Race Or Whatever

Oprah Winifred Sanderson

I left two costume mashups off of my post 14 Halloween Costumes That Prove You’re the Smartest Person At the Party.  One of them was Oprah Winifred Sanderson, a combo of the true Queen of All Media and Bette Midler’s character from Hocus Pocus. Believe me, I tried to make this work. I adore Oprah; I adore Bette but… I’ve never seen Hocus Pocus.

oprah

Stop judging me!

I’ve never seen it. Sorry. I’ve never seen The Goonies either. Or Labyrinth. I’ve seen All Dogs Go to Heaven like 20 times and I hate that movie, but Hocus Pocus, no. I grew up in a God-fearing home and we didn’t like witches and we didn’t like Halloween. We loved Beaches though. Sweet Jesus, we did.

I’m still not really into Halloween. The only reason I celebrate it is because it’s also known as Gay Christmas and so I get a loophole. I didn’t know about this loophole until adulthood. I hated Halloween as a kid; I guess because I didn’t know there was an opportunity to be witty/slutty. It’s just as well. Kids are generally bad at wit. And sluttiness, actually.

These days, I participate in Halloween/Gay Christmas but I don’t get into scares or ghosts or anything like that. I just invest a lot of creative energy into coming up with totally revealing costumes based on plays on words and pop culture puns in an increasingly futile attempt to get people to have sex with my personality.

Last year, I was Phyllis Thriller: white fright wig, long cigarette holder, red leather jacket. Yup, Phyllis Diller/Michael Jackson. Hello boys. Welcome to the yard!

Anyway, Oprah Winifred Sanderson was out. That left only one choice:

Large framed glassesurkel1a

Headband

High waisted pants

Suspenders

Ninja swords

Costume: Teenage Mutant Ninja Urkel.

::hold for applause::

I went to a party last night thrown by gay couple I adore. One of the two works in theatre like I do, so it was full of queers and theatre people and theatre queers, at least six performances of “The Hot Honey Rag” and a prolonged debate about who would play whom when we all dress as the mid-nineties Queen Latifah sitcom Living Single. It was also a Comic-Con-themed party, so everyone was dressed a superhero. That means, of course, a sea of flaccid penises barely concealed behind low-hanging spandex. gleeAnd if free-balling in a Sonic the Hedgehog bodysuit isn’t what the founding fathers meant by “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, I’ll eat that A I got in AP History. Actually, I think I dropped AP History after a couple of weeks. I did take AP Statistics, though, so I’m still qualified here. Just calm down. Calm down. Sir, please lower your voice.

It was also a Housewarming party because gays are lost if there aren’t at least 3 themes to every event. How can we ironically engage while also judging and rejecting if the party planners don’t take the Lido deck approach to programming? I was once at a brunch that was also an engagement party, a board meeting, an intervention and a gospel drag show.

Anyway, it was a fantastic time, dicks abounded, and nobody but nobody felt the need to paint their face black.

And I’m sorry. This is a dramedy blog; I’m not here to talk about, you know, whatever. Plus, everyone has some really interesting opinions, including the fantastic and very popular Katherine Fritz of I Am Begging My Mother Not To Read This Blog. So read them. I got nothing to say…

Except…

Okay, so I put the following up on Facebook when I first read about Julianne Hough’s Crazy Eyes costume:

My actual face.

My actual face.

Nope.
Nope.
Sorry, but no.
Bantu knots, sure. Face paint, absolutely not.

Really? Are you new? Are you an alien visitor from a far away land? Bienvenue! Welcome! Wash your face!

I Just! Don’t! Have! Time to explain how it’s totally fine to dress as someone of a different race and yet it’s totally not okay to paint your skin like them (exceptions are as follows: The Joker. Pennywise. Elphaba.). I just don’t have time. Should there be a mass e-mail? Would that be helpful? What if I wrote it on a cake? I will write it on a cake. That’s what I will do. A cake. I’ll write it on a cake.

And I started baking cakes. But then I got like real hungry and I ate all the cakes. And then I forgot all about it because, you know, this shit happens. It keeps happening. Some people get it, some people don’t. Except…

People in the comments section (I feel like that should be capitalized. For as many times as I’ve been incited to rage by people in the comments section, I feel they deserve their own defined category.) Anyway, People in the Comments Section keeps writing “I don’t see what the big deal is. She wasn’t trying to make fun.” or “Oh, here come the PC police.” Which, first of all, shut it down. All the way down. I’m going to need you to log off the computer, go to your living room and take any seat available. Second of all, you not seeing what the big deal is doesn’t actually change anything. (I’m sorry to be kicking you in your privilege so early this morning.)

I’m sure it would be nice if one could just declare, “Guys! I don’t get why this is a thing!” and everyone else could suddenly carry on about their lives having been given the NBD decree from high above, but alas! You not understanding the complexity of a situation doesn’t make the situation not complex.

gravity

If you think that it does, that line of thought is probably not your fault, but it doesn’t make it true. I’m not trying to black-splain anything to you. I’m just saying, I don’t get astrophysics but that doesn’t make space travel not a thing. Have you seen Gravity? That shit is real!

When you put on a costume, you are highlighting the most easily identifiable aspects of a character or persona. The essence. If you feel the need to darken your skin to portray another person then you are showing the limitations of your thinking. You are saying, “I only see, or primarily see, this person’s skin color” not their distinctive style of dress, their signature props, their robot hands, their talking car, whatever. That is what you are saying every time you paint your skin.

This man is a Ninja Turtle, also, even though he is white. Shocking.

This man is a Ninja Turtle, also, even though he is white. Shocking.

When the “PC Police” show up people start talking like their freedoms are being infringed upon. Like they’re losing the right to dress up however they want or to yell epithets in public or to fire someone for who they love. Just like when the real police show up, I’m pretty sure that you never lost that freedom; you just might have to face a consequence for exercising it. I mean, I did get a B in AP Statistics; I know what I’m talking about.

Look, this is why I love Gay Christmas: you get to step outside yourself for a night. You get to engage in the fantasy that the boxes that hem us in–race and gender and body type and what not–don’t have control. And if you’re a big black boy and you want to be Miley Cyrus, go with God, my friend. And if you’re a petite white woman and you want to be Crazy Eyes from Orange Is the New Black, tie your hair up in knots, toss on a jumpsuit, grab a throwing pie, crazy up them eyes and go. For a night you’re free from the constraints of believability and the exigencies of identity. And you don’t have to touch your skin. You’re free, baby. You’re free.

rericthomas.com

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