Resistance within Reproduction: The physical, embodied reappropriation of produced gendered aesthetics through cosplay

Katarina H. S. Birkedal

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The hegemonic production of everyday gendered visual normality by Hollywood studios, such as Disney-owned Marvel, is increasingly acknowledged as a crucial aspect of IPE. Marvel’s popular superhero narratives can be understood as militarised; as violent, gendered narratives that invest and are invested in normalising traditional normative social orders. Cosplay is the act of dressing up as and imitating characters from popular culture, most commonly at fan conventions: i.e., the officially encouraged (re)production of hegemonic, produced aesthetics for personal use and wear. Through economic and time investments, the cosplayer is immersed in the narrative and the character; as such, they epitomise the consumption of banal gendered aesthetics. However, cosplay is frequently described as engendering a sense of liberation and empowerment. I argue that the affective physicality of the performance of Otherness, and the social legitimation of that performance, results in the cosplayer’s embodiment of those gendered aesthetics becoming a site of resistance. The (re)production and embodiment of produced aesthetics transforms who speaks: i.e. the cosplayers take the creative process embedded in the hegemonic cultural producers of Hollywood and claim them for their own. The resistance is also challenging how characters and aesthetics are ‘supposed’ to be used and understood. Consequently, cosplayers reappropriate myths of the people that might be taken from them through the processes of capitalism and hegemonic narrative production. In order to investigate this, I used autoethnography to observe the affects of this process on myself. Investigating this reappropriation of the hegemonic culturally produced gendered, militarised aesthetics by the core consumers of these narratives, I argue that the cosplayer’s embodiment of militarised narratives becomes a form of what I term resistance within reproduction.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventBISA 43rd Annual Conference 2018 - Bath, United Kingdom
Duration: 13 Jun 201815 Jun 2018


ConferenceBISA 43rd Annual Conference 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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