Going from scary to tacky

Published 11:06 am Tuesday, October 28, 2014

“Ewww!” my wife said when I told her BrandsOnSale.com is marketing leftover “Breaking Bad” meth lab hazmat suits as Ebola Containment Suits this Halloween, at $79.99 a pop.

These suits are just part of a trend (call it tacky, insensitive, creepy, gross) that includes Zombie Robin Williams masks, party-goers dressed as disgraced former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (dragging around an inflatable wife), groups of friends dressing up as doomed Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 passengers and the guy in Boise, Idaho with the decapitated President Obama in his front yard.

Yes, folks are obsessed with costumes “ripped from today’s headlines,” no matter how fresh the wound they exploit. At least in the good old days when someone ripped a costume from the headlines, they dressed as a City Councilman Scheduling Hearings For The Proposed Sewer Bonds Issue. Correct me if I’m wrong, but kids in 1945 weren’t chanting, “Trick-or-treat, smell my feet, this simulated Bataan Death March is really neat.”

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The reality of today is getting closer and closer to the satire of yesterday. Remember 1977 when Dan Aykroyd on “Saturday Night Live” portrayed huckster Irwin Mainway? Mainway’s Halloween wares (Invisible Pedestrian, Johnny Human Torch, Johnny Combat Action Costume with real M-1 rifle and Johnny Space Commander mask, i.e. a plastic bag with a rubber band) don’t seem so outlandish in today’s climate.

A spokesperson for BrandsOnSale.com insisted that spoilsports who get squeamish about the Ebola suits just don’t “get” the holiday; Halloween excesses are our way of mocking our fear of death. (Yeah, we really stick it to Death, because our ever-growing Halloween expenses leave us unable to pay for our funeral!)

The spokesperson defended the suits as a continuation of the grand old tradition of Halloween being a time to “laugh all the way to the b– um, er I mean whistle past the graveyard.”

No, back in the day, we whistled past the graveyard. Now there’s always some jerk who metaphorically drives past the graveyard with the stereo blasting, the engine roaring and piles of litter being tossed from the floorboard.

One guy got defensive about his Ebola suit. (“Let’s put this in perspective. Those 4,500 patients in West Africa got a permanent escape from their humdrum daily lives. After my one big night of escape and being the life of the party, I have to go back to my boring job running the drive-thru window. Life isn’t fair.”)

Of course this year’s timely costumes compete with the ongoing popularity of seductress outfits, worn by supposedly grown women who think the ultimate goal of a librarian, doctor, judge or police officer is to be “totally hot.”

Some of the women also insist on living vicariously through their little girls, dressing them in more and more risque outfits. Now the age-old question “What are you supposed to be dressed as, little girl?” is being replaced with “Can you break a twenty? Because I’m fresh out of singles for that G-string.”)

Wait, there’s more. According to USA Today, Americans will spend $350 million on costumes for their pets. Fair enough — until you consider the trend toward “sexy” pet costumes. One example is a dog dress with a busty fake chest. It’s the evolution of American slang; we’ve gone from “that’s one sick puppy” to “that’s one sick master” in just a few years.



Danny Tyree welcomes reader email responses at tyreetyrades@aol.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.” Danny’s’ weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.