In the annual dash to find a clever or traditionally nostalgic Halloween costume, I have conjured up one that fits neither class, but lies in a somewhat controversial one. A clever costume entails a subtle joke or paradox in its presentation, such as a pregnant nun. Traditional ones are the more mainstream, but uninspiring pirate, ghost, or monster. Some are more unconventional and follow an imaginative progression, like a pizza man or a Chippendale dancer.
My possibly disputable costume is that of the primary notorious face in the news today, Osama bin Laden. The question that endlessly surfaces is, “Is it so controversial that it is disrespectful?” My standpoint is that the bin Laden costume is not ill mannered for several reasons, most dealing with the fact that bin Laden is a ludicrous leader who practically begs to be caricatured.
Granted, the Sept. 11 attack on America will always be a scar on the nation’s heart, and it is never appropriate to undermine such a disaster. I am not, challenging the fact that these events were tragic ones. The question I propose is, “Is it so wrong to make fun of the enemy?” The costume is simply slandering Osama, and I wonder where our adolescent sense of putting down our adversaries has gone. Many will say that in some individuals, this sense waned with arrival of adulthood.
Yet Halloween is not exactly an adult’s holiday, so I say it is appropriate to undermine our opponent while being careful not to undermine the tragedy he caused. It has been documented that the most popular mask in past years has been that of Richard Nixon, and he was an American president.
My goal in dressing up as Mr. bin Laden is to prove my point of how outlandish his persona is. Do people notice that he is compulsively clad in camouflage and with an AK-47 slung across his body? The green real tree camouflage he wears is not even appropriate for the kind of terrain in Afghanistan, with its desert terrain. If he were intelligent in his attempted disguise, he would wear the khaki camo design that our troops sported in the Persian Gulf War. It is the equivalent of George W. Bush carrying a M-16 rifle with him wherever he goes, and that image is downright sidesplitting. I think bin Laden is trying to make up for his 6’5″ 160 pound body with an impressive arsenal. Oh, Osama, you are so militant.
Since I do get a sense that people will be offended, I have taken steps to represent our enemy in a preposterous fashion to make it more palatable. First, I have acquired a turquoise Turbie Twist, an “as seen on TV” product to dry women’s hair to act as my dazzling turban. I will apply a beard and moustache, since I didn’t have enough time to grow my own long elegant beard like Osama’s. I will also apply a latex bullet wound to my forehead to announce that I am not celebrating his character, but demonstrating President Bush’s “dead or alive” rhetoric. To further exemplify that I am not pro-Taliban, I will wear a U.S.A. t-shirt with old glory waving freely, beneath my flowing robe.
There are variants of Halloween in many different cultures, and in ours, it is essentially just a way to dress up as someone else. It is a method of exorcising our demons and to face our own suppressed fears. If people will see my costume and take offense, I hope they will realize that our opponent Osama is one to be made fun of, and that I do this successfully.