplaying, at its very root, is all about expressing love. It's a positive thing. People dress up like characters they love because they're trying to express how much they really care about something. In order to fully understand it, you have to throw away a LOT of societal conventions. Most people think that dressing up like a fictional character when it isn't Halloween is “freaky” or “crazy”. That opinion sickens me. We live in a world where nearly anything is possible and doors into new ways of thinking are being opened every day. If we can't embrace something as simple as an expression of love for a fictional character, what's wrong with us as a society? What exactly is so bizarre about someone putting on a costume?

Personally, I feel that Cosplayers, at least the ones who Cosplay for the sheer joy of it, are “true” anime fans. They're willing to stick their necks out there and maybe look a little ridiculous to prove something; they love anime, dammit, and they don't care what anyone thinks. That fat guy in the Sailor Moon costume doesn't care what you think of him. You have to respect that. Here's a guy who's willing to throw nearly every societal convention out the window just to prove something; he loves Sailor Moon. Yeah, so it isn't pleasant to look at. So what? Nobody's forcing you to stare at this guy. He knows you're laughing at him; and he doesn't care. Regardless of how silly I think he looks, I still have respect for the man. He's doing what he loves best and to hell with anyone who thinks he should stop. Regular cosplayers should get the same respect. I don't care how good that 100-pound redhead looks in that Asuka costume, she isn't any better than the 200-pound Lina Inverse. I'm sure Lina put just as much work into her costume. Cosplay isn't about looking exactly like anime characters. We all know anime characters are purely fantasy and it's nigh impossible to look just like any anime character. Sure, you may get close, but there are no perfect dopplegangers, regardless of how much you want to overreact to a moderate likeness.

There are Cosplayers out there who spend all their time trying to show up everyone at anime conventions. Their costumes have to be “the best” and they have to be “better” than everyone else. Lemme tell you; those should be the official WRONG REASONS for Cosplaying. That kind of thinking is conceited, cruel and totally unwarranted. I see it every year; some girl with a pretty face and a decent body dresses up like Sailor Jupiter and every fanboy in the place goes nuts and worships the ground she walks on. She walks away with all the awards and everyone talks about how wonderful she is. Yeah, so the costume looks nice. Yeah, so she looks a bit like Sailor Jupiter. So what? Why worship this person? Why are they “better” than the short kid with acne who poured his heart into his Vash costume? I have news for you; they aren't, nor should they be treated as “better”. Granted, there's something to be said for craftsmanship. A poorly done costume is a poorly done costume; I'm not saying that every cosplayer is the world's best anime fan and they ALL deserve an outpouring of respect and love. However, simply because someone sorta resembles a cartoon character is no reason to worship the ground they walk on; give them kudos, and move on. And make sure you give the same kudos to the overweight girl wearing the same costume; it takes a lot more guts and resolve to do what she did than what the attractive girl did.

Cosplaying is basically the epitome of anime fandom in many respects. It's all about love. It's all positive. It's all about showing the world how much you care about something. Every anime fan should have a healthy respect for cosplayers, whether they look the part or not. Cut them a little slack, give them the praise they deserve, and then continue on with your life. In the end, nobody really cares what you think; and that's the beauty of it all. You won't catch me wearing a costume at AnimeExpo this year, but you will find me shaking the hand of the guy in his cardboard Gundam outfit. He rules.

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