The whole point of cosplaying, or dressing up as fictional characters, is to inhabit a person totally unlike oneself. The community prides itself on being inclusive and accepting, encouraging fat people to dress up as skinny characters or men to dress up as women. But all hell broke lose when a Korean woman donned the costume of a Mexican hacker from the hugely popular Overwatch video game.
Professional Korean cosplayer Pion Kim is known for her astoundingly realistic costumes. Her Sombra outfit, the latest Latina hero on the video game Overwatch, was lauded as one of her best yet. She even donated the hair she had to cut recreating the look to charity.
Everything was looking great until the PC police showed up to ruin everything. Some social justice warriors accused Kim of “brownface” for using a subtle bronzer to darken her skin, and conducted what amounted to a witch hunt against her.
Many in the Mexican community stood up for Kim, alleging that “gringos” were getting offended on their behalf and saying they didn’t care if people cosplay as a Mexican character.
“I’m mexican, i have a ‘dark skin tone,'” a woman wrote on Facebook. “And I think that Sombra cosplay was amazing. She did an amazing job. I mean, if you want to cosplay an ‘Avatar character’ you OBVIOUSLY will paint your skin BLUE, she did the same with Sombra.”
Despite the support, Kim apologized for her (non)transgression and vowed to never cosplay as Sombra again. A real loss considering the brilliance of her Sombra rendition.
“Some people mentioned me about my SOMBRA COSPLAY is rude and offensive because of skin color make up,” she wrote on Facebook. “At first, I’m Korean cosplayer and I never heard of that before – BROWN FACE make up is OFFENSIVE thing.”
This controversy is part of an ongoing trend of those in Western countries getting offended on behalf of other cultures. Just like when Katy Perry wore a kimono during a performance, the West freaked out, while people from Japan loved it.
Maybe we should start listening to those outside the Western bubble before getting outraged.