While Halloween is typically a time to express your creativity, a new costume trend has emergedâ€”making light of tragic current events.
Homemade costumes making fun of domestic violence have appeared on social media, with multiple couples dressing up as Ray and Janay Rice, with the men wearing Ray Rice jerseys and women sporting black eyes.
If you missed this amazing racism and pro-DV bs posted to Instagram by @RitterZac (account now locked) pic.twitter.com/7ULCxhVfVC
â€” Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) October 26, 2014
Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was released from the team in early September after video footage emerged of him assaulting his then fiancee, now wife Janay, knocking her unconscious in an elevator. TMZ posted a Reddit video earlier this week of a man wearing a Rice jersey and dragging a blow-up doll behind him to represent Janay.
Janay Rice responded to the TMZ tweet, saying “it’s sad that my suffering amuses others.”
.@TMZ it’s sad, that my suffering amuses others
â€” Janay Rice (@JanayRice) October 22, 2014
TMZ also released a video and photos of a Los Angeles man dressed as Adrian Peterson, wearing a football jersey and carrying a baby doll and a switch. The Minnesota Vikings running back was indicted in September for injuring a child after allegedly using a wooden switch to discipline his four-year-old son. A doctor reported the athlete to authorities after treating his son’s injuries.
Steph Woods, professor of pop culture at American University, told Washington D.C.’s WTOP-FM this week that such costumes cross a line.
“I think it’s disgusting. It makes light of things in a way that’s comical, that’s used for entertainment. For victims, for their family members, this isn’t an issue in which anyone can dress up or dress over.”
Such costumes could also reinforce the stigma domestic violence victims face every day, especially when they see unknowing friends and neighbors wearing the costumes for fun.
Domestic violence in sports is not the only inspiration for offensive Halloween costumes this year. Ebola and Malaysia Airlines costumes have also popped up on social media.
Consider the reality behind such thoughtless costumes. Ebola has killed almost 5,000 people in three African nations, including more than 200 health care workers attempting to treat it. A U.S. patient who contracted Ebola in Liberia recently died in a Dallas hospital. Scores of passengers died in both the Malaysia Airlines flight that disappeared into the ocean and the flight shot down in Ukraine earlier this year. Hundreds of families are still mourning these losses.
Professor Woods recommends taking inspiration for creative or edgy costumes from fiction rather than real-life world issues.
“Hunger Games, the 50 Shades movie coming out in a couple months… There’s an opportunity to be very creative… but not in a way that makes light of other people’s suffering or further perpetuates this as accepted.”