By Chris Hoenig
Some of the best Halloween costumes are the most topical: dressing up as the sports star of the moment or one of the actors in that year’s Hollywood blockbuster are almost surefire hits. But so are some of the worst, and one of this year’s costumes is getting extra attention.
The viral photos show three young adults, including two men portraying George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. One is wearing a “Neighborhood Watch” T-shirt, the other is in Blackface and wearing a large gray hoodie with blood splattered on the chest. In one picture, the trio are all smiles … as the Zimmerman character points his fingers like a gun at his Martin-portraying friend.
The young woman in the photos found them funny enough to post a series of them to Instagram and Facebook, though her Facebook page has since been deleted. Oh, yeah, they’re from Florida, where Martin’s death led to protests and where the public lambasted the prosecutors after Zimmerman’s acquittal.
It doesn’t take a whole lot of thought to realize Blackface is racist. But then again, maybe someone should have let Dancing With the Stars regular Julianne Hough know that before she went out dressed as Crazy Eyes from Orange Is the New Black, complete with Blackface. Hough has since taken to Twitter to apologize.
I am a huge fan of the show Orange is the New black, actress Uzo Aduba, and the character she has created. (cont) http://t.co/z5guo2Ogfi
— Julianne Hough (@juliannehough) October 26, 2013
Someone with the NBA’s Utah Jazz also must not have thought too much about it before posting a picture to the team’s official Twitter feed that included a white fan in full Blackface as Hall of Famer Karl Malone. Some high-school football coaches from San Diego also took the same liberties when they dressed up as the Jamaican bobsled team.
And then, as if trying to outdo every other racist and offensive costume out there, there are the pictures that emerged on the “BlackinAsia” tumblr account from a party in Australia. Asked to arrive in African-themed costumes, Blackfaced individuals were joined by gorillas … and posed with people dressed as Ku Klux Klansmen. The girl who posted them has tried to defend the pictures—which Facebook did not immediately take down and which one friend found “only slightly racist hahaha.”
Halloween costumes exist that find ways to offend just about every underrepresented group. Pottery Barn has apologized and pulled a sushi-chef costume that included a Japanese-flag bandanna, as well as a kimono. In 2009, an “illegal alien” costume consisting of an orange prison jumpsuit and “green card” created controversy. While that one is no longer on the shelves, the “Hey Amigo” costume, complete with poncho and donkey outfit, is easily found online. The “sexy Pocahontas” costume is a regular that returns every year to insult American Indians.
Even Americans with disabilities are not off limits from being insultingly mocked each Halloween. The Toronto Sun suggests a costume that takes a dig at actress Amanda Bynes and her mental-health issues is one of the “best 2013 Halloween costumes from pop culture.” The “Anna Rexia” costume that pokes fun at eating disorders has made a comeback after controversy took it off the shelves. And then there’s the Christopher Reeves Superman-in-a-wheelchair costume.
Have fun this Halloween and enjoy the candy. But think before you get dressed.