I strongly recommend reading: “Oh, You Sexy Geek!”: “Geek Girls” and the Problem of Self-Objectification
by Courtney Stoker (found via metanews
I'm particularly taken with Olivia Waite's interpretation of Leia's "I will strangle you for making me wear this" slave costume.
Rambling thoughts in response to the essay... or just my own vague thoughts about cosplay.
I've always had ambivalence about cosplay: I rejected Barbie as a child, because I recognized the poisonous apple
, and when I encountered cosplay, I thought (a) "Ugh, dress-up ... I hate clothes" and (b) "self-Barbiezation, double ugh."
I gradually overcame that because I learned that good cosplay is an art that takes great craftsmanship, it's fun, and it's creative. Also, I have a totemic relationship with fictional characters: I enjoy and feel satisfied when I see excellent representations of them, in the way that traditional cultures like seeing their gods or cultural symbols represented. There's something viscerally appealing about "Oh my gosh, there's Lulu FOR REELZ
!" that still hits me when I come across a good cosplay photo, even though I've seen a gazillion good Lulu cosplays.
Which is fine: in that case, I'm just appreciating cosplay as a craft and as an activity. However, because I'm bi, there's also a part of me that responds to fanservice -- usually designed by and for guys, but it often intersects with my own tastes. (My self-chagrin being represented by userpic above.) In my case it's non-heteronormative, but still, I like looking at Teh Sexy. So I'm buying into and perpetuating fanservice by favoring female cosplayers with The Sexy bodytype, except that I have a slightly
broader definition of that bodytype than some
Also, if a character is too visibly objectified and stripped of strength/intelligence/personality, I recognize the poisonous apple and recoil from what is my personal Uncanny Valley: a recognizable female character sapped of her soul for titillation purposes. Hentai does this in spades. Sometimes cosplay does it, mostly by body language and gestures that telegraph meanings which don't seem to me to fit the characters at all.
So anyway. Good essay, and that's my rambling response.