Halloween costumes shouldn’t be taken so seriously
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 08:10
There were the typical cats, referees, cowboys, witches, flappers and basketball players all gallivanting downtown this weekend, happy and on their way to a multitude of parties celebrating a holiday that allows us to become someone we’re not, if only for just a night. But intermixed with these more innocuous costumes were the more risqué outfits – and not just because of their short hemlines or low-cut tops.
The general idea of a holiday around the end of October has been around since the Iron Age, where people celebrated the end of fall and the beginning of the winter season. Costumes have only been a part of the equation since the late 1800s, and mass-produced costumes have been manufactured since the Depression era. And while Halloween has never been considered the most wholesome of holidays as a result of supposedly promoting ideas of demons and witchcraft, these days blasphemy isn’t the only thing throwing Halloween under the bus – racism is.
Costumes depicting a certain culture aren’t all that uncommon – we’ve all seen geishas, Eskimos, Native Americans and pharaohs roaming the streets of Morgantown, looking for fun. However, certain cultures have started speaking out against some of these costumes, as they claim the costumes support an image or stereotype that is offensive. Students at Ohio University have even started a campaign against donning ethnic costumes and made statements such as "we are a culture, not a costume."
And certain examples of racist costumes have been cropping up in the news lately, from the "ghetto fabulous" wig of dark, curly hair to the "illegal alien" costume (which comes complete with an alien mask, a bushy mustache and a green card). It’s understandable that there really are some costumes that cross the line.
But for every average German beer girl outfit, there is also a crayon or referee to offset the offensiveness. Angels and gypsies are about equal in popularity, though only the latter is considered distasteful.
The arbitrary nature of the costumes seen around the 31st only promotes the idea that these choices are random. College students do not purposely choose to be a gladiator to promote a stereotype that all Romans are bloodthirsty fighters, just like wearing an eye patch and a bandana doesn’t mean the wearer is making a statement about the vulgarity of pirates.
These are all just costumes. People pick them because they are easy or creative or simply because they like ninjas or watched Braveheart one too many times and have no qualms about donning a Scottish kilt. The people behind these costumes do not consider them offensive, and that’s exactly why they aren’t offensive.
The intent of these outfits is not one of racism or malice. Students wearing ethnic costumes aren’t trying to make a statement about a culture or promote a stereotype. They are trying to have fun, just like the superheroes and cheerleaders and other inoffensive costumes seen around town.
Halloween is supposed to be taken lightly. It should be a celebration of pranks and a way of playing dress-up well into your 20s. By tacking on serious issues like racism to something as completely harmless as a costume, the whole carefree attitude of the holiday is diminished. Racism and stereotyping are real issues, but they have little to no place on such a lighthearted holiday.
So wear your costumes, whatever they may be, and have fun. And if you happen to be in the downtown area on the 31st, I’ll be the one in the "offensive" Marie Antoinette costume.