Tomorrow is the big day.
Come sundown on the 31st, millions of children around the West will don their carefully prepared, or perhaps hastily thrown together, costumes and parade door-to-door collecting as much candy as their pots can possibly hold. Teenagers and young adults will attend parties as pop culture icons and political figures, looking to make a statement or generate a few easy laughs. Some people will go out of their way to be as terrifying as possible in the true spirit of the holiday.
But perhaps the most terrifying costumes this year won’t be those of ghouls, witches, brain eating zombies, and monsters drenched in blood; they’ll be those crafted of racism and cultural appropriation, sexism, transphobia, fatphobia, and just about every other “-phobia” you can think of.
Already, there’s a lengthy blacklist for Halloween ’15. As per the Daily Mail,
“With Halloween just around the corner, many costume companies are eagerly cashing in on the most divisive topics in this year’s news canon – and in the most horrifying ways possible. Among the big hitters: a bloody tampon outfit inspired by Megyn Kelly’s stand-off with Donald Trump, a unisex ‘Caitlyn Gender’ ensemble and a ‘Pot for Tots’ baby onesie in the shape of a marijuana leaf“.
Also on the list? Ahmed “clock boy” Mohamed, “Cecil the Lion killer”, and the classic Native American ensemble.
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Allow me to be the first to admit I laughed — and why shouldn’t I have? It’s easy to see the humour when you neglect to subscribe to the School of Perpetual Offence. So entrenched in political correctness is our society that the baby costumes below would surely result in a visit from child protective services. Personally? I had tears streaming down my face:
And the Native American get-ups? The princesses who conform to gender roles, the ableist superheroes, the racist police officers, the fatphobic fat suits? Who cares?
There is no such thing as a universally offensive idea. With 8 billion people on this planet, there will always be somebody who isn’t offended for every person that is. To begin asserting we should censure ourselves on Halloween lest we offend someone’s delicate sensitivities, then, has less to do with whether or not a costume is offensive and more to do with tightening the reigns of freedom of expression and coddling a generation brought up to accuse their own shadows of privilege and appropriation. Because what constitutes an “offensive” concept varies widely depending on the individual’s personal views, the only way to ensure nobody is offended is to ban Halloween outright. While we’re at it, scrapping the First Amendment seems like a fine plan, too. Walmart has the right idea; via Bloomberg,
“‘We want Halloween to be fun and to be a surprise. But we don’t want to belittle serious incidents,’ said Bao Nguyen, head of media relations for Wal-Mart Global eCommere in San Bruno, Calif., where a dozen employees take the lead on hunting down offensive products. ‘We do not want to offend anyone, especially during Halloween.’The Wal-Mart compliance team doesn’t simply react whenever a product provokes a public backlash. Each day, often with Nguyen’s help, the group scours headlines and online products to identify items that might become newly offensive in light of the day’s news. It’s a responsibility that extends beyond Halloween. Nguyen says the team was among the first to begin pulling items depicting the Confederate flag in June after the gunman who killed nine worshipers in a black church was seen displaying the flag on social media”.
Furiously rotating the crank on the outrage machine creates more problems than it allegedly seeks to solve. Kicking up a fuss by stamping your feet and crying about how racist and insensitive everyone is serves only to further divide people and draw attention to the costumes in question. If the goal is to eliminate something from society, wouldn’t it be better off ignored rather than scoring someone a headline news spot?
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Halloween isn’t for the eternally outraged. It’s not for the spineless and the faint of heart. It doesn’t exist so those who fancy themselves veteran officers of the Politically Correct Task Force can swoop in and arrest anyone whose costume might make someone with no backbone sad.
If that sounds like a pretty accurate description of your feelings regarding Halloween, do the rest of us a favour:
Turn off your lights and stay indoors.
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