Dress Up Or Dress Down: Hallowe’en costumes

Hallowe’en is and has always been my favourite holiday.  Prior to transitioning, Hallowe’en was one of the few times (if not the only time) of the year when I could let loose and show my real self in a non-judgemental atmosphere.  I suspect the same is true for many other people, for the LGBTQIA community and others.

That said, tasteless costumes were never on my list.  I only time I ever considered a potentially offensive costume, I never went through with it (think “Blazing Saddles”).  One would think that as society becomes more enlightened, offensive costumes would become less popular.

Instead, the bigots of all stripes and stenches see Hallowe’en as an excuse to deliberately insult and be confrontational, to say others “can’t take a joke”, are “over-sensitive SJWs”.  As Niki Massey noted in her final blog post, some people have the gall to publicly and intentionally mock serious issues.  They are only “edgy” if that mean they stuck in a knife and twisted it.

It wouldn’t surprise me if those who defend and excuse racist, ableist and other offensive costumes turn out to be hypocrites, that they call it “inappropriate” to mock military or other uniforms (e.g. a male “sexy firefighter” costume consisting of tight pants, fire coat and helmet; or pink camo print army fatigues).  Odds are, they also defend the policy at conventions like GenCon which say “No military uniforms unless you are in active service”, rules which often don’t allow military cosplay by those not in the military.

If mocking a military uniform is “offensive”, how is mocking people’s lives “not offensive”?  It is a choice to become a cop or a soldier.  A person’s skin colour, disability, sexual identity, sexual orientation or visible appearance are not choices and should not be mocked.

Stealing ideas others write recently, this is a last minute, cobbled together view/thought on which costumes are off limits:

  1. Anything that is part of others’ daily lives or ancestry (i.e. cultural appropriation, racism, stereotyping, ableism).
  2. Anything that celebrates or makes light of crimes past or present (i.e. Nazi uniforms, cops murdering black people).
  3. Anything that intentionally pushes others’ buttons (i.e. topical or political events – no Trump “rape jokes”, no Kim Kardashian robbery references).

I wouldn’t claim this to be all people, it’s an idea that needs improvement and then fine tuning.  But a costume policy for parties and events is as important as an anti-harassment policy.  Or have cosplay conventions already put together good policies through years of experience?

The impetus for this post was a recent Buzzfeed item about a woman with body scarring after an assault by an ex-boyfriend.  She made the valid point that even mocked up bodily injuries or scarring (both a common Hallowe’en makeup effect) can be offensive to some people.  Now I see Freddy Kruger as a questionable costume.


    • intransitive says

      I have never done cosplay before. Niki Massey was very much into it, so in memory of her I will for the first time. (The pics will be private, if there are any.)