24 October 2007

Halloween Culture: Mass Murderer: Okay! Nazi: Taboo!

Aside from the iPod and Sponge Bob costumes, and oh yeah, the skimpy french maid costumes, Halloween costumes are supposed to be scary! Right...?

Not so fast! I'm sure you all remember the stink over Prince Harry's Nazi Costume. Or perhaps you heard about those unclassy UVA students that showed up to a party in black face. So what exactly is okay to wear and what isn't? First glance tells us to shy away from anything racially insensitive or that is reminiscent of historical tragedies.

But there are clearly exceptions... although not everyone will find these costumes tasteful, they are readily available on the internet and in costume stores (a costume store would be unlikely to stock a costume that most people found objectionable).

1. Indian - May be considered different than black face, because you are simply wearing the costume not usually coloring your skin. But otherwise, wearing this costume is tantamount to claiming Indians were savages. That mind set caused the U.S. to steal their lands and kill them and generally disrespect them.
2. Pimp - Often seen in society as taking advantage of and oppressing women, yet it is classic on Halloween.
3. Convict (especially in chains) - Ostensibly for committing an egregious crime, likely armed robbery, rape, or murder.
4. Jack the Ripper - Probably the closest you'll come to a real historically identifiable murderer on Halloween that is still considered acceptable.
5. Pirates, Gangsters - Both involved in stealing from and killing real people.
6. Devil - Okay, so this one is only offensive if you believe in the devil. But if you do, then this should really be the worst of all of them, right? He will destroy your soul, which is infinitely more important than your life. Yet this is probably the most common costume, even among Christians that celebrate Halloween.


Jeff Shepley said...

I've been informed that Nazi costumes are actually quite common.

Chris said...

I think it can be boiled down to "recent" or "not recent" references. You can't do racist things because it's still a problem society has today. You would be mercilessly harangued for dressing up as a member of the Taliban for the same reason. You could dress up as a Nazi or Viet Cong fighter without much issue though.