isn’t it just as bad to force the “black friend” into the black roll just because they are black. you say it would be fine if Ten was a black dude. Well what about a woman doctor? should they only be allowed to cosplay if there is a guy Rose?
You keep using words like “force” and “allow” and it leads me to believe you’re not understanding me. No one is forcing or allowing anyone to do anything, mostly because people have their own free will.
It is something that bothers me, and just like I have no power to stop them from doing so, they have no power to stop me from believing it’s a bit of a weak effort.
It bothers me to see a group Doctor Who costume in which Martha is played by a white lady not because it’s necessarily problematic (it’s a step forward that there’s a prominent, three-dimensional PoC character in a mainstream science fiction work that people are dressing as at all), but because it’s not as strong a concept. The racebent Doctor Who idea was just a suggestion for how to improve it as an idea. When I see a cosplayer with a marked visual difference from their character (i.e. race, age, or gender), generally I assume there’s some kind of concept at play to justify their choice of that character.
A female Doctor cosplayer would be a different matter because generally, in our society, women’s clothing and hairstyles are different than those for men, and so the concept is strong enough as is because it’s interesting to see how a male characters’ style is adapted onto a female canvas (not Lady Cassandra).
And just with the, um, rich history our country has of white people portraying PoC, seeing a Ten and Martha Jones cosplay in which both actors are white makes me feel like not a lot of thought was put into their choice of costumes. Again, I don’t know a lot about the cosplay community, this aspect just gives me a few ooks.
This whole idea reminds me of an episode of American Dad (bear with me) where the son and his friends are playing “Star Trek,” and his Japanese friend thanks him for not automatically casting him as Sulu. It then pans over to show one of their white friends pulling his eyes back (the way racists do) and saying “I’m Sulu!!” I’d say that the problem isn’t “making the black friend play the black role,” but the fact that there is only one black role for them to play. It’s the same problem I have with whitewashing in general. The reason a PoC can play a white character, but a white actor shouldn’t play a Character of Color, is that there’s an heavy imbalance in the white/non-white ratio in characters. There are dozens, possibly hundreds, of character options available to white cosplayers, but very few available to cosplayers of color.
That, in a nutshell, is why I’m okay with (for example) Grant Imahara dressing as Ten, but uncomfortable with a porcelain-skinned lady with light-brown hair dressing as Martha Jones.
The people I see dressing as Martha, other than clothing, generally have literally nothing else in common with the character’s appearance. Their field of “characters with whom I share literally no physical traits” is very small compared to that of ladies of color, so I find it frustrating when they dress as those characters anyway. If a black girl dressed as Rose Tyler, she would be bombarded with questions like “Why Not Martha?” and “So are you ‘Black Rose?’” I think it’s only fair, if those issues can’t be eliminated, that the same questions be asked in the reverse situation: “You look more like Rose. Why not dress as Rose?” and “So you’re ‘White Martha?’”
Basically, that original post was asking “Why not dress like someone who looks anything like you?” and “‘White Martha’ is a weak concept for a costume.”
The question doesn’t work in reverse, though, because there aren’t nearly enough characters in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Comic Books who look anything like people of color. Maybe if there were an equal number of costume opportunities for people of color it would make sense to ask why they don’t dress as a character who looks more like them, but until there’s an accurate representation of racial demographics on television and in film, that’s not going to happen.