Morphsuits as a cultural identity crisis

I know right, what a HOT TAKE. Basically my list of blog topics (it’s a long list) just reads like a shopping list of things that are terrible about society.

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But anyway, Morphsuits annoy me so I’m going to write about them for a bit. Just so we’re clear what I’m talking about, I mean these:

Ewwwww. I mean, just ewwww, right? Aren’t they just the most grotesque thing ever?

And yet they seem to have an inexplicable appeal. Originally a rip-off of Japanese zentai suits, they’ve been around in the UK for about six years. I think the first time I saw one must have been at a music festival around that time. I thought to myself:

  1. What the hell is that person wearing?
  2. Why the hell are they wearing that?
  3. Are they ok?
  4. Is it some kind of medical thing? (Like maybe they have a full body skin condition…)
  5. How the hell do you see in that?
  6. How the hell do you go to the toilet in that?
  7. What’s going on?

Back when they were first launched, morphsuits were an instant attention grabbing device. Just squeeze yourself in, and suddenly you’re the life and soul of the party. From “who’s this guy?” to “who’s THIS guy?!” in the blink of an eye.

And that’s what disturbed me about them from the start. That they could essentially be a substitute for personality. OH YES HERE COMES THE HOT TAKE, GUYS.

You see, I’ve always had reservations about dressing up in general. I don’t like costumes or even dressing in a slightly unusual way (he says, wearing a tweed jacket and novelty socks). I just get super self-conscious. At Halloween, the most I’ll go for typically is “ghost” – or that time I went as “cool jacket guy” because I was wearing a cool jacket that day.

2013-10-31 13.14.49-1 (nobody got that it was loosely based on Ryan Gosling from Drive)

I think it’s the putting-yourself-out-there that I struggle with. As someone who is more self-conscious than most, putting on any kind of costume means exposing yourself to that public sphere more than usual. And I just get uncomfortable. Not like other people who can just whack on the most insane costume and feel totally happy with themselves.

But as I see it, a Morphsuit is designed specifically for people like me. It allows you to enter into that public sphere fully, to really put yourself out there, but without any of the risk. You’re exposed, yet anonymous. You’re saying “look at me! look how wacky I am! look at all this PERSONALITY!” but also “don’t know me! you can’t know who I am! I’m a mystery to you!”

And that’s the crux of what annoys me. The two-faced nature of it all. It lets you get away with fitting in with everyone else while preserving the reasons you didn’t want to do that in the first place. It basically feels like cheating. People wearing morphsuits are essentially liars.

Plus they’re just lazy. A colour isn’t a costume. Yes, you’re wearing a red suit, so what? I’m supposed to have some kind of extra respect for you automatically now? Show me your face, coward.

The only person who can pull of wearing a Morphsuit is Charlie from Always Sunny. But that’s because Charlie is just great anyway.

Why do I care so much about this? This probably just sounds like YET ANOTHER of my rants about something that most people wouldn’t give a second thought to. Yeah, some people wear Morpsuits sometime. Yeah, they’re a little weird I guess, but whatever. So what?

It’s because I think it’s indicative of a larger problem. A problem with society. Yes, I’m going there.

So before I was talking about costumes and stuff, and how I don’t really engage with the whole dressing up for Halloween thing. I see myself as not fitting into the whole costume crowd. I just can’t get into it like everyone else seems to.

And yet that’s not really the whole picture. So much of dressing up is lame and predictable.

Think about it. Think about the last Halloween party you went to. How many Walter Whites did you see? How many flavour-of-the-month bad taste costumes was everyone wearing? (Remember Sexy Ebola Doctor?). I’d like to suggest that people who go into this whole thing are in fact paradoxically more conformist than those of us who don’t.

Where’s the paradox exactly? Well, there’s this tension: Showing off how wacky and individual you are by standing out from the crowd versus fitting into the crowd’s preconceived notions of acceptability.

In pretentious terms, it’s a existential struggle between the Apollonian and the Dionysian. The individual versus society. Trying to be something but being part of something larger.

A good example is something else I’ve noticed recently.

 

When did EVERYONE start dressing up as the Smurfs and the Mario Brothers? Like seriously, when did that become the thing? Because it’s definitely become a thing, especially amongst students.

I don’t like it. And it fits in with what I was saying above. This isn’t really a costume. It’s not you exerting your individuality. On the contrary, it’s demonstrating your willingness to go along with the crowd.

I’m not just talking crazy right? This is super weird. Dressing up as a Smurf, in particular, takes a lot of time, commitment, and body paint. Doing that is a statement. But I can’t see it as anything other than a statement about the lengths you’ll go to in order to fit in.

This is why I’ve called this post Morphsuits as a cultural identity crisis (well, also I am a massive snob and like to pretend to be an intellectual for lols). The crisis truly is an existential one: is our culture about standing out or standing in? (Standing in line, I guess is the clever wordplay I’m implying there).

We worship celebrities, of course, the height of the Apollonian ideal – uber defined beings held in high regard above others for their achievements. And yet in striving to become like them everyone ends up being the same. Everyone going for that gym-sculpted body, with boring fake-tanned faces, living for Nandos and going out clubbing all night, with the selfies to prove it. Let’s just end this civilisation right here and now.

If you really want to stand out, go and do something totally off the wall. Go and eat a house. Live upside down for a year. Write a blog post about morphsuits for no reason. That’s real personality.

In their first year alone, Morphsuits sold 20,000 costumes. That number has no doubt grown exponentially since. Buying one is like buying an Apple product. Think Different – Buy the Same.

It’s not a substitute for being an interesting person.

PS. Today I Learned: Morphsuits are banned in France due to anti-mask laws.

PPS. If you need another reason to hate them, you can also get naked morphsuits…

1 thought on “Morphsuits as a cultural identity crisis

  1. Regardless of how secure you are are in your self-concious identity, you only really get the real appeal for a Morphsuit when you try one. It is not a egotistical desire to appear more amazing and full of character.

    Instead it is a simple release from the humdrum of everyday. Since your hidden identity is ultimately free from judgement, it allows you to be the person you never dared to be. The real you. Not the self-concious, knock-kneed individual always worrying about what people might think. Always scared to push the boat out.

    Let’s please have less critical analysis of something which you have never tried, and apparently miss the point of in qute a mammoth way. Go morphing with friends for a few evenings, then come back and erase this self-indulgent drivel.

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