The Annual Halloween Parade of the Offended: Give It a Rest!

Posted on October 26, 2015


Dang, people, get a grip. If everyone who’s offended by some costume or other gets their way, there won’t be a Halloween at all anymore.

Apparently, 1 November is not the Day of the Dead in the US, nor is it All Saints’ Day. No, it is the Day to Be Righteously Offended About Other People’s Costumes From Last Night, and pretty much nothing is “safe” or inoffensive.

Last year was no exception.  We (I think “we” means white-bread people here) are not allowed to dress up in any kind of foreign clothing or cultural attire that is not our own. Check out young author Julia Schemmer at the Huffington Post, who wrote: “This Halloween, it’s time for us to ditch the kimono, the sari and the mariachi suit” and just about any other non-white-bread anything. Then Wal-Mart was blasted for – among other insulting things – offering a “Papa Pashtun” costume consisting of the typical shalwar kameez, vest, turban and fake beard (withdrawn with apologies after a hefty Twitter grilling calling it “racist”). Last year, one of the more heavily protested themes in this category was Native American anything, and for God’s sake, don’t even think about being Pocahontas, who used to be a real historical figure until Disney got hold of her (which actually does offend me a bit, along with other historical abuses like Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter).

We are especially not allowed to “mock religions” by dressing in foreign attire, even if we weren’t even thinking about religion in the first place. Check out the backlash against quasi-celebrity Scott Disick’s costume, which was basically the same dang thing almost all Saudi men wear: a white robe and the red-and-white checked keffiyeh.   One of the offended parties posted: “You can’t make a costume from a religion. Learn to respect religions and not mock them. Please.” No, no, Offended One, please explain what Saudi garb and an Arab-money reference have to do with religion AT ALL. NOTHING. But anyway, I guess this means no dressing up like priests or nuns or Friar Tuck, either. As Schemmer writes, “You wouldn’t have a “Dress like Jesus” or “Dress like Buddha” event…” Oh, wait, actually… as the Washington Post reports… Gene’s Costumes in Maryland actually did offer a Jesus costume, and yep, customer Julio Cesar Tovar was actually thinking of wearing it.

Hmmm, and what would Tovar consider too offensive, then? Ebola. And yet, the Ebola theme was “the overwhelming favorite” last year, writes Miles Parks for the Post. It would seem that there were an awful lot of offensive people out there, Lila included. (No one at the party I went to was offended; I guess I just hang out with equally-offensive people).

But it’s not just costumes based on current-events horrors that offend. Even the old standbys like devils or the heavily scarred and burned supernatural villain Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street will offend those who suffer from disfigurements or skin conditions. Writes Daniel Piotrowski for the Daily Mail: “A Melbourne woman with a rare skin condition which makes her appear bright red has labelled Halloween costumes with facial disfigurements ‘offensive’. Blogger Carly Findlay has urged Trick or Treaters not to wear ‘scary face’ costumes, such as Freddy Krueger and devil masks.” Well… I guess that also leaves out zombies, Frankenstein’s monster, and witches with big warts on their noses.

Dang, what’s left? Is everyone supposed to just be content to dress up as fluffy bunnies and ballerinas? Or will we then offend PETA and the American Ballet Company?

Come on, people. Get over yourselves. Halloween is the one night of the year when we are allowed to be something we’re not. The vast majority of participants are not out to insult anyone’s culture or religion or medical condition (I’d say no one is, but, well, there’s always one somewhere, isn’t there?). You’re not being made into a laughingstock or a victim by someone else’s Halloween costume.

I get it, really. Lord knows I am very touchy about people who wrongly wear the US military uniform, or claim military service they never performed; Lord knows I am even more touchy about military casualties of war. But Halloween is different. It’s not about claiming something that you are not; it’s open pretense, just dressing up for one night. So if someone wants to be a General, or a wounded soldier, or even a blood-soaked zombie soldier risen from the dead, have at it.

This year, just roll with it, people.