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Shock Value--What Halloween Costumes Cross the Line?

Lenny Bruce once said that comedy was tragedy plus time. For many, that maxim does not apply to Halloween.

| BY Donald Liebenson

Nothing says zeitgeist like Halloween costumes. Like a classic “Law & Order” episode, some of the hottest and, in some cases, controversial costumes are ripped from today’s headlines and created to scare up some sick laughs.

Take the costume that’s gone viral (please): Brands on Sale’s Ebola Containment Suit Costume ($79.99), which comes complete with face shield, breathing mask and safety eye goggles (“You are sure to be prepared if any outbreak happens at your Halloween party,” according to the company website’s costume description.”

Another timely costume currently ranked as among Brands on Sale’s Most Popular is the Ice Bucket Challenge Costume ($39.99), which comes with a bucket with “faux water film,” a white tulle tunic with faux ice cubes, and a cube tray.

At Chicago Costume, the most requested Halloween costumes are pop culture driven and based on popular movies and television shows: “Frozen” for girls, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” for boys, and for adult women, “Orange is the New Black.” Requests for hazmat suits is not related to Ebola, but to the television show, “Breaking Bad,” General Manager Courtland Hickey told Millionaire Corner.

Lenny Bruce once said that comedy was tragedy plus time. For many, that maxim does not apply to Halloween. The fresher the news, the greater the shock value.  Available from Amazon is an “Amanda Bynes Style Costume Wig,” a messy blonde wig that recalls the one the troubled actress, who was recently confined to a mental health facility following a breakdown that played out on Twitter, wore in one of her many recent court appearances.

But that pales to a Ray Rice costume that Buzzfeed proclaimed to be “the worst thing you can dress as for Halloween this year.” The costume consists of a Ray Rice football jersey and a blow-up doll (sold separately) to be dragged around in a reenactment of the horrific security footage that captured the disgraced Baltimore Ravens running back punching his wife.

“There are certain lines that people shouldn’t cross, like blackface,” Hickey said. “Common sense (regarding Halloween costumes) is a general rule. It all depends on the crowd and kind of person you are.”

Related story: Halloween costumes for you and your pets

About the Author

Donald Liebenson

Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.  

A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.