Memo: Offensive Halloween Costumes Are Not Funny

Written on October 31, 2013 at 3:13 pm , by

Julianne Hough (second from the right) dressed as Crazy Eyes from “Orange Is the New Black.”

This morning I put the finishing touches on a set of wings for my 12-year-old, who will be trick-or-treating as an angel alongside her BFF, the devil. [Note: The wings were made out of cardboard covered with folded flat-bottomed coffee filters, which look amazingly featherlike.] I’m lucky that she’s a good kid—sweet, smart and so far immune to the usual tween-teen problems. She’s no mean girl, nor is she bullied. Her good friends include boys as well as girls. She doesn’t obsess over clothes, hair or having a thigh gap. She thinks Miley Cyrus is silly and kind of dumb.

Which brings me to the latest Halloween costume outrages of 2013. That is, Julianne Hough partying in blackface as Crazy Eyes from Orange Is the New Black and Florida dudes Greg Cimeno and William Filene, who decided it would be “f—ing hilarious” to dress up as George Zimmerman and a murdered Trayvon Martin, then posted pics of themselves on Facebook. Julianne was needlessly insensitive and racist—and she’s since apologized. The other two went way beyond that, making a mockery out of a profound tragedy, and they still don’t get it.

I don’t know whether I’m going to talk about this with my daughter tonight as we plow through her chocolate stash. She doesn’t need the ethics lesson, and it all seems so obvious. Blackface, or yellow or brown, is never okay. Making fun of someone’s death, not to mention one so fraught and controversial as Trayvon’s, is never okay. But clearly there are folks who haven’t gotten the memo, and I’ll probably drive home the point to her anyway. Are you in with me?



18 Responses to “Memo: Offensive Halloween Costumes Are Not Funny”

  1. Frankly, given the zeal with which we incarcerate people who should be free, prison jumpsuits as Halloween costumes are pretty goddamn offensive too.

  2. What about Eddie Murphy pretending to be a Jewish white man in the movie “Coming to America?” (In my opinion, his best movie.)
    How come that’s ok, but if the reverse happens it’s “racist?”

    At least she didn’t paint her lips all white, and crap. Then I’d find it more offensive personally.

  3. I find no offense to wearing black face. I do it fairly frequently, more than one probably needs to. Racism is a choice. People in today’s society take things too seriously. I have a diverse group of friends and I find that a person can probably take this as lighthearted, but PEOPLE will destroy the very essence of this message, which was have fun and live for today.

  4. According to witnesses, all the cops and the jury, Martin was not murdered, but was killed in self-defense after he feloniously attacked Zimmerman and was in the process of beating him to death. Not saying those costumes are OK, just correcting the error in the article.

  5. You realize your talking about offensive costumes while the girl your daughter is trick or treating with is dressing up as the devil. Wow, I don’t mean to sound extremist but that is totally hypocritical.

  6. If you don’t understand the difference between “blackface” and using makeup to more closely resemble a character, then I can’t take your article seriously. Tinting your skin simply for the sake of a more accurate portrayal is no different than dying your hair or wearing a certain color of clothing.

  7. Anonymity has truly brought the racist out of all of you “brave” people.

  8. Sure this is so very offensive (not) but teaching children to dress as sluts and prostitutes isn’t worthy of comment. You can’t pickup a newspaper without being exposed to this in Halloween costume advertisements.

  9. Don J. acts as if there’s something wrong with racism. Sorry, Don, it’s not bad. It’s simply one way of categorizing people.

    For examples, observe the stereotype of really smart people who have no common sense. Those people can’t help who they are, either. … and don’t whine to me, “It’s not the same thing.” No rational argument against your position is ever “the right thing.”

  10. SNL had Fred Armisen playing Barack Obama for years. Was that not offensive because Obama is light-skinned black, or because he’s part white? Maybe its just because stupid people aren’t up that late.

  11. Yes, yes it is…it has always been funny and it will always BE funny…If you or anyone else find anything whatsoever offensive in life then please, by all means look away but do not force your tightassed opinions on the rest of us. Frankly it is getting very, very OLD.
    Live and let live.

  12. You people need to lighten the fuck up.

  13. buhahaha! I found the comments to much more interesting then the article.

  14. here’s a new rule. If you personally are offended then you can speak for yourself. But you no longer get to claim to be offended on behalf of anybody else. Whatever they do, whoever they are, they can speak for themselves and don’t want your help. Some of them might even have a sense of humor.

  15. I’m not with you. I’m black and I found nothing wrong with this. I hate when other people try to do my thinking for me. She dressed up as a character who’s of a darker skin color than she is. Why is it some mark of shame that I have to be offended that someone dressed up as a character who happens to share my ethnicity?

  16. Last time I checked this was a free country. I am sure you never wrote an article lamenting how white men are almost always portrayed as stupid, inadequate and socially inferior retardates and buffoons in comparison to black men in every single commercial. The people who hold the real power in amerikuh, the real rulers are the ones you don’t get to make fun of because you will lose your livelihood over mocking; gays, blacks and jews.

  17. What is wrong with you? You DO know that the show is a work of fiction right? “Crazy Eyes” is not a person, it is a fictional character being depicted by an ACTOR. NOONE DIED. If you cannot separate reality from fiction, you should seek immediate mental help.

    For EVERYONE: Changing your appearance to look like someone else is not raciest. The character she was attempting to portray happened to be of another race, and the genetic consequences of that is a radical completion adjustment. I don’t hear anyone crying “SEXIST” over the girl portraying the male guard despite the fake mustache… I see your “Blackface, or yellow or brown, is never okay”, is it OK if they portray “Whiteface”? or is it impossible to be raciest AGENST “white” people? The depiction did not belittle the race, and if the intent was not derogatory, then the act was not raciest.

    It is NOT the obligation of any citizen to avoid offending others. While it may be a moral constraint to avoid reasonable offences as a general guideline, this cannot and SHOULD not by any means stifle communications or place unreasonable restrictions on any party. If the simple act of altering one’s appearance to appear to have more melanin content offends you, then perhaps you should question why it is that you are so offended by such an un-offensive act.

    REMEMBER: RACE does not exist. These lines of racial division are arbitrary constructs of illusion that are in a constant state of alteration and eventual dissipation. While certain physical traits remain visually evident in some cases, The difference in these illusionary races is no different then those of your immediate family and any other even of the same “race”. Physical traits that currently seem bound to one group will eventually be found in both given time and reproduction between groups.

  18. Why do you care what Julianne wears? This is free publicity for her. Are you her agent? LOL

    I agree with the post above by pestilence. Find something useful to talk about.