what do costumes mean?

slightly off-topic, but only slightly. i’ve been exploring what pageantry and multiculturalism and masks and costumes “mean”, and provide, and encourage, and this certainly does fit into that, although not related to krampus.

through an adoptive parent friend on FB, i saw this image last night.

and i answered back with cracked’s “thirty five most insane halloween costumes from around the world”, which features these gems:

by the time morning had hit, the “it’s a culture not a costume” graphics had hit many more of the sociology/multiculturalism feeds i get on FB. now that i’ve seen a few more of the images, i wonder why everyone is choosing the geisha one in particular, but my stance is still the same:

i’m not saying it’s a great, or good, or even nice idea to dress in a very stereotyped and possibly unattractive way for halloween. but if you think a little harder about the uses of pageantry throughout the ages, and try to make the connection between modern halloween and what pageant represents in culture… do you really want to walk around finger-wagging over the one date in our calendar when we are really supposed to flaunt all that is fearful and anathema?

ok — right. we should not be seeing something as simple as “people who are different from us” as fearful or anathema. but what in the world gets produced when people who ARE different from us just scream BACK OFF at even the most primitive attempts to explore them? OF COURSE many people who wear these costumes are TRYING to be assholes. let them show themselves as such! don’t TELL them how to pass for acceptable by plastering the internet with pictures of grieving teenagers who really don’t need to give a rat’s ass about what anybody is wearing for halloween.

furthermore: if the “don’t tell women what not to wear, tell men not to rape” stance is so popular — and correct — what then is the problem with also teaching “don’t tell assholes not to be assholes (because they probably won’t listen to you anyway), but instead YOU learn not to let the turkeys get you down — because these are some low-level turkeys, and that’s a good place to start.” some fat idiot in a pancho villa costume should turn a child into a mournful mess? i expect my children to be stronger than that. they will have to be, to thrive in this world.

in general i don’t like campaigns that try to make other people change their ways. you can almost bet on it being a losing battle. but this campaign tells kids to personalize something that they really don’t have to personalize. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt.

this is NOT about saying these costumes are “correct”. it is NOT saying that they don’t invite discussion. it is NOT saying that they might not make someone feel bad and it is CERTAINLY not saying that they don’t in some cases INTEND to make someone feel bad. but i think this campaign, with it’s sad-faced not-white kids, teaches these kids to act like victims of useless jackasses. can you picture any white OR black american kid you know getting “offended” by the japanese “michael jackson” costume, or some of the others pictured in the cracked article?

well, the comments in the UK’s daily mail say it all, really.
they make me happy, not because they make it clear i’m not the only one who feels this campaign is dumb — because i imagine that these comments are made by people a good bit younger than myself, and i’m happy to know they aren’t out there crying over something so ridiculous as this campaign apparently hopes to train other kids to do.