Cosplay Observation: What Gives Cosplay a Bad Name

Last night, I came across a post in my news feeds where my friends have been commenting. The post is about the cosplay network in our country. A few years ago, Alodia Gosiengfiao, one of the well-known cosplayers in the Philippines was featured by the mainstream media (where I remember KC Concepcion praised her for becoming mainstream since cosplay—according to her—is an underground activity *rolls eyes*). Myrtle, who is actually from my “hometown” is another cosplayer featured by the mainstream media through local franchise of the “reality” TV show Big Brother. Sadly, they are the only cosplayers known to most Filipinos (those who are non-cosplayers, that is), and cosplay has been so widely associated with them to the point that they are acknowledge as the ones who started the cosplay community in the Philippines, but I digress. However, this blog is not about them, it’s about what has become of cosplay here in the Philippines and who I blame for this.

Although I have been inactive due to the demands of my profession, cosplay is still a burning passion in my heart, and I believe, cosplay should start as such—a burning, all-encompassing, overwhelming passion (yes, I am over-emphasizing it with the use of highfalutin words). However, from what I have observed, there have been a lot of cosplayers who cosplay because they have the passion for the arts, but because they are merely fans of Alodia and Myrtle. Some new cosplayers do not even know who their characters are. For them, the simple wearing of costumes, wigs, contact lenses, and the wielding of the props is enough to be called cosplay. And who do I blame for this? The mainstream media.

It is nice that the media was able to raise copslay awareness in the country, but the result was not what we cosplayers expected. People have been cosplaying to become more like Alodia and Myrtle, and I guess those who have been cosplaying even before Alodia and Myrtle were made known to the public are also annoyed with this fact. Their passion for cosplay do not stem from the arts, which gave birth to cosplay (I am referring to anime, manga, manhwas, comic books, games, movies, etc.), but from their fascination for Alodia and Myrtle, and I think that this kind of passion is a little off in this case. Joining their fans club sounds better than cosplaying if that is the case. (I think I’m just blabbering here.)

Cosplay is not just about wearing a costume. It is more than that—something that old-fashioned, traditional, opinionated people cannot understand. Wearing a wig is not cosplay. Wearing contact lenses is not cosplay. Wearing your favorite character’s costume is not cosplay. Wearing makeup is not cosplay. When you cosplay, you do not imitate the character; you become the character.

Simply because you wear a costume does not mean you are a cosplayer. Even burglars and robbers wear costumes (just saying). Cosplay is costume plus characterization. By that, it basically means that there should be a character being portrayed, not just being imitated through their looks. When either of the two is lacking, then, that is not cosplay. Also, cosplayers often interact to create a subculture centered on role play. A broader use of the term cosplay applies to any costumed role play in venues apart from the stage, regardless of the cultural context.

It is disheartening to see people posting their photos wearing certain types of costumes and captioning them “me in cosplay.” There is a great deal of photos of people wearing non-cosplay costumes and passing them up as cosplay in many online social media, and these photos have caused an “uprising” from long-time cosplayers. However, there are also lenient and tolerating cosplayers that simply let these photos and issues slide off their shoulders.

But seriously, it’s photos and perspective about cosplay like these that give cosplay a bad name. Most people who have newly encountered cosplay, especially older ones label cosplayers as weirdoes and insane because of this unbecoming photos online. There are a lot of great cosplays being overwhelmed by the crappy ones (let alone the ones that are not actually cosplay). Most people in the local community do not welcome the cosplay culture, and we cosplayers do not need another reason to be stared at with confused and judgemental eyes by people who do not understand our culture and passion. So I have two request, one for the media and on for the “costume wearers.”

For the media, I simply ask you to filter the photos you post. You have seen many great cosplays and can therefore identify whether or not the ones you allow posted on you social media network as legit cosplays. Please help coslayers raise true cosplay awareness in the country rather than help give cosplay a bad name.

For the “costume wearers,” please, do not say that you are cosplaying when you are not. If you are wearing a costume alone, you are not cosplaying. If you really want to cosplay, then, make sure you do it legitly. If you want to be known as a cosplayer, there are a lot of things you should consider other than the costume; I suggest you get to know your character really well.


The following are photos taken from a social media site of a national TV show. These are photos submitted to be featured in the show’s cosplay segment. These are nothing but people wearing costumes, which, to me, are more festival and pageant appropriate than cosplay.

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13 thoughts on “Cosplay Observation: What Gives Cosplay a Bad Name

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  1. Mainstream media has always been the commanding entity for the lame Filipino masses. Whatever media says, the feeble-minded obeys (e.g. the Gangnam fad, kiyomi, etc) without even thinking if it suits them or if there is at all any purpose in doing so. Unlike the Japanese who starts a trend without even planning on it, the Filipinos just follow everything they see on TV. It’s a wonder we still have some identity left in us. I don’t mean to demean my fellow countrymen. I am just stating an observation.

    1. I would have to agree. People’s minds are easily affected by what the media say, even their problems are most of the times affected. I mean, people get to think that a celebrity’s love life is more important than their being unemployed. -_-

      Thanks for reading and responding to my blog. ^_^

      1. “I don’t mean to demean my fellow countrymen. I am just stating an observation.”

