I’m really fascinated by any artist who performs in a mask. Daft Punk point out a few good ideas in this profile in Pitchfork. One of the most interesting ideas is their reference to the wage-serf people under the theme park costumes. Ryan Dombal:
THE PYRAMID BLOWOUT WAS AKIN to your typical rock star extravaganza in scale and scope, but also laced with the more inclusive and diffusive aspects of traditional DJ gigs, where everyone’s the star. It put Daft Punk in a unique position within contemporary music’s personality-driven ecosystem: legitimately famous and faceless. To this point, Bangalter compares their situation to Batman (“we feel that the pyramid was like our Batmobile”), Cinderella (“after the show is over, we go back to anonymity and normality”), the Wizard of Oz (“we’re just guys behind a curtain pushing the knobs and creating the spectacle”), and a dude in a Mickey Mouse costume at Disney World (“if you have 100 kids around you all day long, are you not becoming big-headed?”). Their mechanized identities also act as a buffer for the out-of-control egomania that could result from a sea of people losing their shit in your general direction as you stand over them from the apex of a million-watt triangle.
I remember getting a series of photos with oversized plush Shaggy and Scooby characters in some upstate New York theme park. Upon reflection, it was one of the most one-directional emotional exchanges I’ve ever had in a commercial setting.
I gushed to these paid actors. I talked about how many days after school I had scrambled home to watch Scooby Doo during the days of three channels. I’m sure I wasn’t alone — in essence these workers accepted adoration while cooking in the suits.
Here is Peter Mandel in a witty overview of what it is like inside the suit. He volunteers to wear a plush costume (Patrick from Spongebob Squarepants) for a day in a theme park.
1:35 p.m. I step into giant fuzzy leg pods and pull up my mesh-style underwear and suspenders. Next come a pair of massive pea-green pantaloons.
Patrick’s head and body unit is heavy — under the pink fuzz there’s a structural shell. I need help from Vest and an assistant to hoist it over my head and get my arms through the knapsack-style harness inside.
SpongeBob’s suit, I’m told, is equipped with a personal fan. Nothing fancy like that in mine. It’s like a tropical evening in here: dim, roughly the color of sunset, scraps of thread and duct tape hanging limp in the humid air.
As a final touch, I attach some Velcro straps and slide my arms into the arm pods, which I try to flap using subway-style fabric straps. Voila.
2:25 p.m. Vest and her assistant explain the rules. No talking in the suit. No food. No gum. No running. No signing autographs (how could you grip a pen with a flipper?). And no embellishing the costume.
“Once SpongeBob came out with a bracelet on,” explains Vest, “that’s supposed to go with Dino from the Flintstones. Someone was like, ‘Hey, look, SpongeBob has bling!’ I had him back in the shack in two seconds.”