As sure as Halloween comes around every October, the holiday always brings about costumes that test the boundaries of what’s considered acceptable.
Inevitably, debates spring up: Is it racist to let a white child dress up as Polynesian Disney princess Moana? Racial sensitivity is a hot topic this time of year, with schools and universities across the nation recommending that students not wear things like Native American headdresses or blackface as part of their costumes.
Occasionally, a costume will cross the line from offensive to being perceived as threatening.
Photos posted of a man wearing what some people referred to as a “mass shooter” costume at two malls in Omaha, Neb., picked up more than 100 shares on social media Friday, KMTV in Omaha reported. The costume, which involved a mask, a duffel bag and a prop gun with no orange tip, drew concern from some patrons at the city’s Oak View and Westroads malls. Omaha police did not file a report, as they could find no threat of danger.
KMTV followed up with the man, Hugo Mendoza, who clarified that his costume was based on Ben Affleck’s character in “The Town,” a 2010 action film, and said he had no intent to make people uncomfortable.
“Its a costume,” Mendoza told KMTV. “I mean, if it was something bad, why would they sell it?”
Particularly in the aftermath of the Oct. 1 Las Vegas shooting that left 59 people dead and injured more than 500, certain costume themes have become all the more offensive. PIX11 in New York’s observation of “the most offensive Halloween costumes of 2017” makes mention of the disturbing image of a blood-soaked “Welcome to Las Vegas” T-shirt – a direct reference to the tragedy – photos of which surfaced on social media last week.
As for the why? PIX11’s story speculates that edgy or controversial costumes are a grab for likes, shares and attention on social media.
Public outcry has led retailers to pull some products off their virtual shelves. Last year, Wal-Mart removed “Razor Blade Suicide Wound Latex Costume Make Up” from its online store. This year, HalloweenCostumes.com got rid of its Anne Frank costume.