Like every year, Carnival arrives, a holiday that has ancient origins, a period of the year marked by joy and conviviality, in which it is allowed to binge, make fun of yourself and others in a goliardic and ironic atmosphere. Its meaning, literally remove the meat, it indicates the purification of body and spirit in the period preceding Lent, a time, on the contrary, dedicated to reflection and fasting. Usually we disguise ourselves with traditional masks that in the past highlighted vices and defects, such as the laziness of Harlequin or the pride of Doctor Balanzone, and which today represent virtues and qualities linked to the superheroes of comics, or exasperate the caricatural aspects of a character, usually real, in the allegorical floats of Putignano or Viareggio, the best known in Italy.

Carnival 2020 in Sicily

In modern times it has spread among young people a new trend, very different from the use of masks we are used to, coming from Japan, which became part of the traditional carnival, the Cosplay, kosopure in Japanese, corresponding to the English expression costume play, act in costume. A practice born in the Asian world of the seventies and which consists in dressing like the characters from anime, manga and video games, while, in other European and American countries, it spreads since the nineties, finding inspiration in the protagonists of films such as Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Game of Thrones or in the world of fantasy, video games, TV series; cosplaying therefore does not only represent dressing up as your favorite character but also imitating him in the way of acting and speaking. In Italy there are several events and contests related to this phenomenon, such as the famous one Lucca Comics & Games, organized in the autumn period, in which thousands of visitors invade the city between competitions and themed parades and which the real cosplayer cannot miss. To be a true cosplayer you need to read up on, study and take care of, in the smallest details, the details and the appearance of a real or fictional character, recognize yourself in it by enhancing its charismatic character, brilliant intelligence, style and qualities, identify with a classic positive hero or with his antagonist, in short, a practice that requires a lot of passion and dedication. Carnival as a mockery or exorcization of one’s or others’ defects, cosplay as an exaltation in showing qualities or distinctive traits.

Batman & Joker

But why do we disguise ourselves?

Throughout history, the mask has taken on different meanings depending on the culture to which it belongs, from a ritual, theatrical and goliardic object, primitive peoples, for example, used to disguise themselves with animal skins and other objects to perform propitiatory functions related to the harvest or during dance to put man in contact with spiritual energies, to the point of indicating the loss of identity by the wearer, its function in fact consists in protecting the person to allow him to act and to remain anonymous, its identity, or its neutrality while during the carnival it represents a sort of means of purification to ward off evil spirits and to exorcise death.

Today, however, that of transforming into a manga character, from which the cosplay trend is born, is not just a pastime, but a creative art that requires care and passion, and through which some aspects of our society can be analyzed. Cosplay is in fact considered a phenomenon of aggregation, there are numerous communities of Italian fans (Cosplayer In Italia or Cosplay Universe), virtual places where you can show your artistic works and get known, upload photos and exchange useful tips; also represents a phenomenon of freedom of expression, in which everyone is free to impersonate any character without any kind of sexual limitation or discrimination, and is ultimately seen as a game or a gesture of freedom useful for finding one’s place in the world, to understand who one really is.However, there are those who consider this narcissistic activity and the cosplayer appears as the one who refuses to grow up and takes refuge in an imaginary world made of cartoons. Some studies show that the relationship between the cosplayer and the character highlights three aspects of identification based on psychological characteristics, on one’s personal history and on the physical appearance of the chosen figure. In another study, based on personality variables, it was noted that cosplayers are characterized by a strong tendency to social inhibition, with difficulty in interpersonal relationships and show a strong need for admiration accompanied, however, by a sense of inadequacy and fear of judgment.

Although the analysis of social phenomena are of great importance to understand the evolution of our society, let’s not forget that the Carnival period represents a time of the year to be lived with fun and freedom, without discrimination, judgments and disparities, but joy and sociality for everyone, both for those who wear traditional masks and for those who exhibit a the trendiest ones, an occasion that unites and aggregates between confetti and streamers with whistles, jokes and jokes, with noises, amusements and flourishes to celebrate the most colorful and wild party of the year.

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