Costume Stereotypes

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Costume Stereotypes

Post by Crateria » 2011-10-28 08:51pm

(CNN) -- Ohio University student Taylor See and her friends expected some controversy to arise from a project to raise awareness of what it means to dress up as an ethnic stereotype for Halloween. But they weren't expecting the comparisons to robots or dogs.
The campaign, "We're a culture, not a costume," features students of different races holding pictures of costumes of racial or ethnic stereotypes: a geisha, a suicide bomber, a Native American, a "Mexican on a donkey," a person with their skin painted black and a metal grill in their mouth.
Brainchild of Students Teaching About Racism in Society, the campaign drew international media attention, generated intense online debate and perhaps most telling, it became the object of several Internet spoofs.


The memes also come in various forms: a real golden retriever with a picture of a man in a dog costume, a na'vi from the film "Avatar" holding a picture of a man painted blue, a LOLcat, a dalek with a picture of a dalek, a unicorn with a unicorn, and so on.
See, who designed the imagery, never expected it to get this big. Her first reaction? "Wow. A conversation is happening, because that's all we wanted, to make people think."
Then came the realization that their original message was getting lost in the mockery, she said.
"These people that are putting out characters of vampires, dogs, robots, they don't have anything better to do with their time?" she said. "It's silly. We're talking about actual race, actual people that are actually affected. I guarantee you robots and dogs are not affected by what we're trying to say."


The most startling was an image of a monkey holding a picture of the black student featured in the original poster, she said.
Offensive Halloween costumes
"That was just awful. The fact that people think that's OK shows why this discussion is still important and relevant, unfortunately," she said.
By their nature, these kinds of memes have a way of trivializing the original message, especially when it comes to ad campaigns or PSAs dealing with social issues, said Brad Kim, editor of knowyourmeme.com, a site that tracks viral stuff on the Web.
This campaign in particular has a high "exploitability" quotient because it's about race and stereotypes, perennial hot topics on the Internet, where people can comment anonymously and therefore more freely than they would face-to-face, he said.


The posters' design also sets up the objects for exploitation, practically beckoning people to deploy their Photoshop skills to play around with various themes, he said. Kim cited a derivative featuring grunge icon Kurt Cobain holding a picture of the lead singer of Nickelback.
"This would be a perfect example of a movement or campaign with a fixed set of messages that turned into a visual mad lib and turned into something bigger," he said. "I don't think they're all necessarily arguing against the campaign or lashing out against it, but it does the subtle job of trivializing the subject's topic, which is the Internet's subtle way of saying, 'No, I beg to differ.' "
Most of the reaction the campaign received directly has been positive, said the group's president, Sarah Williams. Other schools in the United States have asked for permission to use the posters, along with a primary school teacher from South Korea.
"Our main purpose was to have a dialogue and discussion and make people think and we've definitely hit a nerve with people," she said.


On the other end of the spectrum, they've also received hate mail, including an e-mail with the n-word.
Some criticism takes the students to task for being too sensitive and taking themselves too seriously. Others questioned whether the same concept applied to white people, or costumes of leprechauns or rednecks.
"I find this article offensive and stereotypical. Just because I'm white doesn't mean that I take my Halloween costume as anything more than a costume. Get a life Ohio University," one CNN.com commenter said.
"Whew. I'm going to wear a XXXL suit and stuff it full of pillows, draw some fake beard on my face, add some extra chins, shuffle around dancing badly and go as Chaz Bono. But I'm white, so this is not offensive," said another.
The idea to highlight the issue of racial and ethnic costumes resulted from the prevalence of students going in blackface last Halloween to dress like rappers and Tiger Woods, Williams said. An off-campus party last year also encouraged guests to come painted black and dressed "ghetto."


