Long ago — when Halloween was for kids, not infantile adults — costumes were home-made, at least in my low-income South Bronx neighborhood.
No one had money for store-bought costumes, had they existed. At most you could get a cardboard face mask — a witch or a goblin or a ghoul or one of the Three Stooges, at the five and dime. (There were six Stooges all told, but this ain’t a history lesson.)
There were no 10,000-square-foot warehouse stores stuffed with costumes and effluent from China, which had rickshaws and no hypersonic guided missiles. Times have changed.
Back in the day, ghosts were popular costumes — Mom would cut eyeholes in an old sheet, or you stole one off the backyard clothesline. Hoboes were popular, too. That meant getting into your most raggedy clothes and using Mom’s makeup on your forehead and cheeks. Little girls would be princesses with a tiara made of aluminum foil and some leftover taffeta. Today, I’m told, little boys want to be princesses. (Have you seen the Twix commercial?) https://youtu.be/zd6NKY9vn8k
Times were tough then. We couldn’t afford a pumpkin. I had to carve a tomato.
That was a memorable mess. The tomato made a lousy jack-o-lantern, but did provide lots of fake blood for the ghost costume.
Halloween has undergone a couple of transformations. First, as mentioned, it moved from a childrens’ holiday, to one controlled by adults. That’s why you see so many pimps and how and I don’t just mean on Locust Street.
Lately, the politically correct, or woke, got their bony little hands on the holiday that likely was originated by Pagan Celts who lit bonfires, painted their asses and howled at the moon. That also happens on Locust Street.
Ghosts made of sheets? OMG — no! That stirs images of the Ku Klux Klan to the hypersensitive, and would require a trigger warning. (Trigger warnings will be popular costumes this year.)
You can’t dress up as a hobo. That would be mocking the homeless, the poor, and Amtrak riders, like Joe Biden. There won’t be many Biden masks this year. He is neither frightening nor funny. (Insert Donald J. Trump comment.)
Halloween once celebrated your right to be scary, objectionable, rude, and improper. That was the fun of it.
But the woke don’t like fun. They are new Puritans, hunting for offense like pigs after truffles. They have rewritten “fun” into social justice lectures.
Remember the huge flap when Prince Harry dressed in a Nazi costume for a Halloween party? Some were mortified and acted like he had taken a Third Reich oath. (Poor kid. He later took a marital oath that led to more trouble than the Nazi kerfuffle.)
Worse than Nazis in today’s PC culture would be a Confederate uniform. Even an American uniform might be condemned as nationalistitic and militaristic. Yes, the men (and woman) who underwrote our freedom are seen as archaic. And probably racist.
What kind of military costume can you wear?
Roman Praetorian Guard, because the woke like men in short leather skirts. It normalizes cross-dressers.
For other costumes, you might think about zombies and ghouls and vampires, but that might offend the undead community. You know how sensitive they are.
Religious figures, such as the Pope are almost cliches, and you can dress as priests or bishops or cardinals, but not nuns, because they are women and well, you know, you can’t make fun of a minority (even if they happen to be a majority. It’s woke math, and we know math is racist.)
For many years, my favorite costume was a Roman Catholic priest. I had the black shirt, the white collar, and all the right moves. Back then, Mayor Kenney was still Jimmy from the Block and would dress up as a prelate — or worse. He now dresses as a wet blanket.
Americans are expected to spend more than $10 billion on Halloween this year, which proves we are indeed in the first world and maybe don’t need a guaranteed annual income.
According to Google, this year’s most popular costumes are a mix of traditional and fictional: Witch, Rabbit, Dinosaur, Spider-Man, Cruella de Vil, Fairy, Harley Quinn, Cowboy, Clown, Chucky.
As a side note, look for signs that say, “Let’s Go, Brandon.” If you haven’t caught up with that cultural wrinkle, ask Google, or follow this link.
Looking at the above list, I see “Cowboy” but not
Indian Native American.
Putting red blush on your skin would be racist. Applying “war paint” to your paleface would be cultural appropriation. You know, like opera.
I’m afraid “Rabbit” and “Dinosaur” would be “punching down,” which is not permitted. Fictional characters seem to be OK, providing that they have not been charged with pedophilia, or animal abuse, which would seem to eliminate Cruella.
I did a column in 2017 which reported that a Halloween manufacturer had come up with an Anne Frank costume. It was roundly booed by those who think the Holocaust wasn’t funny.
Of course, it wasn’t. But it’s not a huge step from a jail inmate — with the funny black and white stripes — to a concentration camp internee, with rags for clothes. It could be intended as a social justice statement, but probably it’s best to avoid those images.
Without doubt, the most offensive costume of all this year is the European white male. Avoid that at all costs.