As I announced in last week’s article, I recently had my convention cherry popped. Along with experiencing my first ever comic convention I also happened to experience my first hands-on experience with Cosplay. I heard of Cosplay and was aware of it before, but seeing it first-hand and then trying to explain such an act of nerdom to friends and co-workers, I realized I sound crazy and am not doing enough justice to Cosplayers with my explanation.
Thus, in true Drunken Nerd fashion I’m here downing a Rouge Amber Ale and doing my best to explain why Cosplay is important to us nerds.
For starters, Cosplay is the simple act of Costume Playing, originally started by Anime fans and their admiration for their favorite characters. However, like many good things, it’s been duplicated and improved upon and well loved by thousands of fans across the globe. To non-nerds it sounds odd, it sounds downright weird, but to us it is a way of expression. To a nerd Cosplay is as ordinary as putting on a NFL jersey for a football fan – it’s that simple.
Instead of wearing a favorite player’s jersey and idolizing them, a comic, sci-fi, or anime fan will simply dress up as their favorite character; it’s by all means the exact same thing minus a few extra layers of clothing and accessories.
Dressing up as a favorite character shows loyalty, creativity, and self expression. Cosplay is an important part of the nerd community because it creates a new realm of self-expression. Geeks are well known for being… well, slightly introverted and anti-social. None of us can deny it; we tend to live in our own universe – however it is no different than a sports fan whose entire life revolves around a five-month season – where game-day only comes once a year. Our difference is our game-day comes a few times a year, but only one-day a year within a ‘drivable distance.’ Thus, the Cosplayers will come out of the wood-work to express themselves just like any sports fan will show up on game day to show their support for their beloved team.
The only reason it seems weird to an outsider is because the outfits look like Halloween costumes – and anyone who dresses up outside of Halloween is well, a little strange. I differ because it’s the only way for comic fans to truly show their loyalty to their favorite characters. Conventions are the nerd’s game-day. And Cosplay is our jersey. A sports jersey is simple and easy to wear. It is a number, design, and a name normally designed in an appealing facet. All a Tom Brady fan or Michael Jordan fan has to do is wear a #12 or #23 jersey (or anything Patriots/Bulls for that matter) and their allegiance is known. However, a Spider-Man fan’s way of expression is not always so simple. Dressing up in blue and red spandex may seem like a reach, but in reality it is as elementary as putting on a Chicago Bulls sweatshirt.
I will also admit as a male, the Cosplaying females create a new side of nerdom, which unless you’re involved in the fanfare you’d never realize existed. There are tons, tons of attractive women who sensationally execute their favorite (and mine) characters and in doing so showcase the rising amount of sexuality among the nerd sub-culture. I utilize this knowledge of attractive Cosplaying females as a staple in my argument for my Cosplay hating friends. I’ll say, “if all nerds are weirdos then what is she *show picture* doing?” It’s with that action that my non-geek friends realize that there’s more to the nerd community than meets the eye.
Cosplay is as routine to the nerd community as anything else in a sector of fandom. Gather a bunch of singers and their love for creating a-Capella freestyle may seem strange. Gather a bunch of poets and their love for reading aloud may seem odd. Gather a bunch of swingers and their love for well, you catch my drift here. Each group of fans/admirers/devotees express themselves with an undying passion and with that undying passion comes a sense of freedom and liberation, which is bar-none a beautiful thing.
It is with that sense of freedom and liberation, that no one should judge nerds for dressing up on days that are not October 31st because no one judges sports fans for covering themselves in body paint nor a group of musicians breaking out in song in the middle of the park. Each culture of fans has their own way of expressing themselves and each piece of fandom should hold a respect for one another. After all, we’re all the same – even if we nerds have hotter female fans than Sunday worshipping football fans.
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