LARPing or Cosplaying Drow: Is It Blackface?

Drow Painted Woman

When I first saw a discussion about drow and blackface, I actually didn’t even know what drow were. Apparently, they are a sub-race of elves that live in the Underdark. They have obsidian skin, with hair ranging from pale yellow, gold, white or silver.

For those of you not in the know, here is the definition of blackface:

black·face

ˈblakfās/

noun

noun: black-face

  1. the makeup used by a nonblack performer playing a black role. The role played is typically comedic or musical and usually is considered offensive.

Drow are not representative of black people or Africans; they are a fictional race of elves. And yet, there are some who are still offended at this particular brand of cosplay. I don’t know who these people are, but I am convinced they are rabid hipsters who are probably offended at everything, and have no idea what blackface really is, or the historical context behind it.

About a year ago, there was a fabulous cosplayer who went the extra nine for whoever she was dressing up as. One of the characters she donned was Michonne, including darkened skin, a locked wig, and prosthetic enhancement to look like the character. Her goal was to be as accurate as possible to the character of Michonne. While I don’t think the extras were necessary (skin and prosthetic enhancement), I also don’t think it was racist. She has since enhanced the look, leaving it on prominent display on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Purple-Candy-Cosplay-294657134029793/

Purple Candy Cosplay's Facebook Page

Here’s the problem: actual black face is a derogatory misrepresentation of what a black person looks like—tar black skin, and huge, cartoonish pink or red lips and ratted hair. Drow are not black; they aren’t an actual race of people. I haven’t come across a Drow cosplayer or LARPer, but do they think they’re dressing up as black people when they don the makeup? I’d imagine no.

There is no shortage of legit things to be offended at, and no shortage of racist displays. Creating a problem where there is none is what is truly harmful in that, it lessens both the importance and the spotlight on the truly objectionable, obscene and racist displays out there. Comparisons such as this one—drow is really blackface cosplay—diminishes the conversation. It also speaks to a level of ignorance in regards to those expressing this opinion. I am all about standing up for what is right and being politically correct, but it is not necessary to create things to be offended at. Part of me has wondered if the initial upset was a joke, or being pushed as offensive in order to be used as a strawman—

“People are offended at everything. They should get over it,” etc. Things like this can be used in an attempt to make legitimate concerns look farcical. When I hear complaints such as this, I can’t help but wonder that, as I can’t take it seriously. Of all of the things one could be upset at in American society that are problematic and harmful to black people, this is the cause you take up? This is what needs to be discussed? This is what matters?

Drow paint

There is something inherently wrong with that.

In conclusion, drow cosplay is the problem that isn’t. For all of you who were concerned about it, please, rally behind a real issue.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Geek Initiative on Patreon!

Comments

comments

About Jill Robi 10 Articles
Writer. Journalist. Creator.Jill Robi is a writer first, and a fangirl second. A Chicago native with a BA in fiction writing, she is a journalist, movie aficionado, self-proclaimed geek, avid comic-con attendee and panelist, cosplayer, and fandom participant. A freelancer, she continues to grow her own creation, Fangirl, as a press and film critic.Jill is a seasoned writer, predominantly known for her interviews. She has worked for Unite4:Good magazine, where she cut her journalistic teeth with legend Dionne Warwick, a plethora of CEOs and various musical talent.A freelancer, she has worked for the Sugar Gamers and Black Girl Nerds. Jill regularly contributes to The Geek Initiative as a press and film critic.11893743_10101299606964507_8393959155463387595_oCurrently, Jill is working on her fourth novel. Not keen on being traditional, it is also her fourth, vastly different genre to write in [street contemporary]. Though she favors pop-fic and chick lit, Jill also likes to write poetry, noir, and sci-fi/fantasy. She particularly loves exploring character studies.She writes first and foremost for her own entertainment. She hopes that by sharing her work with the world, she can also achieve the entertainment and enjoyment of others as well.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*