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The Political Correctness of Halloween Costumes

Updated on October 19, 2014

Politically Incorrect Halloween Costumes

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Sensitivity & Compassion

America gives everyone the same advantages and opportunities within the realm of social hierarchy, and then filters all things to ensure that no one is offended or faces strife by being overly concerned with diplomatic appropriateness. Our evolving culture has influenced societal behavior; reinforcing the trajectory of that cultural change is what we call political correctness. We are all defined by our deeds and actions, not merely our words. Pandering everyone's expectations of social behavior can sometimes limit an individual’s personal freedom; American mainstream culture has a great fear of being politically incorrect. Ignorance is not an excuse for the lack of political sensitivity. This lack of sympathetic understanding can create much backlash, because unless respondent people adhere to the usual social conduct they will rightfully suffer scorn.

The use of political correctness is used as a ‘buffer’ to ward off the evil that seeps into a valiant country of autonomy; the United State of America. The Boston bombings and the attacks during 9/11 have permanently marked humanity. People continue to be affected long after the area at Ground Zero has been rebuilt, and now society as a whole is sensitive to any and all witticisms, jests and thoughtless behaviors. Much has been written and spoken about the World Trade Center bombings; however the recent backlash was felt by two college students attending a Halloween party.

What does a Boston Marathon runner and the Twin Tower victims have in common? They are recent victims of horrible tragedies that have occurred in America due to random acts of terror, and now the offensive and exploited themes of recent Halloween costumes. They are all victims at the hands of common individuals, or the usual suspects who have made offensive decisions in the interest of entertainment. According to Adam Withnall, writing for the “Independent” news in 2013, two British University of Chester students dressed in costume as the North and South Towers, complete with crashing planes, cadavers and American flags buried among the wreckage. Withnall wrote how one of the fathers, who flew as a United Express pilot at the time of the attack in 2001, said “he would be having a little chat with his daughter about the incident.” Expressing further, he remarked “I didn’t know anything about it, but I’m not happy at all—she knows I’m a pilot and that’s not cool.” Withnall added that the University of Chester and Chester Students' Union said in a joint statement: “We utterly condemn the appalling photos,” and both organizations have begun an urgent investigation with a view to taking the necessary action.” The students may have won the contest, but on final exam they graded a zero when testing mainstream sensitivity. The colloquialism of being “politically correct” was something these two college students never studied. Expressing remorse, the two young women explained to the press that their costumes were supposed to illustrate present-day horror (as opposed to the classic and redundant horror costumes of a witch, vampire, or zombie).

In 2001, when the attacks on America occurred, British Prime Minister Tony Blair was about to speak at a Trade Union Congress (TUC) conference when America’s World Trade Center was struck down. He instead spoke about the current tragedy. According to Mr. Blair “this mass terrorism is the new evil in our world today—perpetrated by fanatics who are utterly indifferent to the sanctity of human life, and we the democracies of this world are going to have to come together and fight it together.” Mr. Blair’s words outline the basis for humanity joining together in the fight against terrorism and the fear that suspicions will bring. There are many fanatics and ignorant people who are indifferent to the sanctity of human life. This triviality is seen in the same perspective as the appalling taste of the two British students who donned themselves in costume as the North and South Towers, and the 22-year-old Alicia Ann Lynch, who also chose a blatantly offensive Halloween costume as a victim of the Boston Marathon bombings. These appalling posts are only two of many internet postings of others who have behaved poorly regarding recent tragedies.

Three people were killed in the Boston Marathon explosion. One memorable victim was an eight year old boy cheering for his dad at the finish line. A massive 144 people were reportedly injured, the ages ranging from two to twelve. The Washington Post wrote that the FBI believes there is no single, universally accepted, definition of terrorism, and the U.S. federal code defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

The Boston bombings and the Twin Tower destructions are definite acts of terror that have generated much sensitivity in Americans in the past decade. This societal sensitivity has affected many mediums within mass media dissemination. For example, USA Today reported how in an effort of compassion Fox Television removed a recent episode of “Family Guy” cartoon, after the Web page Mashups on YouTube concocted a cartoon that appeared to predict the Boston Marathon bombings. The series creator Seth MacFarlane posted on Twitter that the clips were “abhorrent” and said “the attack was a crime and a tragedy,” and that his thoughts are with the victims. This type of sensitivity has been prompted by Americas need to be politically correct, especially in times of senseless tragedies.

