Happy Halloween, dear fans! I’m sure you’ve seen a plethora of crazy costumes this Halloween weekend. But one costume that’s stirred a lot of debate among us AbFob bloggers is the “Asian” costume. I was at a bar on Friday night and saw a white dude dressed in a traditional Chinese silk shirt, with a hat/wig of a long, black braid of hair. Then, he started doing an awkward karate-chop dance.
But what if an Asian person wore his or her traditional dress for Halloween? What if it was an Asian girl wearing a sexy geisha-inspired costume? Is that different than if a white girl wore that same geisha costume? At what point does the costume become a trivialization, and perhaps even ignorant mockery, of someone’s culture?
In Japan, black people are often exoticized on TV. Often done for comedic effect, Japanese actors paint their face dark brown and perform in extremely stereotyped ways. For most of us in the US, blackface depictions of African Americans, like the one below, are starkly offensive.
It’s a thin and ambiguous line to draw. Perhaps the judgment call for this is similar to when Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart tried to define the difference between nudity and pornography — “You know it when you see it.”