In one of life’s greatest ironies, an event that celebrates people coming back from the dead has now killed itself.
Its tragic passing was confirmed yesterday when Olympic snowboarder Shaun White made a grovelling public apology for his Halloween costume.
Or rather, he was bullied into making it.
White’s crime was to dress up as Simple Jack, the goofy village idiot character depicted by Ben Stiller in ‘Tropic Thunder’.
Jack was a deliberate parody of other movie characters like Forrest Gump or Raymond from ‘Rain Man’.
Stiller plays actor Tugg Speedman, who purposely takes on the role of gibbering farm hand Simple Jack in a cynical bid to win an Oscar.
I didn’t find Jack – or the movie for that matter – particularly funny, but nor did I find him ‘offensive’. The film makes a very good point about Hollywood’s hypocrisy.
Yet White’s decision to go as Simple Jack to a Halloween party, and then post the picture on Instagram, caused outrage.
Soeren Palumbo, co-founder of the Special Olympics’ Spread the Word to End the Word campaign said in a statement: ‘We are truly disappointed that Shaun White, an acclaimed Olympian, would choose this costume which is so offensive and causes to much pain. Disability is not a joke, nor should it be a punchline. We hope that Shaun White and others learn that this just continues stigma, stereotypes and discrimination.’
That’s quite a statement, isn’t it?
Sportsman dresses up as a parody movie character for a party and is promptly demonised as the offensive, pain-inducing enemy of tolerance.
Of course, social media immediately frothed itself into ‘faux outrage’ mode and demanded various forms of punishment for White ranging from public apology to public stoning.
And equally inevitably, he bowed to the mob and deleted the photo.
‘I owe everyone in the Special Olympics community an apology for my poor choice of Halloween costume the other night,’ he said. ‘It was a last minute decision. It was the wrong one. The Special Olympics are right to call me out on it, they do great work supporting many tremendous athletes and I am so sorry for being insensitive. Lesson learned.’
What lesson have you learned, Shaun? That nobody is allowed to dress up as an ‘inappropriate’ movie character on Halloween any more?
Isn’t the whole bloody point of Halloween to be inappropriate?
Ben Stiller, who was similarly attacked when the movie came out 10 years ago, explained yesterday: ‘It was always meant to make fun of actors trying to do anything to win awards.’
Well, of course it was!
As the film’s writer Etan Cohen said at the time: ‘Some people have taken this as making fun of handicapped people, but we’re really trying to make fun of the actors who use this material as fodder for acclaim.’
Yet once people are instructed to believe something’s ‘offensive’ these days, they quickly work themselves into a lather of fury.
We saw a similar outcry last week when Megyn Kelly pondered aloud on her now cancelled NBC show why it’s considered so wrong for white people to blacken their faces on Halloween to portray famous black people.
‘What is racist?’ she asked. ‘Because you do get into trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween, or a black person who puts on whiteface on Halloween. When I was a kid, that was okay as long as you were dressing up like a character.’