A finalist set to compete in the upcoming EuroCosplay 2019 competition has been removed from the event after organizers received complaints that cosplayer Alice Livanart was engaging in the racist practice of ‘blackface’ by cosplaying as Pyke, the undead tool of vengeance from League of Legends.
According to French radio network RTL, Livanart first qualified for the EuroCosplay competition after taking first place at the Coupe de France de cosplay, a French cosplay competition held this past September 21st-22nd. Livanart won the competition with the debut of her Pyke cosplay, which cost her over €3000, and her victory earned her the title of French cosplay champion and the honor of being the French representative at the Eurocosplay competition.
“Sink ’em all”
I love Pyke, and I couldn’t wish a better cosplay to win the French Cosplay cup. 😍
Photo @Allpo_Dayo & Antony Gomes@riotgames / @LeagueOfLegends / @PykeTheRipper pic.twitter.com/CKrCRXTB1T
— Alice Livanart (@Livianart) September 27, 2019
The EuroCosplay Championships are an international event “organised by cosplayers and MCM Comic Con with a strong focus on craftsmanship. 18 countries took part in the inaugural Championships in 2010, and in 2019 25 of the best cosplay crafters from 25 countries across the European continent will take to the stage to try and claim the title of EuroCosplay Champion.”
However, on October 8th, Eurocosplay announced that Livanart’s cosplay would be removed from the competition due to “concerns regarding the costume” that accused Livanart of engaging in blackface:
We hear and appreciate all of your concerns regarding the costume of one of our finalists. We would like to confirm that this cosplay will not be appearing in the event, and we would like to apologise for any offence caused.
— EuroCosplay (@EuroCosplay) October 8, 2019
We would like to also confirm that we are currently reviewing all of terms and conditions to make sure that this does not happen again.
— EuroCosplay (@EuroCosplay) October 8, 2019
The outrage and concern towards alleged racism by the organization seems to be selective, as Irish cosplayer Bambi Lashes was selected to represent Ireland in the competition with a cosplay of the ‘East Witch,’ clearly inspired by traditional Asian cultures, from the art book Fantasy of the Dream by Japanese illustrator Sakizo:
#Finalist Bambi Lashes Cosplay from Ireland as East Witch from Sakizo’s Fantasy of the Dream. Selected at @comicconirl in June 2019
📷: Gerard Caffrey Photography#EuroCosplay #MCMLondonComicCon pic.twitter.com/KBv6duwvqE
— EuroCosplay (@EuroCosplay) August 22, 2019
Livanart spoke to the BBC about the decision to bar her from competition, “There is a huge difference between blackface and cosplay.” She added, “I am not saying blackface doesn’t exist. I am saying Pyke isn’t blackface.”
She continued, “I made Pyke with all the love I have for that character. He is amazing and I just wanted to be him, because I love him. And that’s cosplay.”
“Pyke is a fictitious character, he doesn’t exist. The only reason he’s alive and walking is because there’s something magic in cosplay,” she stated.
She would add that the ban did bring her to tears, but she received quite a bit of support that “helped [her] when [she] was down.”
“Some people wrote me messages that really touched me. And helped me when I was down, when I was crying, because I didn’t understand what was happening. “I still have so much support and love, also hate, of course, and now more people know me. I spent €3,000 (£2,700) on Pyke. I made so many sacrifices.”
Livanart did state she would continue to cosplay as Pyke.
“Yes, I am going to cosplay Pyke. I will not let him down, he’s like my baby. I worked too much on this cosplay for it to stay in the closet.”
Fans Show Support
Since the announcement of her ban, Livanart has garnered an outpouring of support across social media from cosplay and video game fans who recognize that Livanart was merely attempting to remain accurate to the source material rather than engage in any form of racism:
There were most of comments hidden in Facebook, but here it goes. pic.twitter.com/X1V0CmYOd2
— дикая (@heeljak) October 8, 2019
She literally made a bodysuit of an undead man from a fantasy universe who happens to have a skin tone two shades darker then her. And all you see is her black facing. I’m so sorry for all of you
— HIVE Lin | caelnu (@caelnu) October 8, 2019
I can’t believe what I am seeing. @Livianart got banned from a cosplay competition for cosplaying Pyke because of
wait for it
This is ridiculous, next time they are gonna ban someone for wearing clothes of other cultures or hairstyle.
Cosplay is art you morons. pic.twitter.com/L6ZujqlNen
— G2 Lothar (@LotharHS) October 9, 2019
“The dude isn’t of color and made an entire mold of a person that doesn’t have or match his skin tone. Whether intentional or not, it’s definitely a form of blackface.”
Okay, so next you’re gonna tell me if I cosplay as Bossk it’s racist to Asians because my skin isn’t yellow.
— Joshua Williamson (@DatboyKilljoy) October 10, 2019
EuroCosplay has not responded to the backlash they have received as a result of their decision.