        Your rather insensitive comment is actually VERY demeaning. Now I’m not a fan of cosplay or anime (as both subjects bore me) but this article did catch my attention for some reason. I read it and proceeded to read your comment, Mr. Kahlid, and I think you are extremely arrogant and somewhat of an elitist.

        I find the need to defend “my fellow countrymen” from you, so I ask you this: so what? So what if this was an original Japanese trend? So what if they are copying it?

        They are enthusiastically exploring a trend which they feel very strongly about and are supporting it by spending time and money making their costumes. If anything, for whatever reason they do it (and now I’m addressing both the writer of the article and you Khalid), they are bringing a POSITIVE INTERNATIONAL image of cosplay. If anything, they are doing it an honor not a disgrace.

        You Kahlid (and to some extent you too Kirby), are a complete tool who does not deserve anyone’s love. You insult them for a passion they have that is not even hurting anyone. The fact that they are there attending the event, wearing costumes, says a lot about their dedication REGARDLESS of WHY they actually do it… and you cosplay/anime fans whatever the hell it is you’re called should actually encourage them not bring them down.

        Assuming you have the intellectual capacity to read and understand where I’m coming from… thanks for reading this and have a good day.

        1. Well, that escalated quickly.

          I think you misunderstood what I meant. I am simply saying that “just because they can, does not mean they should.” It applies to almost everything in life. Just like them, I spend money, time, and effort to make my costumes and attend anime conventions elsewhere. And it is also clear that you have no idea what cosplay is. A mere wearing of costume is not cosplay, and not all costumes are for cosplays. Now, if I wear a festival costume just like the ones in the photos, I am not cosplaying; I am just wearing a costume. I am simply asking people who tell the world that they are cosplaying that they should actually be cosplaying when they do tell the world.

          There is nothing wrong with copying the Japanese trend of cosplaying, in fact, I am one of the pioneers of cosplay within our local community, and I encourage people to continue what they love. I share my passion and knowledge about costume designs to those who are willing to learn and are not aware of what it is. I am not limiting nor restricting people to do their cosplays, I am simply telling them to do their cosplays the way it should be done: costume plus character, not just a random costume alone.

          Between the two of us, you are the arrogant one and the one without the intellectual capacity to read and understand where I’m coming from. You have no idea, if anything at all, about cosplay and how it should be done. It takes attention to detail and accuracy. Now, just because I want to give cosplay a good name by asking “cosplayers” to project it in a way that non-otakus like you will not find the topic some sort of a weirdo does not mean I am an elitist. Believe me, several other high-end cosplayers have said worse things than what I have written.

          1. You know, I’d actually be inclined to believe all you just said had you changed some of your words and the title of your article.

            “What gives closplay a bad name” <– Hey look that's your title and you are, in effect, attaching "what gives cosplay a bad name to people who in your eyes are doing it wrong. You are stating exactly that people should BE their characters and are not cosplay-ers despite their efforts of trying to be one. You even said in your 4th paragraph, "even wearing their fav. character's costumes is not cosplay" if they do not fully embody their characters (which is fucking impossible in my opinion as no one can "be" something that is fantastical).

            Can you actually walk up to their faces and tell them straight up, "Hey, what you're doing is not cosplay. Despite that elaborate costume you are wearing you are not doing it correctly. You are a product of mainstream media get the hell out."

            That's essentially what you're saying in this article.

            You even said "…and these photos have caused an “uprising” from long-time cosplayers". You are a long time cosplayer too right? The way I see it you feel the same way. So yeah, you are an elitist.

            Th reason why I posted such an "attacking" response is because, even though I do not care about cosplay or anime, I look at the pictures of those you posted were "doing it wrong" and they seem VERY happy about what they are doing. If you really cared about cosplay who cares what the media shows?

            Why can't you be more on their side on this article? These people or the "lame masses" as that cockpocket Kahlid so tactlessly stated above probably do not have the funds to produce such elaborate costumes. They make do with what they have, WHY DON'T YOU ENCOURAGE THEM?

            You're putting them down and even calling them crappy because they simply wanna dress up, can't do it as elaborately as you do, and have different values from you. So who's the arrogant one here? Is it me? I don't think so.

            If people do exist who call you and others weirdos for what they love to do then why should you even bother about them? Why should you even give a flying fuck what they think?!

            Ignore the flamers and support the cosplayers, ESPECIALLY the new ones who in your mind have no idea what true cosplay is. If you care about them you'll find a way to help them improve their appearance and character.

            This entire article screams elitist to me. No one is giving anyone a bad name. If some people say you are weirdos it's not because of the masses that you appear to want to exclude (hey you said it yourself for the media sites), "don't use them in your photos") it is because they are just like that. They have nothing better to do than to criticize

            1. And yes, there we have it: a conclusive proof that you do not have the intellectual capacity to read and understand where I am coming from. Perhaps it best for you to save your bashing comments elsewhere. I have no more words for you as you do not understand what I am trying to say. And if you really believe that no one is giving cosplay a bad name, you are mistaken. That’s all. However, I want to thank you for reading my blog, let alone reacting to it. God bless! And may you find the right people who’d agree with you, since i have found mine, and they are actually more than plenty. 😛

              1. Conclusive proof? State how I am lacking in the intellectual capacity to understand you. I’m looking for solid, convincing proof that I am indeed wrong and YOU are right.

