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Faux Fame: The Ultimate Drug?

27 September 2010 4 Comments by

ZomBart as Dr. Zoidberg at Dragon*Con 2010

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?

Sadly, No.

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.




  • FlowerBite said:

    I think the other side to it is that, most of the time anyway, if it’s not at a convention where you know people will appreciate it on at least some level, you just end up looking sad or weird. It’s like seeing the people dressed as Darth Vader going to Red Faires. Yes, many of us are geeks and we get that you love Star Wars (and it takes place “a long time ago”) because we do too, but even still it’s out of place.

    I think the people who dress up in Hollywood are the ones who take it to the most extreme, though. The “super heroes” on the walk of fame that stand around in (usually) half-assed costumes and pose for pictures for money. It’s those people who have taken the fame of being in costume too far.

    Being a cosplayer myself, I know what the sudden fame and adoration can be like when someone really loves your costume (no matter what con you’re at). Recently I saw a guy and girl walking around as Marty McFly and his girlfriend Jennifer. He was carrying an old video camera and she had a flyer for “Save the Clocktower Fund”. It was brilliant and wonderful and completely made my day. However, would anyone else get it if they weren’t at a convention? Doubtful.

    I guess what I’m saying is that you shouldn’t feel too sad when the weekend is over. Even if only one person recognized your costume and genuinely told you so, you still made that person’s day. And, you always have the next fan, next convention and the next costume to look forward to.

  • Susan said:

    Great article! I tried explaining it to a non-cosplayer and didn’t do nearly as well.

  • The History Follower said:

    So what you’re saying is cosplayers are people who can’t find fulfillment in their own lives that have to dress up to make other people like them.

  • Susan said:

    Nah, dude, you’re making it sound bad. In my experience it’s the same as getting made up to go clubbing. You get to look awesome and get attention for it, and the next day you can go back to being Clark Kent.