The role of images in creating cosplayers
“Because of the images that draw him into the story, he is liberated from the restraint usually placed on some of his instincts. He projects his personal desires onto the world, because these desires wear the mask of everyday emotions. Since this situation occurs repeatedly, its effects are long-lasting. Frequent film watching creates a new personality and leads to a kind of addiction while at the same time aggravating internal lack of balance in the imagination or emotions…” ~ Jacques Ellul
“Cosplay, short for ‘costume-play’, is the modern practice of wearing costumes, props, and accessories to represent a character. Typically, cosplay is the extension of a person’s fandom for the character or genre, such as science fiction and fantasy, anime and manga, comic books, and other creative media. The purposes of cosplaying can vary, but include the expression of adoration of the character, enjoying attention or approval from audiences/peers, and experiencing the creative process of the costume construction. Therefore, cosplay can extend to clothing design, fabrication, make-up, prop making, and other skills involved in creating costumes…”
Source: Expressions of Fandom: Findings from a Psychological Survey of Cosplay and Costume Wear Robin S. Rosenberg and Andrea M. Letamendi – http://www.drrobinrosenberg.com/resources/Cosplay-Expressions%20of%20Fandom.pdf
Cosplay Psychology – http://angelaberico.blogspot.com/
I’m currently reading The Humiliation of the Word by Jacques Ellul and, when I read the quote (above), I couldn’t help but think of cosplay and cosplayers.
Ellul’s book concerns the overthrow of words by images, especially recent images, such as photography, magazines, comic books, films, and television. We can add to this list: graphic novels, anime, video games, and all manner of computer imagery.
It’s impossible to imagine the rise of cosplay apart from the concomitant rise of a culture dominated by images.
The context of the Ellul quote is below:
“Films present us with a different problem. In this case we have before us the debauchery of images — the deluge which crashes down on a person once, often twice, a week. There is no longer any doubt about their effect: psychologists and medical doctors agree that films do not leave a person intact. The emotional shock is too powerful, but not just in the story that is told: even the atmosphere in the theater, the collective darkness which leaves each person in the crowd solitary and caught up in the hypnotic light of the screen. It is common for biological as well as psychological modifications to take place during the viewing of a film: rapid pulse, changes in facial expression, which becomes ecstatic and at the same time weary and satiated.
“The impact of these images continues well beyond the few hours of film viewing. Taking advantage of the relaxation in mental tension, self-control over one’s feelings and emotions becomes less effective during darkness: a kind of giving up of oneself to “things as they are” takes place as the impact of images reaches its maximum. Not only the thoughts and body but the entire being of a person participates in the emotion stirred up by the film, which possesses a power previously unmatched by any other means.
“The film viewer is placed in a state of emotional accessibility that opens him wide to influences, forms, and myths. Because of the images that draw him into the story, he is liberated from the restraint usually placed on some of his instincts. He projects his personal desires onto the world, because these desires wear the mask of everyday emotions. Since this situation occurs repeatedly, its effects are long-lasting. Frequent film watching creates a new personality and leads to a kind of addiction while at the same time aggravating internal lack of balance in the imagination or emotions. Obviously every frequent film-goer is not thus poisoned, but his personality is modified by the world of images whose company he keeps, as they superimpose themselves on the real world.
“Film images are perhaps only encountered once a week. But they are augmented, reinforced, and accentuated by the daily images of television or the newspaper. The absolute image thus becomes familiar, brought down to the level of family and private life by television. We actually live with a continual play acted out before us; our home becomes nothing but scenery. An imaginary mutation takes place that is continually renewed and that erases and takes the shine off reality. A screen of images is placed between me and my world — a circle of images that become so much truer than my own life I cannot rid myself of them. Television is the supremely powerful drug. I end up living my existence before the very thing that eliminates me…”
Source: Jacques Ellul, The Humiliation of the Word (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985) pp. 119-120 (emphasis added)