                Instead of admitting that I have points you just keep repeating that I am not smart enough to understand you. I read between the lines, I saw what you were truly saying, and upon exposing what I saw you felt embarrassed that I do have points and that your article is rather insensitive.

                I’m not bashing. If I were bashing, I’d call you stupid and leave it at that. I am not bashing, I am stating my opinion of you and your friend up there.

                Fact is, you are putting these people down. That’s my point. You say you blame mainstream media… Yet I see this statement “For the media, I simply ask you to filter the photos you post.” which means you want to ultimately exclude these new comers because they do not share the same values as you and have the same finances as you to make such elaborate costumes. After all, according to you, all they can come up with are wigs, make up, and contact lenses.

                I understand you more than you think you’re putting out there. I can see the meaning under the words you say. Maybe you want to dismiss my points right away because YOU don’t understand me or you actually do but do not want to admit my point.

                If you have no more words for me, fine. I’ve said my piece. And God bless yourself. I’m not scared of stating my opinions without looking to anyone’s backing

                1. Jeez, Enzo. I had no idea my comment was gonna get you all worked up.
                  First, let me define to you what “mass” means.
                  According to Merriam-Webster, a mass is “a large body of persons in a group”. So, logically, I am NOT referring to the entire Filipino community.
                  And, by adding the adjective lame (which is a slang for “not being in the know”, source still Merriam-Webster), I further reduce the number of people to an even smaller subgroup within the group “masses”.
                  So, yeah, those who are “cosplaying” from this particular group of people (let’s call them LFMs for kicks), IMHO, give cosplaying a bad name because they are merely copying something they see on TV.
                  For an Art to remain pure and unique, disciples must embody some sense of discipline and passion. And no, strapping up in some random costume is not out of passion because passion requires a deeper study and understanding of the subject matter. Kirby has tried several times to explain what that means to you so I’ll grant you credits by not repeating it.
                  By the way, the reason I don’t like LFMs is because majority of these faddish people grow up to become actor-and/or-athlete-voting citizens of our beautiful country. I’m guessing you rooted for Jaworski or the Revillas, too, based on your great love and support for LFMs.

                  And, lastly, if i were an elitist, what’s it to you?
                  I see that you are such a lovable advocate of freedom and self-expression so I don’t understand why you’ll have a problem with what I am.

                  “You Kahlid (and to some extent you too Kirby), are a complete tool who does not deserve anyone’s love.”
                  Too bad for us, I guess. I’m sure you have all the LFM loving you could ever want. Congrats, Enzo. 🙂

                  1. So, the masses you are referring to is DIFFERENT from what you call “fellow countrymen”? I find that hard to believe. Don’t play with meanings, you. I know what you were trying to say, you can’t get out of it. Masses means a large group, the majority. Those are the masses. You were definitley not referring to a small group.

                    The definition of lame (and i hardly believe that is what you meant) ALSO means “inferior”. I saw it underneath Merriam Webster as well! You just so conveniently chose the more “tactful” definition of the word lame. Use context clues man. Based on what I read on your comment above, I’m pretty sure that definition #3 of the word ‘lame’ is NOT what you meant since you also used “feeble-minded”, remember? I am confident you think them inferior to you.

                    In a way you’re trying to escape what you really meant.

                    “give cosplaying a bad name because they are merely copying something they see on TV” <– And don't you cosplayers also copy what you see on TV? YOU ACTUALLY DO! Who are you kidding? You embody and you copy the anime that JUST SO HAPPENS TO COME OUT OF TV.

                    "I don’t like LFMs is because majority of these faddish people grow up to become actor-and/or-athlete-voting citizens of our beautiful country." <– and what the HELL does that even have to do with anything? And you shouldn't dislike them because without them, whether or not you like how they vote, they keep this country running. And by actually admitting you dislike them proves you are a jerk.

                    "I see that you are such a lovable advocate of freedom and self-expression so I don’t understand why you’ll have a problem with what I am." Freedom of expression cuts both ways. You can call the masses lame, I can express my opinion of you using stuff you actually said.

                    "Too bad for us, I guess. I’m sure you have all the LFM loving you could ever want." If that were true then I'd be proud of myself. You and kirby and I are some of the more fortunate ones financially. But we don't keep this country running THEY do. It is THEIR labor. So yeah they deserve some respect.

  2. I’m having a hard time reading the comments up to the end. They get narrow and narrower as I scroll down (referring to how the words are being displayed on screen). —-_—- I enjoy reading them. I can see both points of argument. Everyone has his or her opinions about it. Everyone differs in perspective.

  3. Thanks on your marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading it, you can be a great author.I will always bookmark your weblog and may come back within the future. I want to encourage that you continue your great writing, have a nice morning!

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