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Good Essay/Presentation on Cosplay

I strongly recommend reading: “Oh, You Sexy Geek!”: “Geek Girls” and the Problem of Self-Objectification by Courtney Stoker (found via [community profile] metanews)

I'm particularly taken with Olivia Waite's interpretation of Leia's "I will strangle you for making me wear this" slave costume.

Rambling thoughts in response to the essay... or just my own vague thoughts about cosplay.

I've always had ambivalence about cosplay: I rejected Barbie as a child, because I recognized the poisonous apple, and when I encountered cosplay, I thought (a) "Ugh, dress-up ... I hate clothes" and (b) "self-Barbiezation, double ugh."

I gradually overcame that because I learned that good cosplay is an art that takes great craftsmanship, it's fun, and it's creative. Also, I have a totemic relationship with fictional characters: I enjoy and feel satisfied when I see excellent representations of them, in the way that traditional cultures like seeing their gods or cultural symbols represented. There's something viscerally appealing about "Oh my gosh, there's Lulu FOR REELZ!" that still hits me when I come across a good cosplay photo, even though I've seen a gazillion good Lulu cosplays.

Which is fine: in that case, I'm just appreciating cosplay as a craft and as an activity. However, because I'm bi, there's also a part of me that responds to fanservice -- usually designed by and for guys, but it often intersects with my own tastes. (My self-chagrin being represented by userpic above.) In my case it's non-heteronormative, but still, I like looking at Teh Sexy. So I'm buying into and perpetuating fanservice by favoring female cosplayers with The Sexy bodytype, except that I have a slightly broader definition of that bodytype than some

Also, if a character is too visibly objectified and stripped of strength/intelligence/personality, I recognize the poisonous apple and recoil from what is my personal Uncanny Valley: a recognizable female character sapped of her soul for titillation purposes. Hentai does this in spades. Sometimes cosplay does it, mostly by body language and gestures that telegraph meanings which don't seem to me to fit the characters at all.

So anyway. Good essay, and that's my rambling response.

This entry was originally posted at http://auronlu.dreamwidth.org/220191.html, where it has comment count unavailablecomments.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 28th, 2013 11:04 pm (UTC)
Honestly, cosplay makes me go... meh.
Sometimes cosplay also breaks stereotypes, in that women who are already TEH SEXY are dressing up as TEH SEXY fictional characters. If you believe all that jazz about all geeks being pimply, unattractive, socially awkward, etc. then hot women in cosplay breaks that mold. But it's problematic at the same time, because it's also objectifying women and strengthening the idea that our self-worth is based on appearance over everything else.

Then we get this attitude like, "Oh, she plays video games. WELL SHE BETTER BE HOT AND THEN WE'LL MAKE A BIG DEAL ABOUT IT!" I'm thinking of Felicia Day here, because she probably would've never received the amount of popularity as she currently enjoys had she not been as pretty. I'm thinking also of X-Play's Morgan Webb here, because her liking Phantasy Star was DEFINITELY not what made me (and others) a fan (hint: titties).

And cosplay is definitely an art. But you're right, there's definitely more of a reaction to someone dressing up as Rikku from FFX-2 than someone donning the mostly full-coverage of an Aerith costume. I will probably never cosplay, because I've seen enough youtube videos of d-bags making fun of slim, small-chested girls dressing up as Lulu or Powergirl to scare me far, far away from objectifying myself to people who probably wouldn't appreciate it anyway. Even if the designing/constructing part seems fun.

Just my 2 cents.
Jan. 28th, 2013 11:10 pm (UTC)
Also, this:
"Do some “fake fangirls” blend sex appeal with nerdiness just to appeal to the growing geek/nerd market, or is that question itself unfair?"

This is a good question, as I recently got into a heated discussion with a male nerd friend of mine about the internet porn star going by "April O'Neal." Apparently a lot of ppl are up in arms about how she's not actually a geek and is simply trying to milk the nerd market and therefore is a poser.

I mean, the fact that we're even putting the term "poser" and "nerd" in the same sentence makes me uncomfortable. But there is definitely a movement lately trying to make nerds into something hip and cool. Or maybe it's just me being in a hipster college town? Who knows...

And now I'm going off-topic.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
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