Is cosplay an absurd escapism or creative self-expression?

Is cosplay a cool hobby to hone creative self-expression or a nerdy and expensive way to escape the pressures of the world? And do you care either way?

CosPlay 101 for the uninformed and uninformed

What the heck is CosPlay? Sound like a new online video game or a new Facebook app like Farmville? Well, no. CosPlay is a combination of two words: “Suit” and “Role Play”. Therefore, a cosplayer is a geek, not necessarily handsome, someone who takes on the role of a character from an anime show, video game, comic book, manga, comic book series, movie, or TV series. These cosplayers put themselves in the shoes of the characters that have inspired them or that they think is really cool and copy their super cool costumes, prosthetics, makeup, hair and accessories. This is what really surprised me, cosplayers don’t just have to look like characters, they have to act, sound and essentially be the characters they play until the last laugh.

There is this problem among cosplay elders about how and when this social phenomenon actually began. However, they seem to agree on one thing: the origin of the word Cosplay. Most seniors agree that journalist Noboyuki Takahashi first coined the term in the article “My anime”, after attending the 1984 World Science Fiction Convention and seeing a group of Trekkies. from Star Trek) strutting. From there, cosplay has become a subculture among fans of anime, manga, comics, movies, and basically everything fun and fictional under the sun and elevated to an art form and subculture in various countries. In the Philippines, the popularity of cosplay has also exploded in recent years.

Cosplay and the modern escapist

“I have stated that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy tales, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is evident that I do not accept the tone of contempt or pity with which ‘Escape’ is now so often used. Why should a man be despised if, finding himself in jail, he tries to leave and return home? Or if he cannot do so, does he think and talk about other subjects than the jailers and the prison walls? ”

– JRR Tolkien–

I am not a psychologist or sociologist with letters, but I can tell you roughly about the observations I made that cosplay is now part of modern escapism. Webster defines escapism as the habitual deviation of the mind towards a purely imaginative activity or entertainment such as an escape from reality or routine.

I’m sure you will agree that the world we live in is full of stress, threats, constant noise, irritating soap operas, unhealthy junk food, fast-paced billboards, and overnight Facebook. We all need to escape, to refocus our attention on pleasant or pleasant things, as opposed to the harsh realities of the everyday world. When we are stressed, we want nothing more than escapism, and cosplay certainly offers that for others.

It’s nice to add a bit of fantasy to an otherwise boring or stressful world. However, translating someone’s fantasy into reality can be tricky. I don’t know if parents should really care about their teenagers’ strong desire to live in the fantasy world of anime, maybe they should consider that healthy and part of today’s social reality. And that the desire to ‘escape’ is part of the complicated process of discovering ourselves. I think we are all escapists in different ways.

This is where I got into the greatest difficulty in judgment. I failed to understand how important the notion of escape is to many cosplayers and clarify the exact type of escape I was referring to. I admit that many Filipinos today participate in cosplay not primarily to avoid their own personal wars, such as their jobs, relationships, school pressure, and other life problems, but to have fun, compete, and even earn a living.

The magical world of the escapist

“Harry is going to this wizarding world, and is it better than the world he has left? Just because he meets nicer people. Magic doesn’t significantly improve his world. Relationships make his world better. Magic complicates his life. of many ways . ”

–JK Rowling–

Is there a difference between healthy and unhealthy escapism? In today’s reality, we cannot do the form of escapism of our ancestors, which is telling stories around the fire or writing in the caves. Now we escape the evils of the world by reading books, watching soap operas and movies, surfing the Internet, writing blogs, etc.

Like I said before, cosplay is a new and modern form of escapism. Unlike other forms of escapism, cosplay is much more complicated. Other “characters” are playing directly in their magical world, interacting using their assumed personality. Events, such as conventions and regular meetings, also take place in this new form of escapism that depends directly on the authors of the anime characters.

Fantasy Self and the world of anime

There he causes problems for cosplayers. This is just my theory, okay. The assumed character, which I will call Fantasy Self, begins to rival the real world. Due to the great complexity and magic of the anime world, Fantasy Self can continue to rely on cosplay as its form of escapism. There is a possibility that Fantasy Self treats the anime world as a big part of the person’s real life and may dominate the real world.

When the anime world becomes part of your real world, any stresses from the anime world will be brought with it when you enter the real world. Now, the cosplayer no longer has to worry only about the real world, but also has to worry about the events in the anime world. Such cosplayers are those who come home so stressed and depressed after attending a cosplay convention, when it’s supposed to be just a fun day walking around in costume and someone extraordinary for a day.

The collapse of the fantastic self and the real self

The other possibility that could occur with a prolonged stay in the anime world as a form of escapism is the collapse of the fantasy self into the real self. I repeat, this is just a possibility, I am not a psychologist, but I read psychology books, and it is just my theory. This is the situation where the cosplayer lends money to buy costumes, skip classes, or work to attend cosplay conventions, and if he begins to claim that cosplay is more than just costumes. Actions like these are clear demonstrations of where the cosplayer’s priorities lie.

The problem with this type of collapse is obvious. As their real lives are no longer the focus of their attention, their grades in school will fail, their health will fail, their work performance will fail as will their social lives, often sacrificing time with friends and family for cosplay time.

The cut-off point

I guess the cut-off point is whether it can be a healthy means of not becoming completely depressed by reality and, on the other hand, in its extreme form, if it results in obsessive behaviors that make people completely ignore reality to their detriment. .

After all, I am not the final arbiter of what is considered healthy or unhealthy and, more importantly, I cannot claim that I know everything about cosplay; I’m not a cosplayer myself. I just want to give my comments and learn amazing things about what is happening around me. For people who are more extreme than me, I respect their choice to be that, just as I hope they respect my theories and opinions that I make regarding my observations or what I prefer to keep as quiet hobbies.

I can safely conclude that cosplay can be a healthy form of escapism and a great opportunity to develop creativity and self-confidence. Of course, extremes have negative effects.

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