It’s a crazy week around here, getting ready for the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, but I just wanted to have a quick word about cosplay before the week is up.
For those not in the know, cosplay (short for costume play) is the growing phenomenon of people dressing up in costumes, often for expos and conventions, and often costumes of characters from movies, TV shows, video games, and comic books. It’s becoming quite large, especially around the convention scene, with thousands of people showing up in elaborate costumes to showcase their creative talents.
Now, cosplay can have a tarnished reputation because of the plethora of scantily clad women (and men) in comics and video games resulting in a equal number of scantily clad people in cosplay. There is a much longer blog post on the morality and ethics of modesty in cosplay, but for today I want to offer another thought.
Cosplayers sometimes dress up as their heroes because they want to inhabit the lives of these people. They want to pretend, even for a short while, that they are the superheroes and adventurers and ne’er-do-wells that they look up to. And I think this is fantastic.
Empathy seems to be (at least in my world) to be in the decline. We are quick to make others into villains and ourselves into heroes. We don’t listen to others and we argue only to win our point. We have lost the ability to empathize with others, to think about what it must be like to be them.
Cosplay, and acting in general, forces us to think about what someone else’s life must be like. The best actors are those who have sat in the life of someone else without judgement and tried to understand why they do what they do. This is especially true of villains, who rarely believe what they are doing is evil. We all believe we are justified in our actions, even if we know the actions to be reprehensible. Yet, we are usually quick to judge others by their actions and not their motives.
If we can live like this in our daily lives, if we can spend more time trying to understand others and why they are doing or saying what they do or say, then perhaps we can start moving towards more peace in the world. Our relationships would be stronger if we were to believe the best of our partners and admit that they probably have justifications for what they do.
When we live in someone else’s shoes for a while, they stop becoming a “them” and start becoming a real person, just like us.
And if dressing up like Spiderman or Princess Leia helps us get in that mindset, I’m all for it.