Not every TV show makes a great Halloween costume.
Every year, millions of Americans put on Halloween costumes based on popular figures from the news and pop culture. Whether it’s Stranger Things characters, Squid Game contestants, The Los Espookys crew, or the Rockford Peaches, costumes inspired by TV shows are in every year. But not every TV show is or should be fair game.
One of this year’s most popular – and controversial – shows has been Ryan Murphy’s Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story on Netflix. But just because everyone’s talking about it, and Evan Peters has an easy-to-replicate look as the serial killer, that doesn’t mean dressing as this real-life killer who tortured and murdered 17 men and boys (many of whom are Black and gay) is a good idea. In fact, it’s actually a pretty awful idea. Why, you ask?
One family member, Shirley Hughes, the mother of Tony Hughes, who was one of Dahmer’s victims portrayed in the show, has already spoken out about the possibility of Dahmer Halloween costumes.
Hughes told TMZ that “it’s already super triggering to see a hit Netflix series about the serial killer, much less folks dressing like the killer.”
While larger chain stores aren’t selling any Dahmer costumes, people have taken to eBay to sell retro shirts, wigs, and wire-frame glasses, marketing them as “Jeffrey Dahmer Cosplay Costume Halloween Props.”
Thankfully, eBay took down those items, as they violated its policy against “items closely associated with or that benefit violent felons, their acts, or crime scenes within the past 100 years.”
Another problem with making Dahmer into a pop culture figure, rather than a white man who brutally raped and murdered young men, 11 of them Black, is that crimes like his still affect the Black community today.
A big part of the reason why Dahmer was able to kill so many victims was that he targeted young, Black, gay men — people who, when crimes are committed against them, are and were ignored by police. The trauma is still happening.
Ed Buck, a wealthy and white California Democratic donor was recently charged with the murders of two Black gay men after he injected them with methamphetamine. But the charges came after years of rumors and rumblings that Buck would regularly target Black gay men and drug them.
Black gay men and their families don’t need to be reminded that monsters like Dahmer exist — they still are preying on their communities.
Dressing as Dahmer for Halloween isn’t clever or funny. It’s not even edgy or “dark.” It’s only insulting, violent, traumatizing, and cruel. And that’s not what Halloween is about.