Author Topic: Halloween costumes: just don't do it, please  (Read 2547 times)

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poundcake

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Halloween costumes: just don't do it, please
« on: October 29, 2010, 01:08:57 PM »
I've had this discussion in years past, and I'm about to get into it again with someone. I don't care if you are going to a costume party as Barack Obama, Mr. T., James Brown, Tina Turner, Oprah or Aunt Jemima. I don't care if you are "just a kid!" I don't care if you "don't mean it that way!" Please do not use dark makeup to make yourself look black(er). No matter what you call it or what you mean, it is not "just a costume!" It's blackface. You can convey your costume perfectly fine without blacking up your skin with makeup, and no costume's supposed "authenticity" is more important than avoiding the incredibly painful implications of and hurt caused by blackface makeup.

nannyogg

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Re: Halloween costumes: just don't do it, please
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2010, 01:14:48 PM »
I agree, I was at work last night (supermarket) and a crowd of people came in.  One was dressed as a Rastafarian and was blacked up.  I just thought it was incredibly poor taste and I could see by the looks on some peoples faces that they agreed.

Surianne

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Re: Halloween costumes: just don't do it, please
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2010, 01:20:40 PM »
I don't know, I think there's always going to be a small subset of Hallowe'en that's about pushing boundaries, and I don't have a problem with that.  Sometimes the "offensive" costumes are my favourites and they often have something interesting to say. 

I do think that some thought should be put into deciding to do dark makeup, and it's important to acknowledge that it may be offensive to some and consider that when choosing the costume, but the final decision is up to the wearer.

Namárië

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Re: Halloween costumes: just don't do it, please
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2010, 01:25:48 PM »
What??!?? People do this!??!

I understand pushing boundaries, but that is just ... wow.
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Squeaks

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Re: Halloween costumes: just don't do it, please
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2010, 01:29:20 PM »
I think here is a big difference between useing comical jet black Halloween make up smeared on with no care, and useing real make with heavy foundation done to look normal.

And not everyone is offended by it.  In fact i actually remember seeing an episode of Oprah years back where an white audiance member had dressed up as Oprah for Halloween including the make up (very well done, she had a picture it looked natural) she got pulled over on the way home for the party and the cop let her off because he was laughing so hard at how different her ID looked.  Oprah, love the story, and was not offended by the make up, she was flattered, and found the pulled over part funny.

 

Surianne

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Re: Halloween costumes: just don't do it, please
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2010, 01:32:54 PM »
I think here is a big difference between useing comical jet black Halloween make up smeared on with no care, and useing real make with heavy foundation done to look normal.

And not everyone is offended by it.  In fact i actually remember seeing an episode of Oprah years back where an white audiance member had dressed up as Oprah for Halloween including the make up (very well done, she had a picture it looked natural) she got pulled over on the way home for the party and the cop let her off because he was laughing so hard at how different her ID looked.  Oprah, love the story, and was not offended by the make up, she was flattered, and found the pulled over part funny.

I agree, and that's a really neat story...glad to hear Oprah enjoyed it! 

There was a news story about this in Toronto last year.  Five University of Toronto students dressed as the Jamaican bobsled team from Cool runnings -- 4 white guys wearing black makeup (playing the team), and 1 Trinidadian wearing white makeup (playing the coach).

I thought the role reversal was pretty clever and funny, myself, but it caused a real fuss and they apologized:
http://restructure.wordpress.com/2009/11/14/white-university-of-toronto-students-in-blackface-win-halloween-costume-prize/

high dudgeon

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Re: Halloween costumes: just don't do it, please
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2010, 01:37:56 PM »
My feeling is that if you're doing something like that, your costume had better be a clever, brilliant, humorous (in a non-nasty or stereotypical way), thought-provoking work of genius that could not have possibly been expressed in another way. Otherwise, just go as something else instead.

lolane

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Re: Halloween costumes: just don't do it, please
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2010, 04:16:41 PM »
I also see a difference between wearing brown makeup to darken the skin, that is done very well and thoughtfully and smearing black makeup (that looks like black shoe polish) on one's skin haphazardly. One can be part of a well-done costume the other is nothing other than offensive (IMO).

I also think that people really need to consider their audience. If you want to go to a party hosted by friends who will appreciate your costume, great. If you come to work that way, be prepared to offend a lot of people and possibly be sent home (or worse.)

Gail

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Re: Halloween costumes: just don't do it, please
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2010, 04:30:37 PM »
You'll have to forgive me, but I don't understand how painting your face black could be offensive. Maybe because I'm in a mostly white country and I'm white. Is this because of racism?
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Linley

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Re: Halloween costumes: just don't do it, please
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2010, 04:41:26 PM »

There was a news story about this in Toronto last year.  Five University of Toronto students dressed as the Jamaican bobsled team from Cool runnings -- 4 white guys wearing black makeup (playing the team), and 1 Trinidadian wearing white makeup (playing the coach).

I thought the role reversal was pretty clever and funny, myself, but it caused a real fuss and they apologized:
http://restructure.wordpress.com/2009/11/14/white-university-of-toronto-students-in-blackface-win-halloween-costume-prize/

I agree the role reversal is sort of clever but I think the execution was lacking, which may have contributed to the reaction. (To me the 'black' guys in the photo just look like they over-tanned.) I think that the other posters are correct that a certain level of taste and verisimilitude plays into whether it is offensive/perceived as such or not.


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Thanda

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Re: Halloween costumes: just don't do it, please
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2010, 06:16:12 PM »
You'll have to forgive me, but I don't understand how painting your face black could be offensive. Maybe because I'm in a mostly white country and I'm white. Is this because of racism?
Yes.
Moreover, the historical (although apparently in some cases still current) context of what was once wrongly a socially acceptable parody of darker skin people.
Myself, I don't feel that any cultural group or any individual (whom one doesn't know for sure would be okay with it) is a good Haloween costume choice.

hyzenthlay

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Re: Halloween costumes: just don't do it, please
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2010, 06:27:02 PM »
You'll have to forgive me, but I don't understand how painting your face black could be offensive. Maybe because I'm in a mostly white country and I'm white. Is this because of racism?

In the US white actors would don an exaggerated form of make up to play a black character. In many cases this character simply sang or danced a piece that was considered 'black.' Al Jolson made his career on this, and was supportive and supported by the black community for helping to 'mainstream' black culture.

The flip side is that i8f the blackface character was given lines they were portrayed as mentally simple or ignorant, very much playing to stereotypes of blacks at the time.

I don't personally think that makeup, done well, is a bad thing. But that's different from the exaggerated features that were created when using 'blackface' and poor makeup skills would easily lead to a 'blackface' appearance.