Over the past 10 months, our nation has had a fairly high share of scandals and painful moments of public reckoning, which you might be tempted to skewer via costume this upcoming Halloween night. Before making your decision, though, it's important to consider the impact your choice might have.
Don't despair—I'm not just here to tell you pre-emptively you're being offensive. I'm also here to give you some creative alternatives to try instead. Because Halloween should be fun. But that fun shouldn't come at the expense of a marginalized group, nor cost you your job once the photos hit the 'Gram.
Don't: Drunken Brett Kavanaugh
Now-Justice Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual assault, lied under oath and was so all-around rotten that people all over the country were compelled to share their past traumas in order to stop him from being appointed to the Supreme Court. It didn't work and now we're probably stuck with him for a very long time.
Alternative: Rob Lowe, St. Elmo's Fire
If you're wanting to play a bad guy on Halloween, it's better to go with fictional characters. That's why Rob Lowe's character in St. Elmo's Fire, Billy, is a great choice. Like Kavanaugh, he's a frat guy and he's sleazy, but he can also play a mean saxophone. To pull this look off all you need is a yellow tank top, some bat appliqués, a red sweatband and an inflatable sax. Now you've got yourself a bad boy who isn't making a farce of our judiciary.
Don't: Lascivious Catholic Priest
There isn't a way to do this without making light of the abuse. If you were thinking this might be a clever costume, this is one of those times when you should stop and ask, "Do I really want to spend an entire evening dressed as a pedophile?"
Alternative: Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir
If you like the idea of dressing as clergy, consider going as Reverend Billy, who, along with his choir, has been speaking out against the injustices of child labor, predatory banks, global warming and deportation for decades now, using music and performance-art theatrics delivered with unbridled joy. His signature look of white pants, white coat, black turtleneck, white collar and shock of platinum blond hair would be comfortable, practical and instantly recognizable to the coolest kinds of people.
Don't: ICE Agent
Immigration and Customs Enforcement was formed in 2002 as part of the Homeland Security Act in the wake of 9/11, so there's never been a time in its history where it wasn't associated with terrorizing Muslim and Latinx communities. Not only would ICE costumes be construed as racist and intimidating, they're also really boring and not very creative.
Alternative: The San Patricios, aka the Saint Patrick's Battalion
If you want to look like a badass on Halloween, you can do worse than paying homage to a really brave group of soldiers who fought for an important cause. During the Mexican-American War, a group of American soldiers, many of whom were Catholics who had been prevented from practicing their religion in the Army, deserted the United States and took up arms in defense of Mexico. They consisted of Irish and German immigrants and runaway slaves, and were dubbed the "San Patricios." To pull off this look you need a leather vest, a watch chain, a cowboy hat, trousers and one of those giant, old-timey mustaches. To complete the look, get yourself one of those cool Irish flags with the harp that says "Erin Go Bragh," since this is the flag that they carried into battle.
Don't: Gay Trump & Putin
Since 2016, it's been a thing to make fun of Trump and Putin as lovers. It's really not helpful in any way. If you were thinking this would be a funny buddy or couple's costume, I'm here to tell you right now it's not humorous. At all. It's gross, immature and lazy. Don't do it.
Alternative: Larry and Balki from Perfect Strangers
This year, pay tribute to those late-'80s, early-'90s exemplars of pure, familial love. Besides, two white guys in their 20s with business casual wardrobes who work at a consignment shop is about as Portland as it gets, so this look shouldn't be too hard to pull together. Get to the nearest thrift store and score some pleated pants, an ugly knit sweater and suspenders if you're Balki. Fluff you're hair and you're ready to do the dance of joy.
Don't: Prison-Jumpsuit Bill Cosby
No, just no.
Alternative: Almost anything else
You could take a red sweatsuit and write "KETCHUP" across the chest and it would be much nicer than stepping into that hornet's nest.