Happy Halloween, everybody! As we prepare to celebrate this spookiest of holidays I have seen an alarming number of costume PSAs. Now, it’s not the PSAs themselves that are alarming, but the comment threads attached to them. It would appear that there is a vast collective of people who see nothing wrong with blackface or cultural appropriation as a costume piece. They say those who are offended are too “PC” and need to lighten up. Interestingly enough these are, more often than not, a stream of people who are trying to put a racist, xenophobe in office. But I digress.
The fact is that the”sexy geisha” or the “sexy Indian”* are incredibly offensive to the cultures that they misrepresent. There is no attempt to accurately portray them and those who wear them seldom give a rat’s ass about the symbolism or history or anything besides their perceived sexiness.
*note: this costume title is offensive in itself. Why are Native Americans still being called Indians??
Here’s the thing though that really irks me… I’m sure there are lots of young kids out there who genuinely think that Japanese culture is the coolest, or legitimately want to be a hula dancer. There is no way they’re purposefully trying to offend (hell, I’m pretty sure most adults don’t been to offend, they just aren’t thinking, you know, like adults), but the costume choices your kids are limited to may inadvertently be problematic. Appropriation vs appreciation is a hard line to draw, and most Halloween costume companies fall far short with their polyester imitations of sacred cultural symbols. But in the case of innocent children who just wanna play dress up it makes me sad that the missteps of adults will ultimately limit them and prevent them from developing their genuine interest in other people and places around the world.
So don’t be a Hallo-weenie. Think before you dress up. And if your kid wants to be a samurai tonight just make sure they learn a little something about the history of the samurai and aren’t going just because of the cool sword. Because if it’s just about the cool sword… go as a pirate.
Ok, so that was my responsible Halloween rant. Now for something fun.