Cultural appropriation and various forms of blackface are usually what's dredged up from the place of all things offensive and tacky for Halloween, but this year's Ebola outbreak seems to be attracting the attention of trick-or-treaters looking to up their game when it comes to the distasteful.
According to the Associated Press, fake protective gear like hazmat suits and respirators is all the rage on social media, particularly Twitter, and the specter of partygoers dressed as Ebola zombies for Halloween is rubbing some the wrong way.
The deadly virus, which has killed more than 4,000 in West Africa, recently made its way to the U.S. through now-deceased patient Thomas Eric Duncan. It is believed that Duncan, a Liberian resident, contracted the disease while helping a neighbor. He then made the trek from Liberia to visit family in Dallas, where he became ill. After Duncan's death, it was discovered that a Dallas nurse who had treated him was diagnosed with the disease.
"Normally I think that irony and humor is funny, but this thing with the costumes, is it really that funny? I mean, Ebola's not even under control yet," Philadelphia physician's assistant Maria McKenna told AP, adding that the idea "definitely rubs [her] the wrong way."
According to the news wire, after many Halloween celebrants got over last year's significantly less inflammatory Breaking Bad meth-lab phase, retailers had tons of hazmat-style costumes that could be "repurposed" for Ebola-themed costumes. However, the news wire says it's still not clear that this will actually be a thing.
"I wouldn't say we can see an uptick in sales. I'd say it's still chugging along because it's a good seller no matter what," Richard Parrott, president of costume seller Ricky's NYC, told AP regarding sales of Breaking Bad outfits. "But people are definitely asking about an Ebola-type costume."
Parrott acknowledges that the retailer had considered selling an Ebola costume and donating some of the proceeds toward finding a cure, but in the end it was decided that "it probably crosses a line that we don't want to cross," he said.
However, according to AP, such concerns did not deter costume seller Brands on Sale, which peddles the "Ebola Containment Suit Costume" online for $79.99.
"You are sure to be prepared if any outbreak happens at your Halloween party. This will literally be the most 'viral' costume of the year," the description raves.
Read more at the Associated Press.