In the gaming community, where things like this happen, maybe it’s not the best to use blackface in cosplay. Even so, it happens with surprising frequency.
One of the most recent examples of this was Karina “Karupups” Martsinkevich’s Lifeline cosplay. Twitch has issued a 30-day ban for the streamer, shutting down the channel before the live stream had even ended.
For the Apex Legends-themed cosplay, Karupups had put on a costume, dyed her hair, and then was seen applying dark foundation in an attempt to portray Lifeline’s ethnicity. The video was meant as a makeup tutorial.
“My cosplay wasn’t meant to be painful to anyone. Please let me highlight that it was just for fun. I just wanted to change into my favorite Legend from the game,” she said on YouTube.
Many of her fans seemed to remain supportive of her in spite of the ban.
Karupups went on to say that she didn’t realize the racist history of blackface. While she is from Lithuania, blackface has a long racist history throughout the world. Since the 1800s, actors would not only wear boot polish to mimic darker skin, but would also use exaggerated mannerisms to portray harmful stereotypes.
Even after the backlash on Twitch, Karupups posted a photo of the cosplay to Instagram.
“The character of Lifeline was already black, and if I did it in white, it would not have been suitable for the character, and that wouldn’t be a complete cosplay,” she said.
Karupups then compared blackface to painting one’s skin green for a green fictional character. But many cosplayers disagree with this notion. Black cosplayers have often noted that “being black isn’t a costume.”