Cosplay is contraction of the words costume and play. It is a performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and accessories to represent a specific character from a Movie, Video Game, TV Show or general pop culture icons.
Being a cosplayer can be very enjoyable and the perfect way to show your love for a character or franchise. However, it’s important that you always Cosplay Responsiblyto ensure your own safety as well as those around you.
Over the year’s Cosplay has really taken off and you can find dozens of cosplayers at even the smallest conventions and events to hundreds, if not thousands, of cosplayers at the larger conventions such as DragonCon, PAX, San Diego Comic Con International, AnimeExpo and New York Comic Con.
Cosplayers range from those wearing a everyday type outfit with a name badge for Shaun of the Dead, Ash from Army of Darkness or Liv Moore from iZombie, to those who wear impressive costumes that they spent thousands of hours painstakingly making themselves or hundreds, to thousands, of dollars buying as a whole or in pieces.
- Part One -
A Time & Place For Cosplay
Most cosplay is safe and non-controversial. However, it is important to consider what others, whom may be unfamiliar with the character, may think when they see you out of context in a public setting. This doesn’t mean you can’t be anything you want. It just means that if you’re going to be in costume between point A and point B you may wish to keep masks, helmets and weapon props in a bag until your at the convention, event or party that you’re cosplaying for.
A perfect example of this is the case where a teenage cosplayer recently caused a high school and community to go into lockdown when they were seen walking into the school, in full costume with a mask on. The scenario was this, a bystander, most likely a concerned parent or grandparent, contacted the police when they witnessed a person dressed in all black with a mask on, wearing what looked like a bulletproof vest, walking into the school carrying a large bag. It may seem silly to those that know the character. However, given the amount of school violence over the years one can understand the level of concern. Unbeknownst to the student at the time, they caused quite the stir outside of the school by being dressed in full cosplay as Darth Vader and carrying his backpack on May 4th.
Not long before that incident another cosplayer was the cause of police receiving numerous calls from citizens concerned that the man was wearing what looked like a bomb on his back with a helmet, gas mask, body armor. Once again, to those unfamiliar with the game it can be a strange and/or scary sight. At least eight officers responded with their guns drawn crouched behind vehicles and bushes. They evacuated the business and made contact with the cosplayer when it was determined that he was wearing a costume and no threat to the public. What had looked like a bomb turned out to be several Pringles potato chips cans that were painted silver. The cosplayer was simply trying to get alterations on his Fallout costume.
We’d always recommend saving that cosplay for your arrival at the convention, event or party especially when it involves a mask or helmet. One important reason to keep the cosplay in the bag when in general public is that you make actually be breaking the law. Virginia law, for example, reads “It shall be unlawful for any person over 16 years of age, with the intent to conceal his identity, wear any mask, hood, or other device, whereby a substantial portion of the face is hidden or covered, so as to conceal the identity of the wearer, to be or appear in any public place, or upon any private property in this Commonwealth, without first having obtained from the owner or tenant thereof consent to do so in writing.” -- Seriously…it’s considered a felony that can result in a year of jail time and/or thousands in fines.
Some cosplay may also include being a Sherriff, Police Officer, FBI or CIA agent, Medical Examiner, etc. It’s important that you don’t go wandering around in public flashing those credentials to the unassuming public. In pretty much every country, portraying yourself as a Police Officer can carry hefty jail time or fines. In Massachusetts, for example, MGL Chapter 268, Part 4, Title 1, Section 33 -
“Whoever falsely assumes or pretends to be a justice of the peace, notary public, sheriff, deputy sheriff, medical examiner, associate medical examiner, constable, police officer, probation officer, or examiner, investigator or other officer appointed by the registrar of motor vehicles, or inspector, investigator or examiner of the department of public utilities or the department of telecommunications and cable, or investigator or other officer of the alcoholic beverages control commission, or investigator or other official of the bureau of special investigations, or examiner, investigator or other officer of the department of revenue, and acts as such or requires a person to aid or assist him in a matter pertaining to the duty of such officer, shall be punished by a fine of not more than four hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year.”
Coming soon, Part II - Cosplay is not consent!