I had an active imagination as a child. It didn’t take much for me to get lost in fantasy worlds of my own making. My imaginative play often took the form of role-play that would even involve various costumes or props that I would make for myself. Whenever Back to the Future came on TV, I would head into the storage room and find an unused cardboard box to cut out my own hoverboard. I even had a puffy pleather coat that I thought looked similar enough to Marty McFly’s futuristic, self-drying, size-adjusting red jacket that I would wear it all around the house.
My imagination only grew as I began taking martial arts lessons when I turned six years old. Now my imaginative play could be fused with a hint of reality as my Tae Kwon Do skills opened new worlds to me. I was particularly drawn to Ninja Turtles, 3 Ninjas, and Surf Ninjas; basically anything with ninjas! I can remember when I received a ninja costume to use for Halloween. I played in it so much that I wore it out, and I had to go trick-or-treating in an old vampire costume instead.
The imaginative art of role-playing is not an activity for young children alone. As “nerd culture” has moved into the mainstream, so too has cosplay (a blend of “costume play”). It is not uncommon now to see adults participating in role-play at movie premiers or conventions, dressing up in their favorite fantasy characters – sometimes with quite elaborate and well-made designs!
This is all good fun. I’ve been known to dress up in my poor-man’s version of a Captain America costume from time to time. But imagine the chaos and tragedy that would ensue at a convention where cosplaying participants believed they were the characters they were portraying. Women dressed up as Supergirl would be jumping off roofs; those who thought they were truly Jedi and Sith would be dueling to the death next to Mark Hamill’s picture booth; villains would be planting bombs to terrorize the city. It would be madness!
While such destructive acts are unlikely to ever occur (I hope), this scenario illustrates an important concept: pretending to be something we’re not can have disastrous consequences.