Archive for random

Offensive Halloween Costume Ideas: Why Should White People Have All the Fun?

Posted in Musings with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2011 by brucepoinsette

Racist costumes have become a hallmark of Halloween, especially on college campuses. Not long ago, I even remember running across an “Crips and Bloods Party” in my Facebook news feed. Students at Ohio University have chosen to start a campaign with posters saying, “This is not who I am and it is not okay.” However, a friend of mine suggested it might be more educational if we invited real Crips and Bloods to one of these events.

In the spirit of peace and snark, I came up with another solution, white stereotype costumes. If some white people are having so much fun with stereotypes then why should people of color not get to have a little fun too?

All it takes is a little creativity and you can have your very own offensive white costume. Just get some whiteface makeup and let your imagination and/or historical references flow.

Here are some ideas:

Police officer: Slutty cops and the dude from Reno 911 are pretty cliche at this point. Why not make it a little more realistic. You can use the same cop outfit you would find at any Target or Value Village. Just grab a plastic bag of sugar and make a “How to Fry a Nigger Manual” book cover to carry around with you.

Missionary: Surprisingly, the missionary doesn’t get that much play during Halloween. It’s easy to do too. The clothes can be wide ranging. What’s really important is that you have a Bible and dirty blanket.

Catholic Priest: Keeping with religion, the priest is more common, although quite tame on Halloween. To liven things up, just get a baby doll, preferably male, and make it into a hand puppet.

Overseer: The classic plantation overseer is another relatively simple costume idea. Find a derby, a button down shirt, some slacks and get a whip. If you want to make it more realistic, get a black female blow-up doll and decorate it with black eyes and red paint on the panties.

“I’m not racist but” kid: Getting back to current times, you could dress up as that person everyone knows, who will preface every offensive statement with, “I’m not racist but *insert the most racist thing you’ve ever heard here*”. Simply get a white t-shirt and write “I’m not racist but” with an arrow pointing to the back under it. Then on the back, feel free to write the most foul thing you can think of.

Hipster: Some people might wonder how a hipster could be offensive. If you live around the Portland area, you’ve probably noticed them quietly flooding formerly black neighborhoods like it’s nothing. To portray this image simply get some skinny jeans and whatever other tacky clothes you can find. To accentuate your costume, get some fried chicken and Alberta Street (or whatever historically black neighborhood is near you) mortgage papers.

“That” white girl at the club: If you’ve been out to the bar, club, or wherever to get your night life on then you’ve seen this person. Just get some regular hoe attire, a bottle of any hard liquor and a summer sausage in a glass jar.

Skinhead: If you want to add an addition to “that white girl”, try being her angry white supremacist boyfriend. Just get an orange jumpsuit, paint your hair to match the whiteface makeup and draw some Nazi tattoos on your neck. Perhaps even add some self inflicted bullet wounds.

Klansman: No negative white stereotype costume list would be complete without a Klansman. Just get a bed sheet, a rope to tie into a noose, a toy pony and a Bible. If you want to go all out, you could have your own version of those “Crips and Bloods Parties”. Simply invite every white person you know, burn some crosses and string up a black doll with one of the nooses. I think there use to be a word for these parties but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Oh yeah, a lynching.

Bonus

For extra points, you could go beyond stereotypes and impersonate some historical characters:

Thomas Jefferson: All you need is a powder wig, some Revolutionary War reenactment attire and the aforementioned black blow up doll with black eyes and bloody panties.

J. Edgar Hoover: Just get a suit and a Martin Luther King mask. Instead of putting the mask on yourself, put it on a mannequin head to carry around with you. This will require some extensive forehead makeup.

Oliver North: This costume might be a little difficult because it will require some type of military outfit. Preferably one that resembles a high ranking officer. After you acquire that, get the same bag of sugar from the aforementioned police costume and you’ll be set.

