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.