Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Almost Tuesday: Halloween Costume Tips

Another week, another live Chronicle of Nonsense. In this, we discuss Halloween Costume Etiquette. Enjoy!

WOODY: Halloween is coming! Are you excited?
CHRIS: Oh yeah, I love Halloween, but it can be a little bit stressful for folks of my ilk. This is also the time of year when you really get to assess who your friends are. Gene Demby of NPR fame calls Halloween “#BlackFaceChristmas”.
WOODY: Oh, right. There’s always a story about an unfortunate incident at a party. Well, what can everyone do to be better costumed citizens?
CHRIS: I’m glad you asked that, Woody! Because today is the day I give my annual Multicultural Halloween Tips to Not Get Punched in the Face™!
WOODY: I love this annual segment…that just started today! What do you have for me this
CHRIS: First tip: Ask yourself if you need to paint your face to be a certain character. If you need brown or black makeup, and you’re not a Hershey’s bar or a hockey puck, then DON’T BE THAT CHARACTER.
WOODY: But what if you want to emulate a certain star or music artist?
CHRIS: You can dress like anyone, and people will get it. Do you like Lil’ Wayne? Put on the locks, paint on the face tattoos, and people will get it. At worst, if you’re really pale, say you’re Ghost of Carter.
WOODY: So OBVIOUSLY going full Al Jolson is out.
CHRIS: CORRECT. In a perfect world, one could do whatever they want and not offend anyone. Sadly, painting your face to be a different race has been ruined by 300 years of slavery, 100 years of Jim Crow, 100 years of lynching, and 200 years of mockery and caricature in theatre and cinema.
WOODY: That is too bad. I wanted to be Michael Jackson for Halloween.
CHRIS: Well good news, Woody! You CAN be Michael Jackson for Halloween! Just make sure you’re 1987-2009 Michael Jackson, not 1958-1986 Michael Jackson. Mr. Jackson, whether he meant to or
not, has bestowed upon us a way for EVERYONE to emulate him for a costume. Thanks to Thriller, you can even be ZOMBIE Michael Jackson!
WOODY: It truly DOESN’T matter if you’re black or white!
CHRIS: Or undead!
WOODY: OK, so here’s a sticky one. My friend said she was putting together a Rachel Dolezal costume…
CHRIS: No bronzer.
WOODY: Fair enough.
CHRIS: Second tip: If England or Spain ever invaded them, DON’T BE THEM.
WOODY: Whoa, that’s a lot. That covers most of Africa, Asia, North America, South America…pretty much everywhere except Antarctica!
CHRIS: True. You can still be a penguin with impunity.  It’s just the Spirit Halloween costumes with every negative stereotype in the costume bag, it looks like a racist Lunchable®, and probably just as unhealthy. There is an exception: characters from movies and video games might work. I’m thinking Prince of Persia, some Altair from Assassin’s Creed, Jafar from Aladdin, even Mulan or that dragon from Mulan…If Hollywood cast a white actor to portray the character, you might be safe.
WOODY: Got it. How about Pocahontas?
CHRIS: How about Nocahontas? That leads to Tip #3: Lay off the Native American costumes, at least for a year. For one thing, haven’t they suffered enough? Ever since Columbus, it’s just been a cavalcade of abuses, from disease to forced relocation to genocide to offensive sports team names. For another, costume kit/racist Lunchables don’t delineate between different TYPES of Natives. There will be a Chocktaw arm band with Sioux headdress with Seneca footwear...It would be like someone going out wear a Viking helmet, a kilt, and lederhosen!
WOODY: Oh, like a Denver Broncos fan!
CHRIS: Exactly! No one wants to see that! Not even Denveroos ("Denvarians"?)!
WOODY: I get it now. Say, what do you think of all of the “sexy” costumes out there?
CHRIS: That is actually my Tip #4: Ladies: Do you. Be Sexy Bert and Ernie. Be Sexy Ninja Turtle. Be Sexy Pizza Rat.
WOODY: What! Sexy Pizza Rat!
CHRIS: It exists, trust me.
WOODY: But aren’t these “sexy” costumes just exploitative ways to get women to show skin?
CHRIS: It depends on who holds the power. This country is so uptight about anything sexual, yet they use sex in advertising EVERYTHING. We fetishize breasts to the point that people get harassed breastfeeding their children, which is WHAT BREASTS ARE FOR. We shame women who date a lot but don’t get married. We act like divorced women are “damaged goods”. All this, while using women (or more specifically, their body parts) to sell everything from yogurt to cars to M&Ms.
WOODY: By the way, Sexy M&M costume?
CHRIS: Yeah. Pretty hot. Anyway, I feel like women should have a day that they can express themselves, and if that means feeling sexy without undue judgement, then let it be. Dan Savage once called Halloween “Straight Pride Weekend”, because that is the only day that straight people can explicitly express themselves without the being judged, so everyone should express themselves!
WOODY: That sounds fair.
CHRIS: I do have a corollary for the ladies: Smart it up a little! Why only be a “sexy” piece of candy or
cartoon character or inanimate object? If you WANT to be a “sexy” character, how about being a Sexy Ida B. Wells or Marie Curie? Be a PhD graduate, or astronomer!
WOODY: Ooh! A Sexy Mae Jemison!
CHRIS: Sexy Ruth Baider Ginsberg!
WOODY: Sexy Ada Lovelace!
CHRIS: Sexy Mary Shelly!
WOODY: So for the Queen of Sheba-
CHRIS: No face paint.
WOODY: Right.

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