Across America, throughout the towns and cities (especially in New York City), you may see how there are several commonplace representations of remembrance to the tragedies caused by acts of terror. American towns are about remembrance, and how they will “never forget.” This vow is the catalyst that keeps the flame of determination going, and the core reason for heightened sensitivity in America. The organization called New York Neighbors for American Values is in favor of building an Islamic Cultural Center two blocks from Ground Zero. The construction of this center has generated much controversy, and yet it has the support of many of the victims’ families. I think perhaps, these families need to let go of the evil that hate can bring, and hope to preserve the core values of the American dream, by showing compassion to those blameless Islamic families.

My own observations when walking the site of the current Ground Zero was that although there were many visitors, the atmosphere was muted. People were observed standing alongside the vast stone memorial with one hand touching the name of their lost loved one, and the other hand holding tight to their eternal memories. The perpetual water falls gently around the consecrated site, as it carries away the stains of iniquity. There is a hush when people speak that confirms the veneration that they hold for this sacred ground and all who lost and gave their life on that revered and tragic day. This is the emotion that provokes the sorrow that many people consider when witnessing the dishonor of their loved ones, by such actions as a thoughtless Halloween costume.

Ignorance is not an excuse or justification for the absence of political sensitivity and misconduct. Americans are still sensitive toward the concept of political correctness and poor behaviors, because they will ‘never forget.’ These usual suspects should always justly suffer scorn from their insensitive behavior, and hopefully learn from their blunders. Such blunders as a poor choice in Halloween costume. The reflections of Ground Zero illustrate the incredulity of how individuals can disrespect those who have died at the hands of such suffering. This is only one demonstration of how careless and politically insensitive some people can be. It is easily apparent how such unsympathetic people can generate increased sensitivity in the world just by making these poor choices, and cause others to view everyone as usual suspects.

Boston Marathon Bombing Victim Costume

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How to Choose a Costume

  • Choose a costume that you can easily move about in and have good visibility in.
  • Try to pick a non-flammable costume and one without sharp objects which may inadvertently harm others passing by you.
  • Wear reflective or bright colors when walking the streets.
  • Make sure you won't have difficulties using the facilities!
  • Select a costume that represents your Halloween concept with consideration to how others may perceive your choice.

SAMHAIN

Did you know that Halloween stems from a Gaelic festival that commemorates the end Autumn and the beginning of winter? October 31st is the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice--a time to observe ritualistic liminality. Liminality is the transitional period or phase of a rite of passage, during which the participant lacks social status or rank, remains anonymous, shows obedience and humility, and follows prescribed forms of conduct, dress, etc. Hence, the reason for wearing or displaying costumes!

Ground Zero

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Sensitivity

Since Halloween was taken from a celebrated "rite of passage" that is found in many different cultures, perhaps our consideration of costume might reflect this respect for its character in the character we choose?

Halloween Costumes

Which costume would you choose?

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Ground Zero

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    • Terrex profile image

      Terrex 2 years ago

      ^ haha What Brian said

    • profile image

      brian 2 years ago

      Change your skin color to black. You have much more protection and flexibility on what you can and can not say.

    • Denise Cole Aparo profile image
      Author

      Denise Cole Aparo 3 years ago from Connecticut

      I agree with you. People do not always have motives for everything. Sometimes a costume is just a costume! Thank you, so much, for your comment!!

    • profile image

      Cynthia McCool 3 years ago

      Interesting topic....I think some people do use their Halloween costume as a "political" statement, and some just try to dress funny without any meaning...I'm sure there's a lot of both kinds of people.