by Kristi R. Johnson
Image from The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror I
Since Halloween is less than a week away, I thought I would discuss something a little more seasonally appropriate than a simple (or often not so simple) grammar, word choice, or writing issue.
Today I am going to discuss something that many people know about, but I know there are a fair amount of readers out there who aren’t quite sure what the difference is between wearing a costume, and cosplay.
Historically, a costume is actually a specific style of dress that reflects a person or group’s class, gender, ethnicity, profession, etc.
But for purposes that pertain to Halloween, a costume is that outfit you wear when you want to look like The Joker for a day. It’s what many of you wore as a kid when it was time to go door to door asking neighborhood families for candy. Some are scary, but a lot of them are not, especially for the younger set. My all-time favorite is still a toddler who could barely walk dressed up as Winnie the Pooh. Or a pug dog dressed up as Darth Vader. Both of them were pretty adorable.
Cosplay, on the other hand, is a contraction of the words “costume” and “play,” and is more like a performance art. What cosplayers wear is usually handmade and represents a specific character. These characters are often from anime, manga, books, movies, television, video games, you name it. If there is a character with an even slightly distinctive look or dress code, someone can cosplay it.
Also, ‘cosplay’ is most often used as a verb. While ‘costume’ is noun.
It’s one thing if I buy an Alice in Wonderland costume from Party City and go to a Halloween party. It is quite another if I buy the necessary fabric and crafts needed to make a Heimdall outfit, put in the work of actually putting it together, and then attended Alamo City Comic-Con wearing it while looking both solemn and wise the whole time (if you can’t tell, I have absolutely considered doing this).
Without putting too fine a point on it, cosplay is almost more like personification or embodiment. How well a person is able to pull it off depends on just how much they can actually look like the character.
I understand the line between costumes and cosplay is probably still fuzzy for some, but ultimately they’re both about having fun, or at least they should be.
Either way, the WNW wishes everyone a happy and safe Halloween, and we’ll see you next week.