Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cosplaying in Public

Seeing as this week is Spirit Week at my school, this gives me the necessity to rock it and go all out. Today happened to be Superhero/Supervillain Wednesday. So of course, I went as Joker. (No particular incarnation, seeing as this was closet Cosplay… mostly. The outfit itself was, but I have a wig specifically for Joker and one of my original characters, it looks like something a teenage rebel Joker would have, then the makeup is a full coverage whiteface like Jack Nicholson, with eyespots and lipstick like Heath. Confusing, right?)

Which brought me to a sort of thought, I’ve Cosplayed in public before, actually I do it quite a bit. Likewise, I have friends who do it too, our favorite meeting places being at malls and such. Some people absolutely love it, and others hate us for it, so where is the happy medium?

Well, this is why I’m here, I’m going to try and give you a happy medium, here are just some rules to go by when you’re out Cosplaying in public.

Know your venue. Some malls appreciate your patronage, and some just won’t want anything to do with you. Oftentimes, it’s good to find out from other Cosplayers which malls are “Costume-friendly”. This will save your life. Seriously.

Likewise, know the limits, most malls have some form of dress code, so make sure you’re not breaking it! (A personal experience from my na├»ve days is getting kicked out of a mall because I didn’t know dull face makeup wasn’t allowed. Oh the days. Contrary, another mall is totally fine with the Joker makeup, and actually think we’re being VERY cool.)

Manners, manners, manners. People hate when I harp on this, because while yes, you should be able to act how you want, when you don a Cosplay (and to some extent any extreme fashion that people may dub as Cosplay), you are playing ambassador to the rest of us. I don’t care if you are an annoying teenybopper, don’t act like one. Otherwise the rest of us get dubbed as annoying teenyboppers, and then no one takes us seriously, and then we get kicked out of malls. Heck, don’t let it get so bad like it is in Japan, where you’re only allowed to Cosplay in various venues, and the entire subculture has a baaad stigma attached to it. That means don’t be overly loud, don’t try to scare people, and just… be a generally nice person. Is that so much to ask?

That being said, don’t intentionally try to scare little kids. Some kids are going to be scared around us, and some are going to want to run up to you and hug you because you look like you stepped out of their TV. To quote the Lady of the Manners from Gothic Charm School: “Just disengage their sticky little hands”, smile, and try to be polite. Even if you don’t like kids. I happen to really not like kids, and I’ll still smile and say “thank you” if a little girl tells me I look like a princess. (Keep in mind, sometimes getting in character with slightly older children isn’t too bad. When I Cosplay Joker, there’s this one kid who actually said “Why so serious?” to me, and he and I made a game of saying it back and forth, really cute~)

Save the really elabourate costumes for Conventions and Photoshoots and such. Things get damaged quite easily, and you worked hard on that gown, didn’t you?

Likewise, be careful about full face makeup and masks. As I said above, some venues are alright with it, and some aren’t, in general, it’s probably a good idea to avoid unless you really know what you’re doing. (For some reason, people seem to think that because you’re in bright colours and clown makeup, that you’re going to try and shoplift. I think the point of shoplifting is to be inconspicuous, but people will have their opinions either way.)

A general guide: Don’t Cosplay alone. Some people can get away with it, but when you’re flying solo, you open yourself up for a lot more mockery and potential harassment. I’ve found that traveling in a group of two or three tends to keep trouble at bay. (No. Seriously. I’ve had bits of harassment before, which is why I always keep my boyfriend close at hand when we’re out Cosplaying. No one goes solo, especially not me.)

Overall, have fun with it. Cosplay is supposed to be fun, just keep some things in mind so you’re not alienating others, because then they’ll alienate you, and then nobody’s having fun.

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