Ashley Lotecki (2012) argues that cosplay creates a base for identity and culture creation. That is, cosplayers adapt multi-cultural faces, forgetting about cross-cultural strife and rifts. Cosplayers create an identity of their choice that they feel fit to play. In real life, people cannot chose to live the kind of life they want to, but rather, they do so because of the situations they find themselves in. In cosplay, players have the opportunity to become the characters of their choice. A cosplayer can choose to imitate any existing character of an anime, manga or film. Also, the player can decide to play a character of his or her creation, which has not been acted as yet. In doing this, players identify themselves with the culture of their cosplay characters. Interestingly, cosplayers tend to like the culture that they cosplay. If a player decides to cosplay a character of a different culture from his/hers, then the person will get accustomed to the cosplay culture even in real life (Lotecki, 2012). Therefore, the creation role of cosplay strengthens inter-cultural creativity and acceptance.
Cosplayers come from across all cultures, and imitate characters from the same wide spectrum culture, strengthening cultural adaptation and hybridizing. For example, when an Asian cosplays a European character of a TV show, an Asian is likely to accept the European cultures as normal. That is, for an Asian to be able to act as the TV show character, and then he or she must have mastery of the European culture, that influences the character she or he is imitating. Eventually, after cosplaying the culture, the Asian, will appreciate the European culture more, though it is very different from his own. When people develop a general appreciation of various cultures, cultural tension reduces, promoting intercultural interactions (Lotecki, 2012).
Rahman, O. Wing-sun, L. and Cheung, B. (2012) say that cosplay promotes cultures, since the things about those cultures, which could have been ridiculed, become more acceptable. Cosplay is another form of popular culture. People are getting to accept different cultures more easily, as they display it in the cosplay. Initially, people are usually skeptical about other cultures. When people imitate super-heroes in films, dress and behave like them, the surrounding get to appreciate the culture of those super-heroes. Most people who interact with media have high regard for those actors, playing the lead roles. When a fellow classmate or a neighbor picks the outlook and behavior of that lead-role player, people tend to accept and appreciate the culture that the hero represents (Rahman et al., 2012).
Furthermore, the comic nature of cosplay does not give room for cynical and outrageous opposition. Cosplay is unlike the real world. When it is possible and rational to be cynical about the cultures of others in the real world, in the world of cosplay and comics, such things are non-existence. Therefore, cosplay becomes more popular, as it takes diverse cultures on a light note and appreciates the good portrayed in them. Gradually, people develop a fondness for the cultures that they found ridiculous at some point. People do not ridicule cosplayers because of the roles they chose to play. The humorous nature of cosplay allows everyone to assume any identity. People start to learn to see every culture as a part of the global culture. People view different cultures as individual segments of the whole, global culture (Rahman et al., 2012). That way, every element portrayed in the cosplay from whatever culture becomes acceptable.
According to Henrik Bonnichsen (2011), cosplayers create their identities and, at the same time, escape from the real identity problems. There are people with esteem issues, wishing to live in different worlds. For those playing cosplay, they easily escape from the reality and live in their created world. Once a player creates a character, he/she slips into that character’s world at will and back to the real world at will. This form of creativity alleviates the individual in two ways. First, the player can manage the low-self-esteem threat, through escaping to the world of the character. In most cases, the player chooses a character with a renowned role, one that commands respect in the comic, film or anime. The world of the character gives the player the strength to face the current situations from behind the scene. Secondly, through playing roles that command respect, and earning appreciation from the real world, when in the play, the player builds his or her own self-esteem. Cosplay helps the individual to build his or her self-esteem that the person becomes acquitted to the cosplay character and finds the world no longer humiliating or threatening (Bonnichsen, 2011).
Erin Blakemore (2015) reasons that the work involved in cosplay creates a culture for the cosplayers. Their involvement in conventions and another fandom festive has become a unifying culture for the fans. Cosplayers do not just put costumes on, as it happens during Halloween. They invest their time, creativity and dedication in the development of their costumes. To participate in the conventions in Japan or even daily attire in North America, it requires a lot of practice time on the side of participants. Cosplay goes beyond the dress mode. A cosplayer must also imitate the body language, appearance, and pose of its character. To achieve this, cosplayers must be dedicated to the course. Therefore, the participation preparation, as well as lifestyle endeavor, becomes an identifying factor for the members. More so, wearing cosplay becomes a cultural identity (Blakemore, 2015). That is, cosplayers can easily identify each other, while in the costumes.
As a matter of fact, cosplayers require the support of others to thrive in the endeavor, just like other cultures. There is a stigma that comes with cosplay and players must be resilient and enduring to keep up in the art. Subsequently, cosplayers join clubs, such as the Ball State Cardinal Club, for the support of cosplayers. To be a cosplayer, one needs to be constantly creative, coming up with new ideas about their respective characters (Blakemore, 2015). Therefore, such clubs and support groups come in handy.
Differing ideas come from Erin Hanna and Lawrence Brenner (2015) who say that cosplay is conflicting with the economic subculture of comic and animation production. Comic producers and other stakeholders in the comics industry are infuriated by the cosplay community. Hanna and Brenner argue that producers and comic book writers feel that cosplay is not adding any value to the art or the industry at large. The stakeholders in the comic industry feel that cosplayers are benefiting at their expense. When cosplayers design their cosplay, they get offers from different communities and companies, who identify with that culture. The companies and communities deal with cosplayers directly, without involving the comic producers or authors. That way, a lot of money that could be circulating in the comic industry economy go directly to individuals (Hanna, & Brenner, 2015). Nevertheless, this argument points at an importance of interest to this discussion. When companies and communities hire cosplayers for their promotions, it means they identify with culture displayed by individual cosplayers. Company promotions require promoters with whom consumers will identify. When companies hire cosplayers, it means that the target consumer group identifies with the cosplayer. Even though Hanna and Brenner do not make these arguments, the outrage from the producers about money lost to individual cosplayers implies this argument.
Conclusively, from the above readings and arguments, it becomes evident that cosplay impacts target subcultures. The effect of cosplay on individual subcultures may be unfelt, but the studies by different scholars and authors prove there is a positive effect. The ability to pass from real to imaginative identity gives cosplayers the ability to relate well to different cultures. In the world of cosplay, all subcultures are parts of one big global culture. Therefore, cosplayers should understand that cosplay goes beyond fun and identity creation, to cultural identification with the different character cultures. Also, the communities should learn to appreciate and identify with cosplay, representing their culture. Cosplay depicts the wealth of different cultures, in one entire global culture context.
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