"We don't think we're being too sensitive. I think that's just the reaction from the majority culture," Williams said, "It's hard to put yourself in that position of being a minority when you're not a part of the minority. Usually the majority culture can exploit and make fun of that."
Stereotypes have the power to hurt, especially when they embody false or archaic notions about someone, added See, who is black. Not all Mexicans travel on donkeys or wear sombreros, just like not all of them are illegal. And not all black people are rappers or young single mothers or behave like Tiger Woods.
"I fight every day to prove I'm not a stereotype," she said. "I get good grades, I try to be articulate, but it's frustrating because costumes like that tell me that all of my efforts are fruitless because this is what people think of me at the end of day."
Damn you know it. You so smart you brought up like history and shit. Laying down facts like you was a blues clues episode or something. How you get so smart? Like the puns and shit you use are wicked smart, Red Letter Moron! HAHAHAHAH!1 Fucks that is funny, you like should be on TV with Jeff Dunham and shit.-emersonlakeandbalmer
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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by CaptainChewbacca » 2011-10-28 09:03pm

Please provide the link to the article, I'd like to see the pictures that go with it.
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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by madd0ct0r » 2011-10-28 10:17pm

I can show you one of the 'trivialsed examples' - a photo of my brother dressed as Geordie La Forge photoshopped into the 'blacked up' poster.

On the one hand, he was blacked up.
On the other, he was Geordie La Forge - Does that count as a culture instead of costume?
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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by Kodiak » 2011-10-28 10:26pm

CaptainChewbacca wrote:Please provide the link to the article, I'd like to see the pictures that go with it.
Meme can be seen Here
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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by Xisiqomelir » 2011-10-30 08:16pm

Kodiak wrote:
CaptainChewbacca wrote:Please provide the link to the article, I'd like to see the pictures that go with it.
Meme can be seen Here
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Chewie: your link

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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by spaceviking » 2011-10-30 09:04pm

I have seen these poster around my school. While, I think this 'Star' group has good intentions I think some of their posters counter productive. A guy dressed as a Mexican is not okay, however I think a guy dressed as Charro is. The problem is that this group is associating certain characters with a racial group when the wearer is not making the same assuption. A girl who dresses up like a geisha is not dressed as a Asian she is dressed as a geisha.

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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by Mr. Coffee » 2011-10-30 10:21pm

Yeah, pretty muh as soon as this came out the Goons over at SA jumped on it and ran. Honestly, while I think the intentions of Miss See and her friends is in the right place, she's kind of got a huge hill to climb on a subject that most people would consider to be harmless fun (I mean stereotypes as costums, not the whole racism angle). Not really sure where I stand on this. On one hand I agree that racism is bullshit, on the other I can see the humor in making fun of stereotypes. Hell, on year me and my girldfriend at the time went dressed as a seniorita and mexican bandit (I was the senorita, she was the bandit), and we introduced out selves as Juan and Emal (Because once you've seen Juan you've seen Emal. Lame joke, but we thought it was funny as hell).

Either way, good on Miss See for trying to do something positive.
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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by Count Chocula » 2011-10-30 11:07pm

Gee, when my wife and I went to a Halloween party and I was dressed as a (probably Semitic) Jesus Christ and she (being Cuban) was dressed as Mae West, were we racial stereotyping? Probably no. Actually, definitely no. Mr. Coffee (is an asshole) and spaceviking nailed it, and I think Ms. See is grasping at straws. I looked at the slideshow and just saw a parade of butthurt students at a First World university. Boo fucking hoo.

I followed the link to this article, and one passage from a grown-up tickled me pink:
Jelani Cobb of RUUUTGEERRRRS wrote:"I think it's almost impossible to be ironic while being racist, so irony is lost," said Jelani Cobb, a professor of Africana studies at Rutgers University and the author of "The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress."

"To treat a character like Batman or Superman as a Halloween costume is one thing, but to treat an entire ethnicity as a costume is something else. It suggests that people conflate the actual broad diversity of a culture with caricatures and characters."

While Italian-Americans can be stereotyped as gangsters and Irish-Americans as hard drinkers, there are no pervasive stereotypes for whites on the same level that allow for them to be caricatured as a Halloween costume, Cobb said.
Italians and Irish, especially Irish, are, uhm, white on census and demographic forms. Oh, the irony.
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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by CaptainChewbacca » 2011-10-31 12:38am

Methinks she's never seen a 'white trash' or 'beer gut' costume before.
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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by Losonti Tokash » 2011-10-31 12:47am

Did I miss the memo where a beer gut costume was directly equivalent to some shitwit going around in blackface or sticking feathers in his hair and hollering?

