Friday, October 30, 2009

Are Halloween costumes more than just a holiday fad?

Ah, the infamous orange jumpsuit… Simultaneously, a prison garb, Halloween costume, and a protester’s fashion statement. Following the Abu Ghraib scandals and controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay, the orange jumpsuit underwent a fashion makeover and transformed from a mere Halloween gag to a stylish political mockery. Can a Halloween costume actually have a detrimental effect on society worthy of taking offense? How far will a person push the limits of his/her costume before they become offensive to someone else? The orange jumpsuit continues to evolve and proves to be exceptionally versatile since developing into the latest Halloween craze, a gross depiction of an “illegal alien.”

The “illegal alien” costume idea stems from a similar line of Halloween attire that mock anything and everything from over-size sombreros and ponchos to fake beards and a turban. During Halloween time people always find it as an excuse to play dress-up and mock another’s religion, ethnicity, or culture.

Naturally, many spoke out against the costume claiming it is racist and simply perpetuates a false stereotype of immigrants. Chicago’s own Jorge Mujica, affiliated with the March 10th Committee, condemns the costume because it presents a mockery. The Coalition for Humane Immigrants has taken the offense a step further by petitioning major retailers like Target to stop marketing the costume.

Apparently, the pressure from outraged customers and immigration reform organizations has successfully halted sales of the costume at Target. However, other prominent corporations including Walgreen’s, Wal-Mart, and have yet to publically declare their position towards selling the costume.

After 9/11 people began parading around wearing Osama Bin Laden costumes and fake terrorist uniforms during Halloween. Imagine a Muslim person answering the door to a bunch of youths dressed up as terrorists. How would this person respond to such a shock? HA! The Muslim would laugh off the insulting masquerade, and hand them some candy. Or, do the adolescents and their parents, or better yet the major Halloween retailers need to be taught a lesson about insensitivity and offensive costumes?

Whether or not a person can take a joke is arguably irrelevant within the context of Halloween. Will allowing controversial costumes like the “illegal alien” to stay on the market perpetuate the existence of degrading stereotypes? Or, can we just ignore the insult and enjoy some candy?

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