Now, before I receive any lecturing e-mails from cosplaying fans, let me clarify:
The question is legitimate. I'm asking ; I'm not accusing or implying or insinuating. I freely admit I know very little about the subject at hand and I'm not in the business of passing judgment with zero first-hand knowledge. But because cosplay seems to be getting bigger – and not just in Japan – and it's also a big part of the gaming industry, I thought I'd present fans with some general questions.
I'm just not sure I understand the fascination. In truth, the concept of "cosplay" isn't new; it goes back to the early Star Wars and Star Trek days, when fans dressed up as their favorite characters and went to see the movies. Then there was the well-documented Dungeons & Dragons cosplay adventures that got some media attention in the '80s. And you know, I'll bet cosplay goes even further back, although I'm not familiar with its earliest history. But I still don't understand the desire to dress up as a fictional character. I suppose in the most basic sense, it's simple escapism and nothing more.
But is it? I mean, we're talking about people who are often considered "weird" by the mainstream in the first place. We're talking about sci-fi and fantasy and hence, the "normal" masses are bound to pass judgment. Therefore, I often wonder if cosplay is almost a statement of sorts; i.e., "yeah, I love my favorite fictional character from a sci-fi movie or video game, and I really don't care what you think." There seems to be a lot of that defiance in our culture today (I won't get into specifics), but it might fit. It could explain why so many cosplayers are so…photogenic. It's clear that at least some of them want attention.
On the other hand, it's very club-like. In other words, it's niche enough so it feels like you're part of a group, that you're mingling with those who have similar tastes. Even if you have no idea what that person is dressed up as, you know he or she is dressed up, just like you. That has to hold some attraction; we're all human after all, and we all like to fit in. And as I just got finished saying, I have a feeling many cosplayers have some difficulty "fitting in" on a daily basis. Therefore, they get what every human desires – acceptance – by cosplaying with others. That seems viable.
But maybe I'm just being too psychological. Maybe I'm over-complicating this. Maybe it's just about a bunch of people who like to dress up as fantastical characters, because they view it as fun and entertaining. If you have any other information, though, I'd be happy to hear it.