Cobwebs and carved pumpkins take their places on front porches. Using the holiday to justify their less-than-appropriate fashion choices, girls search tirelessly for the perfect modified workers’ uniforms (this year, I hear the Foxy Firefighter will be especially big). As always, kids on sugar highs dressed as witches, goblins and ghouls will soon be running rampant in our neighborhoods. We can blame overnight sensations like Twilight for the thousands of pretend vampires that will hungrily stalk the streets seeking a taste of blood — or maybe just some candy.
As Halloween quickly approaches, we prepare for a day in which the exciting festivities provide us the once-a-year opportunity to escape from our everyday, sometimes uninspired appearances. Salacious outfits, heavy face paint or an elaborate wig will most times be all that is needed to spice up our looks, but what can be said about a disguise with a bit more celebrity appeal?
In times of desperation, dressing up as your favorite musician or movie star never seems to fail. This year, Spirit Halloween, a national costume retailer that sells nearly 800 different outfits, anticipated that costumes portraying celebrities and infamous public faces would be the store’s top sellers.
To continue with the trend, people are finally retiring last year’s sexy “Sarah Palin” office wear, “Victoria Beckham” hair-styled wigs and their gold “Flavor Flav” giant clocks, and trading them in for leather jackets and sequined gloves à la Michael Jackson, latex masks in the likeness of President Barack Obama, metallic space suits courtesy of Lady Gaga and practically anything studded, leather and remotely dominatrix-looking to pass for a Rihanna getup.
With the growing ridiculousness of celebrity wardrobes today, there is hardly a shortage of ideas for one to pursue.
But as we toy over the difficult decision of what costume to wear — choosing between Elvis and a member of KISS — the process can actually be quite self-reflective. At some point, it is important to step back from the busy consumer tradition and consider the rationale behind our decisions: Why am I dressing up this way?
Just like the choice of attending parties as a Playboy bunny — or perhaps a pimp — reflects its own list of unspoken intentions, the practice of playing celebrity dress-up offers a motive of its own: the glimmering chance for us to be more like our idols. Although we emulate the rich and famous in nearly all facets of our personal lifestyles already, Halloween is more obvious and playful. While gimmicky imitation can mostly be regarded as flattering to a celebrity, some Halloween primping and prettifying is not.
Costumes can also be used to fulfill our many attitudes and grievances for celebrities, both positive and negative. For as many admirers out there just itching to bring back Madonna’s ’80s style, haters of the pop star may use a costume as yet another vehicle for mockery or dissent. For example, for years people looking to poke fun at the politician have ditched a suit and tie and paired up the best-selling mask of former President George W. Bush with their worst hillbilly attire. Ouch.
Those anticipating an uncontrollable, drunken night of misbehavior on Halloween may have gone with costumes in likeness of junkie Amy Winehouse, “crazy Britney” or what will be definitely be a popular choice this year, Lindsay Lohan.
And surely, those of us opting to be Kate Gosselin for Halloween (complete with the god-awful haircut, mom clothes and eight babies strapped to your body) are probably not the reality star’s greatest supporters either. In an opposite light, costumes can still be a colorful homage to celebrity greats. A glittery military blazer, fedora and curly wig may be the right touch to pay tribute to the recently deceased.
With all the ridicule and respect talk aside, celebrities and famous faces can rest assured that when fans, haters and everyone in between are willing to dish out the money and effort to dress like them for Halloween, perhaps they’ve gotten somewhere.
Christopher Agutos is a junior majoring in public relations. His column, “Pop Life,” runs Tuesdays.