Costumes can express important social messages

This year has been a delight for political junkies (which seems to be everyone, nowadays) and late-night comedians. Our southern neighbours have done an outstanding job for more than a year now, providing us quotidian comic relief as we witness, in real time, the slow and painful decay of American democracy in the span of an election cycle.

The bigoted, tax-evading, orange non-billionaire versus the policy wonk, server-luddite love child of Washington and Wall Street — the comedy writes itself. If that wasn’t enough, I present to you: Nigel Farage of Brexit fame, global-big-brother Putin, Mike Duffy, Rob Ford, etc.

With the election drawing closer, Halloween can be a trite ritual or a truly memorable and kooky affair; but that requires you to worry less about who you’re going to offend with an outspoken costume, and more about what you want to express. Jemima Khan, a British reporter, did just that on the red carpet of UNICEF’s Halloween Ball, when she dressed up as Melania Trump — with a dummy of Donald Trump on her back, groping her privates.

The rest of the costumes at the ball were cute — and totally forgettable. Naturally, in a pool of mundanity, social media went gaga over Khan’s costume. While the others were aiming to play it safe and wear something tacky but not too controversial, Khan saw the event as a platform to raise awareness of the disturbing allegations against Trump through a striking visual. She wasn’t wearing a costume; she wore a confident political statement.

Halloween is perhaps the only major event on the calendar where you can make what you wear matter. But you still see the overwhelming majority of Halloweeners playing it safe with low-impact costumes. Perhaps they’re worried that they may not fetch as high a return on trick-or-treating if their costumes strike the wrong chord with people.

The modern rationalist has grown opinionated but wary to step on anyone’s toes; meanwhile, bigotry runs rampant with greater fervour than ever before. This holiday is a brief opportunity to try and resurrect the paralyzed “contest of ideas,” no matter our ideology or leanings.

What’s the worst that could happen if you expressed yourself? You might get lewd comments or a few people flipping the bird at you. But I’m certain you could make a hell of a lot more people stop and think, and that’s worthwhile.

Go ahead and wrap a dark, body-length poster around yourself and roam town in protest of the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Or dress as a makeshift home made of fake dollar bills to draw attention to rising house prices. For cat owners looking to pull off a Khan, you could stick little orange hands on your pets and take them trick-or-treating with you. The possibilities are endless.

There’s already a weekend set in the calendar when you gather around people of different ideological wavelengths who are vaguely related to you, eat a bird, and absolutely avoid even the slightest of political comments — it’s called Thanksgiving. But I believe Halloween could be the opposite: a time where you’re free to wear your politics on your sleeves, and be unafraid to make a point.