Halloween. It’s a time for fun, candy, costumes, and an excuse to party (as if we needed one). For kids, costumes usually concentrate around their heroes from tv, books, movies, and music. As adults we tend to add in some sexiness or humor, especially humor with its roots in politics and pop culture. This week Target and BuySeasons, Inc were asked by the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles to pull one of their costumes off the shelf because of its political humor.
The costume in question consists of an alien head, green card, and prison style jump suit with “illegal alien” emblazoned across the chest. The Coalition calls this “distasteful, mean-spirited, and ignorant of social stigmas and current debate on immigration reform.” A report by Minneapolis based Star Tribune cites other immigrant groups up in arms over the issue.
What I don’t understand is why one group would feel that this costume is directly targeting them. The costume has an alien mask, though the mask is not green it does not depict a specific race. There is nothing on the costume or props that suggest a specific ethnicity is being harassed by it. It is not saying “all aliens” or “legal aliens” – just illegal aliens. “Illegal Alien” is a blanket term. In fact according to the 2007 statistics, between 2005 and 2006 the number of illegal aliens from Mexico diminished from 7M to 6.5M while the number from India rose 125%. Between 2005 and 2006 China, India, and the Philippines were all ranked in the top six countries for illegal immigrants, not to mention the nearly 75,000 undocumented Canadians.
So what do you think? Is this costume directly offensive to a certain culture, or merely a satirical embodiment of a political issue? In a pole on the AOL website out of 186,945 people this offends 9% of them while an overwhelming 91% of voters find this costume inoffensive – 91%! That’s nearly a third higher than Obama’s approval rating in January 2009.