Week Nine: Cosplay

What different kinds of cosplay type (that is, by genre or genera, rather than just specific sources) does Mountfort (2019) identify in the Armageddon photo-essay?

Cosplay is defined as a performance medium that “conscripts and subverts existing media materials, both inherently and in some very particular ways, such as mashups and other forms of parody” (Mountfort, Peirson-Smith & Geczy, 2019, p. 47). This definition represents the complexities and layers of cosplay better  than simplifying the term to a combination of the words “costume” and “play” (Winge, 2006 as cited in Winge, 2018). In the Armageddon photo-essay (Mountfort et al., 2019) various cosplay types are identified  that help develop the meaning and understanding of cosplay. Five of these will be identified and discussed below.

Cosplay as a traditional character

This is the most recognisable type of cosplay as cosplayers try to replicate a source media’s character as accurately as possible. Cosplayers are judged on not only how closely they look like the character they are portraying but also on how well perform or act as that character. This cosplay type is more common when referencing long-running movie or anime series where characters maintain the same look across multiple movies or seasons (Mountfort et al., 2019). Example: Naruto, the titular character from the anime Naruto (2002-2007) and Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Carribean series (2003-).

Example: Naruto, the titular character from the anime Naruto (2002) and Jack Sparrow, main character from the Pirates of the Carribean series (2003-).

Naruto cosplay at Armageddon Expo, 2013
Jack Sparrow cosplay at Armageddon Expo, 2016

Cosplay as a specific iteration

This cosplay type draws inspiration from a specific version or iteration of a character. This is most common after a movie or other media release, where the most recent iteration of a character will experience heightened visibility and popularity because it is new (Mountfort et al., 2019). Source material is always up for interpretation, particularly in large franchises with long histories such as Marvel and DC. Therefore, rather than having only one standard character version, various iterations allow cosplayers to choose one that resonates more with them and their preferences. Example: Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight (2008).

Health Ledger as the Joker,
from The Dark Knight (2008)
Heath Ledger’s Joker, Armageddon, 2012


Cosplay as a crossover or mashup

Crossover cosplay involves adapting a character of a different gender to your own, while mashups combine different characters and/or universes to create new ones. According to Mountfort et al., (2019) this cosplay type is “more common at larger cons with more established player communities who have the confidence to push cosplaying boundaries.” (p. 95). This is because recognisability is a big part of cosplaying. However, this type of cosplay permits users to incorporate their own creativity while still paying homage to the source media. Example: San crossover, from Princess Mononoke (1997).

Crossover cosplay of San from Princess Mononoke, Armgeddon 2016
San from Princess Mononoke

Cosplay as a generic type or style

Some cosplayers choose to use a generic character type or fashion style rather than an already defined character. Common Western character types include vampires, zombies and other genera of the undead, while styles can include Lolita or steampunk fashion. Mountfort et al., 2019, p. 95). This type of cosplay is also characterised as a lifestyle rather than just fashion as it is just as concerned about creating an authentic persona as well as looking the part. Examples: 

Steampunk Cosplayer (right), Armageddon 2013

Cosplay as a meme

Memes are now commonly identified as forms of viral media circulated throughout the internet (Stegner, 2018). However, it is not as common as some of the other forms of cosplay as it is still “hard to identify for those not in on the joke” and as a result do not tend to last long in the cosplay sphere (Mountfort et al., 2019, p. 106). Cosplaying as a meme relies heavily on the recency and virality of the meme to be effective in terms of recognisability and even humour. However, the simplicity of memes often make them cost-efficient to make or buy, allowing them to retain some popularity and impact in the cosplay world. Example: “Horse head” masks.

“Horse mask” meme, Armageddon, 2014

References:

Date, H. (Director). (2002-2007). Naruto [Television series]. Tokyo, Japan: TV Tokyo.

Marshall, R. (Director). (2011). Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides [Motion picture]. Burbank: Walt Disney Studios.

Miyazaki, H. (Director). (1997). Princess Mononoke [Motion picture]. Japan: Studio Ghibli.

Mountfort, P., Peirson-Smith, A., & Geczy, A. (2018). Planet Cosplay: Costume Play, Identity and Global Fandom. Intellect Books.

Mountfort, P., Peirson-Smith, A. & Geczy, A. (2019). Cosplay at Armageddon Expo. Retrieved from: https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz/bbcswebdav/pid-4925188-dt-content-rid-10439194_4/institution/Papers/ENGL602/Publish/Mountfort%202019_Cosplay%20at%20Armageddon%20Expo.pdf

Nolan, C. (Director). (2008). The Dark Knight [Motion picture]. New York: Warner Brothers.

Stegner, B. (2019). What is a Meme? 10 Meme Examples. Retrieved from https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/what-is-a-meme-examples/

Verbinski, G. (Director). (2003). Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl [Motion picture]. Burbank: Walt Disney Studios.

Verbinski, G. (Director). (2006). Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest [Motion picture]. Burbank: Walt Disney Studios.

Verbinski, G. (Director). (2007). Pirates of the Caribbean: At the World’s End [Motion picture]. Burnbank: Walt Disney Studios.Winge, T. (2018).Costuming Cosplay: Dressing the Imagination[DX Reader Version]. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/aut/reader.action?docID=5557324

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