Twitch has issued a 30 day ban to Karina 'Karupups' Martsinkevich after she put on blackface in her cosplay of Apex Legends' Lifeline.
In a recent stream Martsinkevich was showing her viewers the work that goes into a cosplay. She had dyed her hair, put on the costume, and then began applying a dark foundation to mimic Lifeline's skin.
Before the stream had ended, Twitch shut it down and issued Martsinkevich with a 30 day ban.
Martsinkevich posted a video on YouTube, saying in it she didn't realise the racist history of blackface and "My cosplay [wasn't] meant to be painful for anyone. Please let me highlight that it was just for fun, I just wanted to change into my favorite Legend from the game."
However, while Martsinkevich may not have been aware of the insensitivity of blackface, it's a practice that has a long history. Since the 1800s, white actors would put on boot polish or blacken their faces with ash, to play black people. They would then perform in exaggerated stereotypes, most famously in minstrel shows. There was a scene in the 1950s-set Mad Men, in which one character wears blackface before singing 'Boxcar Willie':
Despite the ban and the apology video on Youtube, Martsinkevich has since posted a picture of her in here Lifeline cosplay on 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," Martsinkevich writes (translated via Google Translate). "If a cosplayer requires a character, it will turn its color, if necessary, it will turn green to green if necessary."
Blackface is controversial in the cosplay community. While cosplayers are celebrated for the accuracy of their portrayals, and cosplayers are free to change their skin colour to match the alien reds, greens, and blues of sci fi characters, wearing blackface isn't permitted. Another cosplayer, Kay Bear explains why:Have you ever tried to cosplay? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter.