Archive - Oct 2013

October 30th

Hallowhat The Fuck?

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Memo to America: WHY AM I TELLING YOU THIS?

Happy Halloween! It's about candy, and costumes, and Satan, and costumes, and trick-or-treating, and costumes, and pumpkins, and costumes. And since this is America, that means I have to ask you, kindly, not to put on a racist costume this Halloween.

Sure, you'd think, in the year 2013, three years after we discovered a monolith on Jupiter and six years from when four Nexus-7 replicants run amok in Los Angeles, that I wouldn't have to remind you all that, when choosing a Halloween costume this year, fucking well eschew racism. But that is not the case.

And it's not just about blackface, although, again, inexplicably, it's still partially about blackface. I'm not sure how we've lost the thread on the whole "blackface is a bad idea" thing, but we are going to have to take that into account.

There are three basic categories of racist costumes to avoid at all costs. This means you, white people.

GENERICALLY RACIST CARICATURES:

This is the most obvious one. If you find yourself thinking of costume ideas and settling on "slave", or "border jumper", or "terrorist", or "welfare queen", or "gangsta rapper", just stop. With or without blackface, just stop.

Similarly, if you want to go as a convict, or a bank robber, or some other negatively-viewed occupation, and you think you need blackface in order to pull it off, stop. Just stop. Then choke on candy corn and die. Thanks.

It should go without saying that you shouldn't actually use as your costume the classic shoe-polish blackface look of the old-timey minstrel show, but what in today's column shouldn't have gone without saying? None of it, that's what.

SPECIFICALLY RACIST CARICATURES:

This is when you dress up as a person from another race who you don't like for various reason, and you adopt various racist caricatures and makeup to mock them. In the past, this might have been a Don King, or an Osama Bin Laden.

This year, of course, the go-to is Trayvon Martin, reviled by millions of right-wing white people for violently hurling his Skittles-fueled body in front of George Zimmerman's innocent bullets.

Like the previous one, this category doesn't need blackface to be horrible and racist, but that doesn't stop people from doing it anyway. In the specific case that came to my attention, people in motherfucking Florida, of course, but I know they're not the only ones. Let's hope these people in their hoodies and blackface encounter some overzealous neighborhood watch types when they go trick or treating. Because you're still a thug in Geraldo Rivera's eyes, even if you're only armed with a fun size bag of Skittles.

HISTORICALLY INSENSITIVE SPECIFIC COSTUMES:

Also known as the Julianna Hough Memorial Category. Basically, you're a white person, you like a black celebrity or fictional character, you dress up as them, and, in ignorance of history that's a lot more recent than you'd fucking think, darken your skin in order to make the costume "better".

This is also known, during the rest of the year, as "being made somewhat uncomfortable by Billy Crystal as Sammy Davis Jr."

And I get it. I dressed up as Freakazoid once, back when I had a body type that was a bit more conducive to pulling it off, and I went in blueface. And I could do that, because, well, there is no long, shameful cultural history of us oppressing blue people and mocking them as happy, dancing fools and servants.

So, yeah. Your intent may be to pay homage to, say, "Orange Is The New Black", that doesn't come from a racist motive, but by not realizing how offensive "White Is The New Black" has been for decades, you're part of the problem. So cut it the fuck out and at least read the Wikipedia article on "minstrel shows". Then, if you still want to be part of that tradition, well, I've got some extra candy corn lying around.