NEW YORK (AP) — Who gets to decide what grown people wear for Halloween?
The Halloween wars focused on pop culture costumes have heated up early this year. Petitions and social media outrage are already flying over a blood-spattered dentist’s smock paired with a Cecil-like lion head, along with a replica of Caitlyn Jenner’s cream-colored corset set she wore for her joyful coming out on the cover of Vanity Fair.
But exactly how do the latest examples in the costume clashes for a holiday with a long, bawdy history differ from always off-base behavior like blackface, ala Julianne Hough, or Prince Harry’s turn as a non-Halloween Nazi?
Is the rule of “too soon” at play? Has the digital age spawned an overly politically correct genie with no immediate plans to be stuffed back in the bottle?
Richard Lachmann, a professor at the University of Albany who includes Halloween in his sociology of culture course, said costumes seem to be more provocative every year, with equally amped-up backlash. And there’s always a base of people who feel it’s an “irreligious pagan holiday to begin with and are ready to be upset,” he said.
Throw in a heavy dose of gore, loaded parody and ultra-sexy costumes, Lachmann added, and Halloween is now a free-for-all debate on decency and where the never-OK line belongs. But is there a line at all?
“It seems like there isn’t,” he said. “The point for adults is to be provocative, to do something that breaks the lines of what’s considered acceptable.”
The fashion and lifestyle site Refinery29 is one of many online voices decrying Jenner costumes and accessories, calling out one seller of a “Unisex Miss-ter Olympic Wig” that costs $14.99, in a recent update to a running attempt to take down the gear. Why?
Because as the writer, Liz Black, said in her post: “Every Halloween, there always seems to be a need for articles that explain why you shouldn’t dress up in a costume that mocks another marginalized culture.”