Faux Fame: The Ultimate Drug?
The question often arises. This dude decked out in his Dockers shorts and flip flops will look at me, cock his head quizzically to the side, and wonder aloud.
“Why the hell would a grown man want to walk around dressed like a zombie?”
The quick answer is easy. “Brains!” I groan back. He, of course, walks away un-amused and confident that his choice of Ed Hardy that morning makes him the superior male in our little interaction. Such is the life of a cosplayer. So many people just don’t get it. So why DO we do it?
I’d like to think that my motivation when I put on a costume is 100% out of charity. I put in long hours, design custom props and accessories, and even go through incredible physical pain just to make my character as real as possible. The conventioneers often love what I’ve done. They’ll stop me for pictures, give me hugs, and shout compliments from across the room. I’ve been told things along the lines of “Now that I met you I can go home happy” and “This is what I love about these cons.” Great compliments to be sure, and of course I feel good for having brightened their day, but is that why I do it?
At least, not entirely.
I think I do it because I want to be loved. Not just loved. ADORED!!!! When I walk into a room dressed as Barf (SpaceBalls) or Dr. Zoidberg (Futurama) I am shown the love that those characters have earned over their years in popular culture. It’s like the best drug ever. Guys who would never thought twice about me before want to be my friend, girls that wouldn’t give the time of day are now hugging and kissing me. And everyone wants a picture. I am suddenly awesome. And then I take off the costume.
Walking around as my self again is sobering. The cameras have stopped, the girls no longer scream in joy, and I’m just me again. I always hate that moment. But at Dragon*Con this year I really hated it.
That being said, I wonder how many other cosplayers out there feel this way. Is cosplay about performing for others or is it the great escape we were always looking for? And is it normal to crave the escape so much?
A great man once said “We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t.”
I beg to differ, Mr. Durden. I say with a little makeup and a sewing pattern you can be anything you want. The real trick that we have to struggle with is staying that way.