Rick Perry: Lastly, you could imitate current events. Simply find a hunting outfit and tape the words “Property of Niggerhead Ranch” on the back of your vest.

Freud’s Uncanny and Hero Worship

Posted in Musings with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2011 by brucepoinsette

According to Sigmund Freud, “The uncanny is that class of the frightening which leads back to what is known of old and long familiar.” In other words, when an event occurs that confirms an infantile fear, it is uncanny. For example, if you’re scared of plane crashes (despite the virtually nil chance of them happening) and you see a commercial airliner go down on the news, your mind will justify your irrational fright.

Hope works the same way. We put our faith in people or things that take us back to “Superman” expectations that rationality should’ve long since erased.

Freud, in his piece “The Uncanny,” says the essential factor in uncanny feelings is intellectual uncertainty. When we’re vulnerable and uncertain, we cling to hope.

This is most often expressed through religious fanaticism but also explains hero worship.

Freud exemplifies the uncanny through E.T.A. Hoffman’s story of the Sandman, a madman who tears out the eyes of children, which is figurative form of castration. The fear of castration reproduces itself as an uncanny feeling when a man is emasculated in real life.

Instead of the Sand-Man, hope produces the Super Man. This is generally a person who comes along and gives us hope he/she can lift us up when we are vulnerable.

We create heroes based on our own limitations and desires. Often we exaggerate their stories or hold on to myths about them to maintain the uncanny feeling.

For example, when Tupac Shakur was the victim of a robbery in 1994, the official story was that he was shot five times by the assailants. Many use this story of survival to convey the legend of Shakur.

However, in the book “Snitch: Informants, Cooperators, and the Corruption of Justice” author Ethan Brown disputes the widely accepted narrative. He asserts that Shakur was shot in the hand when he grabbed for one robber’s gun and accidentally shot himself in the groin while trying to pull out his own. Brown notes that the medical examiner was not able to release a full report because of the wishes of Shakur’s family, which allowed Shakur to tell a more harrowing story.

Once Shakur becomes human because of a differing account of the story, it reminds us that the black superhero doesn’t exist. It extinguishes the uncanny feeling of hope for such a presence, which many cling to because of the long history of black activists being murdered in the US.

Author Manning Marable caused similar controversy when he released “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” earlier this year. Malcolm is a cultural icon, whose legend has been exaggerated in both his autobiography and Spike Lee’s biopic.

In these works, Malcolm X was portrayed as an uneducated black boy who became a notable hustler and then learned to read in jail before becoming arguably the most influential black leader in history. Marable countered these claims by noting that Malcolm was always a student of Marcus Garvey’s teachings because his parents were followers.  Similarly, while Malcolm was portrayed to have an unflinching stance, Marable asserts that he often second guessed himself. Other claims in the book include bisexual behavior during the hustling days and infidelity.

These assertions certainly go against the godlike portrayal of Malcolm in the autobiography and movie. However, they don’t make him any less important.

What made this superhuman image so effective was that it gave young freedom fighters something to strive to be. The idea that it was completely real played on our childlike urges for a mythical prophet.

There’s a scene in “The Life of David Gale” where Kevin Spacey asserts that living by ideals is the point of life. He says fantasies have to be unrealistic because once we get what we seek it’s no longer a fantasy. Thus, he says we must live by ideals and and measure the significance of our own lives by valuing the lives of others.

This is the ideal contained in feelings of hope. Once we find someone or something to believe in, usually when we’re at our most vulnerable, we have to maintain an unattainable image of our hero.

As soon as the Super Man becomes mortal it figuratively castrates believers. These people lived their lives and saw their aspirations through the hero. They too become mortal and limited once the superhero image no longer exists.

While it would be easy to tell people to stick to rational desires, it is human nature to fantasize. This desire is what underlies the entire spectrum of political rhetoric. All sides crave total power and/or harmony, which are both unattainable.