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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by Mr. Coffee » 2011-10-31 12:54am

Nice, zero in on "beer gut" and completely miss "white trash". Because no one could possibly make stereotypes out of whites, and there's no way anyone could consider that offensive... Here's a hint, learn to take a joke when someone intends a joke and learn to take offense when someone is actually intending to give it.
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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by CaptainChewbacca » 2011-10-31 12:56am

Come to think, Chavvy Scum might make a good costume in the UK. Is 'guido' an offensive costume? Its making fun of a subculture.
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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by Bakustra » 2011-10-31 01:01am

Mr. Coffee wrote:Nice, zero in on "beer gut" and completely miss "white trash". Because no one could possibly make stereotypes out of whites, and there's no way anyone could consider that offensive... Here's a hint, learn to take a joke when someone intends a joke and learn to take offense when someone is actually intending to give it.
Don't be a fucking idiot, Coffee. It's quite possible for someone to be offensive without intending it, indeed even in the process of making a joke. Claiming that redneck costumes are exactly equivalent to blackface, yellowface, and redface costumes is rather offensive in and of itself, because there are many more historical connotations associated with racial and cultural stereotyping through costumes and makeup involving racial minorities than there are for white people, and most of those are for groups that only recently became white.
CaptainChewbacca wrote:Come to think, Chavvy Scum might make a good costume in the UK. Is 'guido' an offensive costume? Its making fun of a subculture.
So blackface is A-OK with you? You gonna get your Al Jolson on tomorrow night? Because that's a large part of what this campaign is about, and snide comments like this seem to suggest that you find the idea of blackface being offensive ridiculous.
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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by Losonti Tokash » 2011-10-31 01:04am

I dunno if you guys are aware of this (you likely are and don't give a shit, hiding behind "it's a joke"), but intent isn't super important when you're exploiting negative stereotypes of a race or culture for humor. If someone thinks it's fucking hilarious to go out in blackface, they're still being a gigantic asshole. Saying "well, this other thing is bad too" does not make the first thing acceptable.

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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by CaptainChewbacca » 2011-10-31 01:05am

No, what I find ridiculous is people thinking 'suicide bomber' is representative of arab culture, or that 'gangsta' is representative of black culture.

You know why nobody dresses up like a black CEO or a hispanic heart surgeon for halloween? Because those are shitty costumes.

My 260-lb so-white-its-translucent ass dressed as a pimp or a rapper WOULD, however, be hilarious. This year my girlfriend chose, though, so I was prince charming.

Damn... I should've been 'The Artist Formerly Known as Prince Charming'.
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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by Losonti Tokash » 2011-10-31 01:09am

Yeah, dude, I'm sure the white guy dressing as a suicide bomber with a fake beard and Arab clothing isn't making fun of Arab culture or Muslims in general. You'd have to be really stretching to read that out of it, nevermind all the shitwits making those same jokes for basically my entire life or some no-talent asshole puppeteer making a career of the whole concept.

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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by CaptainChewbacca » 2011-10-31 01:11am

If it helps, a lot of white poeple hate Jeff Dunham too. I'm one of them.
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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by Bakustra » 2011-10-31 01:14am

Holy fuck, could you address Los directly instead of dodging around his point? I mean, these are actual stereotypes that people hold about black people and Arabic people in real life, and which they generally have to deal with in media on a daily basis. So blackface costumes or "Arab" costumes are really pretty offensive for that reason- they are built on actual offensive stereotypes made by actual people.
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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by Questor » 2011-10-31 03:24am

Bakustra wrote:Holy fuck, could you address Los directly instead of dodging around his point? I mean, these are actual stereotypes that people hold about black people and Arabic people in real life, and which they generally have to deal with in media on a daily basis. So blackface costumes or "Arab" costumes are really pretty offensive for that reason- they are built on actual offensive stereotypes made by actual people.
This is the important part of the argument.

