How Cosplay and the "Normie Stare" Made Me A Better Person

How Cosplay and the "Normie Stare" Made Me A Better Person

Another Halloween has passed, the night of the year when costumes are socially acceptable attire is over, and most people go back to being obnoxious to anyone found outside a convention in cosplay.

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This "normie" thing is a little silly. I usually see it used in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way, or one that's self-deprecating, rather than actually trying to denote something about the general population.

Anyway, I felt the link to "power suits" and judges robes was a little off-base. I mean if I went to go see a movie with my friends and they showed up in a suit and tie or in a robe, I'd have some questions even if they were a sworn-in judge or worked at a large company that expected such things, because it's weird to see those things outside of that environment.

Even I, as someone who is fully aware that cons and cosplay exist in the world, would find someone walking around town dressed like an anime or videogame character to be weird. If they approached me or came into my place of business I'd be confused, and I'd have trouble taking them seriously unless I actually knew there was a con or some other event going on nearby, which is not something your average person knows. And if I didn't know about cons or cosplay, if I thought what this person was doing was strange and had no precedent for it? Yeah, you bet I might look down on them as attention-seeking and strange, or be worried that there might really be something wrong with them and I won't know how they'll act. For all I know, their friend could be sitting nearby holding a camera and waiting to film a hilarious youtube prank of them being loud and obnoxious or otherwise disruptive to everyone around them.

I just think we're setting our expectations for "Acceptance" a little too high. If people want to dress like Ivy that's entirely their prerogative (so long as you're not too faithful to the attire and violating public decency laws), but whenever you do something that strays very far from what people are used to and expect, you're going to get a reaction whether you're being deliberately provocative or just doing it for yourself: We can't just expect everyone to keep blinders on until they express something positive.

UberPubert:
This "normie" thing is a little silly... (snip)

I think it's a bit different situations. A "normie stare" isn't just one of confusion or shocked curiosity ("Why are you wearing a suit to a movie theater?"), but rather much more "judgy". Most people know why people wear costumes to conventions and fan events, it's not a look of total confusion (other than the fact they don't know the characters as well). I go to conventions often even if I don't personally cosplay, I know people who do, and know the stares that she's talking about. Even when everyone in part of town knows a convention is in town and people will be cosplaying, you still get stares or revulsion and even fear from some.

And if you're like me and you don't look 100% like someone who goes to anime conventions, people around the area will occasionally confide in you their true feelings about it all. At best you get the "I don't get it" people which is fairly understandable, but let's just say it doesn't stop there. Even though, when pressed, they have experienced no widespread negativity and mostly politeness from the convention crowd,

That's not to say it's ubiquitous, many people who work around the area enjoy it because of all the extra business, others enjoy the celebratory atmosphere. I'd even go to say that the majority of people have no problem with it, but the "normie stare" is a thing and it can put a damper on the experience if you venture too far away from the convention hall. You can also imagine what it's like crossplaying.

hentropy:
That's not to say it's ubiquitous, many people who work around the area enjoy it because of all the extra business, others enjoy the celebratory atmosphere. I'd even go to say that the majority of people have no problem with it, but the "normie stare" is a thing and it can put a damper on the experience if you venture too far away from the convention hall. You can also imagine what it's like crossplaying.

That just reinforces the 'time and place' idea. If you're in a convention, or a section of a town like San Diego which is used to those sorts of things, then go for it. But people have the right to be weirded out and uncomfortable when someone walks up in a wizard's robe and hat, or a handful of leather strips, or a neon green maid outfit. It's not standard wear in our society at large, and if you choose to deviate from that then you can expect to be viewed as outside the norm. I wouldn't wear my business suit to a goth bar, or PVC pants to my job at the university, because that's outside the norm for those situations and it demonstrates either being tone deaf to cultural norms, or being deliberately provocative. If Liana dresses as Ivy for an anime convention, I'm all for it, but expecting the PC Party delegates to appreciate that context or support her wearing that getup outside of that context is too far. You get the 'normie stare' because you're deliberately not acting normal, and people react to that.

I think there's a reason, in the related video, that you found people dressed as witches and wizards in Salem, and not people dressed as Super Sentai or even Mario.

Thunderous Cacophony:

hentropy:
That's not to say it's ubiquitous, many people who work around the area enjoy it because of all the extra business, others enjoy the celebratory atmosphere. I'd even go to say that the majority of people have no problem with it, but the "normie stare" is a thing and it can put a damper on the experience if you venture too far away from the convention hall. You can also imagine what it's like crossplaying.

That just reinforces the 'time and place' idea. If you're in a convention, or a section of a town like San Diego which is used to those sorts of things, then go for it. But people have the right to be weirded out and uncomfortable when someone walks up in a wizard's robe and hat, or a handful of leather strips, or a neon green maid outfit. It's not standard wear in our society at large, and if you choose to deviate from that then you can expect to be viewed as outside the norm. I wouldn't wear my business suit to a goth bar, or PVC pants to my job at the university, because that's outside the norm for those situations and it demonstrates either being tone deaf to cultural norms, or being deliberately provocative. If Liana dresses as Ivy for an anime convention, I'm all for it, but expecting the PC Party delegates to appreciate that context or support her wearing that getup outside of that context is too far. You get the 'normie stare' because you're deliberately not acting normal, and people react to that.

I think there's a reason, in the related video, that you found people dressed as witches and wizards in Salem, and not people dressed as Super Sentai or even Mario.

If I'm reading the article right, there was a fan convention at the same time and place as the political convention, it's not like a bunch of cosplayers were crashing the party. Aside from it being a hilarious scheduling quirk, the cosplayers have as much right to be there as the political suits. Liana wasn't saying people should be accepted when they show up to church in cosplay. The convention center, as well as the convention center area, is a place where cosplayers can be reasonably expected to be seen, just as police uniforms can be expected at a police conference, but yet cosplay gets a disproportionate about revulsion and opposition from your average person, even though cosplayers aren't really hurting anything or being especially rude to people. It's not just a momentary "weirded out", it's a sustained dislike of people for dressing up in a way they don't personally, morally approve of for all the normal reasons. Cosplay is childish, attention-whoring, slutty, etc.

It seems Liana's constantly trying to portray "Cosplayers" as an alienated subculture, struggling in a war between "us" and "them".

Right off the bat, she starts the dichotomy by referring to those who don't Cosplay as "normies". Then she mentions the "normie" stare as if it's a type of unwanted attention given to people who can't help the way they look. I can completely understand that complaint if it came from, say, a disabled war vet. But a Cosplayer?

To the best of my knowledge, Cosplayers don't just wake up each morning with some pathological urge to dress up as a character and go to work or school like that. They do so because they enjoy a) playing as a popular character and b) like demonstrating their crafting skills in fabricating their costumes. And they usually do it for a convention or as a paying gig.

And yeah, if you're dressed up in some way that's out of the norm (see what I did there?), people will look at you. Occasionally, after my martial arts class I'll have to stop by the grocery store while I'm still in uniform. And people stare because it's unusual to see a fugitive from a Bruce Lee movie walking around the local Safeway. To paraphrase Chris Rock, it can be annoying...but I understand.

I continue to read the column because I do find it interesting how Cosplay has helped people with their self esteem and I admire their passion, entrepreneurial nature and creativity. But a lot of times, it seems like the column's just an excuse for Liana to humblebrag about her boobs.

 

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