Some strive for these goals to the point where they can’t live without them. Often they become martyrs and are transformed into ideals they never achieved in life.

Even the world’s most powerful people are rarely satisfied. As long as you can hope for more than the feeling of hope is irrational.

However, irrational desires are what motivate society. Thus, the uncanny feelings of fear and hope will persist because complete harmony and total satisfaction don’t exist.

To Catch a Set Up

Posted in Musings with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2011 by brucepoinsette

Despite Mark Zuckerberg and advertisers’ claims that all data sharing on Facebook is benign, I never really bought it. Giving companies access to members’ extensive personal data can lead to abuse. After getting two pieces of highly personal spam on Monday I’ve become much more wary of the practice.

Spam is relatively easy to pick out. It often comes in the form of private messages or friend requests from girls with scandalous modeling shots. They tend to have ten or so friends who are mostly guys with shirtless mirror pictures (It’s 2011. Stop that!). Their info is questionable. For example, I got a request a couple weeks ago from a girl claiming to have attended Portland High School (If you’re not from the area, Portland High School doesn’t exist).

Their personal messages tend to contain variations of the phrases “I’m new to Facebook”, “I think you’re cute” and “Don’t be shy”.

Thus, when I received these messages from a girl with the aforementioned characteristics, I already knew the drill:

“hey Bruce,
so we totally do not know each other, and i am kinda new to the facebook thing.. coz idk it’s really not my thing.. I prefer twitter.. or face to face interaction..but anyways i am pretty sure you are the guy who used to write articles for your college for OU… i just wanna say a job well done it always got my sisters buzzing and talking.. my sister still goes to OU but anyways I wanted to let you know job well done.. and also I think you are super cute.. and i do not know many brave black guys in eugene who speak up like u.. thats really daring, i read a lot and i just love that you get your message across.. is it true that you are taken? anyways do not be shy.. to reply, i am curious to hear what your response will be..”

“so u are the faithful type thats cool coz most men jump at the chance to get with me.. well it only makes me want to get to know u more.. i love a challenge…”

My first instinct was to click the “Spam” button and leave it at that because I love my girl and am faithful. I also find it weird when a stranger replies to her own message as if you responded.

However, the personal nature of the messages made me examine the situation further.

I asked friends from college and the Portland area whether they recognized the girl’s name and no one did.

Then I reflected on my days as a student columnist at the Oregon Daily Emerald. At no time was my writing attracting groupies. Social commentary doesn’t exactly get panties wet.

It seemed that whoever was behind these messages did their research and made a real effort in stroking my ego.

However, I couldn’t escape the coincidence that it came the day after a Facebook chat session with some friends where we joked about creating the Jailed Masons Party and being monitored, among other things.

The clincher came on Tuesday when my girlfriend’s cousin told me the mysterious girl had added him as a friend too. He said she told him about her fascination with me and how she seeks out men in relationships.

I’ve seen enough episodes of To Catch a Predator to smell a setup when I see one. In the words of KRS-One, “Don’t trust a big butt and a smile.”

I have no idea why I would be targeted for an Anthony Weiner trap. Perhaps it’s for a hidden camera show or it could be the setup for a robbery. It might just be the newest method for putting viruses in computers.

Whatever the case may be, it exposes the vulnerability of the data we make available through Facebook. We have no idea who is poring over it nor do we know their intentions.

Considering that groups like Anonymous (Who I support, just in case any members are reading this) have mentioned plans to hack into Facebook and expose these vulnerabilities, it’s important to understand the implications of our data being shared with whoever Zuckerberg chooses.

Besides companies, who are constantly looking for ways to raise profits, there are authorities and other shady characters watching you at all times. The Obama Administration has even pushed for wiretapping to be a feature of the social network.

These mysterious entities know your tendencies better than many of the people you see on a daily basis. Don’t we have a right to know who they are and what they’re looking at?

It’s not everyday that people make it known they’re watching you. I’d like to keep it that way.