The costumes are offensive to people because the STEREOTYPE is offensive. If some large segment of the population were to find the stereotypes mentioned by Chewie as offensive as many people - and not necessarily just those of the portrayed ethnic groups - find the stereotypes being referred to, then those costumes would be just as offensive as those stereotypes.

On a different note, I'm not that old, and I'm old enough to remember some stereotypical costumes relating to typically white groups - and some of these are still common (Italian/russian gangster, guido, irish terrorist, braveheart)

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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by Mr. Coffee » 2011-10-31 04:29am

Bakustra wrote:Don't be a fucking idiot, Coffee. It's quite possible for someone to be offensive without intending it, indeed even in the process of making a joke. Claiming that redneck costumes are exactly equivalent to blackface, yellowface, and redface costumes is rather offensive in and of itself, because there are many more historical connotations associated with racial and cultural stereotyping through costumes and makeup involving racial minorities than there are for white people, and most of those are for groups that only recently became white.
Don't honestly give a flying fuck. If you get all outraged over one stereotype but don't see anything wrong with another then you're hypocritical fuckwit and I hope you die of ass cancer.
Bakustra wrote:So blackface is A-OK with you? You gonna get your Al Jolson on tomorrow night? Because that's a large part of what this campaign is about, and snide comments like this seem to suggest that you find the idea of blackface being offensive ridiculous.
Yes, yes, get all outraged over one thing, completely ignore the other, and go play on your fucking bandwagon, you useless shithead. Same to Los and his false outrage, grandstanding bullshit.
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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by Flagg » 2011-10-31 07:17am

Get back to me when white people and rednecks have been an oppressed minority for 500 years.
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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by Mr. Coffee » 2011-10-31 07:20am

Flagg wrote:Get back to me when white people and rednecks have been an oppressed minority for 500 years.
So you're saying whites have a racial bonus against being the victims of racism themselves because of white guilt? Next you're gonna try and tell me two wrongs make a right...
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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by Flagg » 2011-10-31 07:32am

Mr. Coffee wrote:
Flagg wrote:Get back to me when white people and rednecks have been an oppressed minority for 500 years.
So you're saying whites have a racial bonus against being the victims of racism themselves because of white guilt? Next you're gonna try and tell me two wrongs make a right...
Context matters. Who knew?
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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by Mr. Coffee » 2011-10-31 07:49am

Flagg wrote:
Mr. Coffee wrote:
Flagg wrote:Get back to me when white people and rednecks have been an oppressed minority for 500 years.
So you're saying whites have a racial bonus against being the victims of racism themselves because of white guilt? Next you're gonna try and tell me two wrongs make a right...
Context matters. Who knew?
Yeah, turns out in the context of humor, racial stereotypes are pretty damn funny. Don't believe me? Explain why Dave Chappelle had a career then. Regardless of if you personally think he's funny he's apparently funny enough that he managed to gain enough of a following to build multi-million dollar career on racial stereotypes.

Rednecks are hilarious.


Yo, dawg, I heard you like racial stereotypes, so we put a stereotype in your stereotype... blah blah blah...


Hey, if a white guy doing blackface is offense is a black guy doing white facr still funny? Yes, yes it is...


In closing, go wash the sand out of your clits and learn to laugh, people. Make fun of this shit and you take the hate out of it.
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Re: Costume Stereotypes

Post by Losonti Tokash » 2011-10-31 08:02am

Eat shit, Coffee. I didn't say white stereotypes were okay, either, but there's a vast fucking difference between a confederate hat with some buckteeth and mocking a race or culture that's been the victim of slavery and genocide. I understand a huge chunk of your internet persona relies on being "edgy" and not giving a fuck, but I actually have to deal with people who think these stereotypes are true/funny and making people aware of how offensive these costumes can be is a good start.

Go ahead and wear your stupid Juan and Emal outfit all you want. No one is gonna stop you. Just don't fool yourself into thinking it's not offensive.

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