Cosplay Fame: How and Why It Happens

Cosplay Fame: How and Why It Happens
by eva_guy01
Originally posted in eva_guy01’s Multiply blog

Original disclaimer: My blog entry contents are based on my own observations of the cosplay communtiy. Feel free to comment and give your own ideas and views, but I will delete posts that are deemed flammable. Thanks!

At one point, I stood back and looked at the community these days and thought to myself, “why does fame come to those who least expect it? And very rarely to those who actually strive for it?”

Fame is relative, it depends so much on a lot of factors, which I would like to discuss briefly. This is not intended to teach cosplayers how to get fame. Instead, it’s to provide an understanding on why fame falls to the few, whether they aimed for it or not.

1. Being the First – Anyone who knows the quote “first impression lasts” would find it a useful explanation on why some cosplayers are never forgotten. It’s because they wore or did something that was never worn or done before. You were the first bishie, the first mecha, the first lolita, the first crossplayer… and the list goes on. “Firsts” also cover gimmicks, such as the first transforming costume, the first to use latex, the first to use recycled materials, among others. Anyone else following in their footsteps will fall under the pioneer’s shadow. But this is only for the short term: a quick burst of fame for being different or unusual. The following factors that come next ensure the longetivity of such fame.

2. High Profile – one other way of becoming famous is to become the community’s standard. Winning competitions is one of them, with your name assured of a place in somebody’s online winner roster. Keep winning and people remember and talk about you.

3. Persistence – Being first or winning a contest may put you on the spotlight for a year or so, but there is also a saying “Out of sight, out of mind.” Cosplayers may keep showing up at every con or another, wearing the same costumes over and over again for years. Sometimes, these trademarks are what keeps people remembering them: such as the same giant sword you carry no matter what costume you are in, or those bunny ears, or that annoyingly bright red carton chest plate… the list goes on. This also applies to online presence as well, especially if your internet name is firmly connected to your cosplay costumes or any cosplay related activities.

4. Controversy – Reputations, whether good or bad, retain a certain kind of mental glue to a community’s consciousness. If certain reputations were blown up, talked about and even intentionally became the center of aggression, they are remembered well. Often, this is the easiest and most used tactic to becoming famous, and I can rattle a few names off the top of my mental list. Although I’d rather refrain from mentioning them to lessen the already burgeoning controversies surrounding them.

So, these are the 4 ways cosplayers become well known. It may surprise you that most of the cosplayers who happened to become famous due to the mentioned ways never wanted the fame in the first place. They happened to stick to the community’s consciousness because they were the first, had a high profile, were very persistent or controversial. Other cosplayers seem to crave that very attention, but rarely achieve it using reasons #1 and #2. Number 3, persistence, may work for the patient ones, but the majority simply thought to use #4. Because in the world of cosplay, no one seems to be able to resist listening to a bit of drama once in a while.

  • Tifa

    Hello there! I’m working on a master’s thesis about Philippine cosplayers’ online social media practices and the related issues that can be discussed alongside them, e.g. fame and privacy. May I ask for your permission to cite/quote this article, as well as this one (http://cosplay.ph/2012/06/choice-of-cosplay-were-you-asking-for-it/#more-207) in my thesis? While the norm in the Philippines is “if it’s public, it’s fair game,” I’m currently studying in a country that is a lot more sensitive about privacy, so I just had to ask to make sure. Thank you!