James T. Green is a conceptual artist, radio producer, writer, and educator from Chicago, Illinois, and now in Brooklyn, New York.

thoughts + feelings

63: Everyday Cosplay

Everyday cosplay

A few weeks ago, the NFL Draft came to Chicago. If you live here, it was impossible to avoid. Reminders graced everything from bus terminals to geotagged digital advertisements. A fervor raised among the city, exciting a (particularly large) subculture to root for their interest. Walking through downtown’s main thoroughfare, Michigan Avenue, the usual mixture of sleek urbanites and sneaker-clad visitors was replaced with a sea of football jerseys.

Interesting interactions began to capture my interest as strangers wearing jerseys of matching teams stopped on the sidewalk to chat. These interactions grew as I got closer to Grant Park; smiles, high fives, and hugs were traded from those that shared a subculture.

Consistent weather above 70 degrees means festival season has arrived in Chicago. While music festivals reign supreme, more niche gatherings are just as common, ranging from anime, sneaker collectors, and restaurant equipment enthusiasts. Whenever I come across these gatherings on my travel routes, the words “community” and “cosplay” always land into my brain. If you are not familiar, Cosplay is a form of costume play where participants take on the role of a specific character, usually in a certain subculture. For example, some of my friends engage in medieval or anime cosplay.

Whether cosplay or sports fans, there is a community and uniform that informs others you are a part of a community. Putting on a Saints uniform at a Chicago-based NFL Draft event lets attendees know:

1. I am a football fan so I belong here.

2. I am a New Orleans Saints Fan in a different city.

3. I would like to converse with fellow fans of my team.

4. I would like to talk about this certain player on the back of my jersey.

The same applies for the t-shirt you wear of your favorite band, the pin on your bag from your favorite online shop, the stickers on your MacBook, the physical book you read in public, the Instagram geolocated tag of your latte art, and the playlists you publish on Spotify. We all create an identity of ourselves to subtly inform the world that we either belong to a subculture or would like to converse with others in that subculture. While our daily activities are not of an organized convention, I think it’s beautiful what we do to peacock our allegiance to a certain group.

What did I find interesting this week?

I always wonder why we applaud rebellions in film, but not in Baltimore’s streets.

While on the subject of racial discrimination, an interview with a New York landlord proves that white tenants are favored.

To lighten things up, remember the amazing book covers from Goosebumps? Here’s an interview with the artist.

By now you are aware of the (widely co-opted) terms of “throwing shade” and “sipping tea”. This is its’ origins

Lastly, as you begin this week, think of how it would feel to practice non-judgment?

Thanks for reading,

-James

James T. Green