When is a costume ""too soon?"" We've all joked, cried and projectile vomited about the crucial question. But, as with the war in Iraq, there can be no standardized timetable to redeploy costumes from distasteful to hilarious.
Some feel there should be a Halloween code of conduct stating costume wearers must wait at least one year after a celebrity's passing to impersonate them for Halloween. However, before briskly walking away, a random girl I asked in Grainger said it was never too soon.
What's the standard we Badgers must operate under while purchasing leftovers from Ragstock and ransacking our mothers' closets? The legend that was a ticket-less Halloween can only be remembered by the senile seniors. But a Freakfest ticket is not a contract of submission to The Man. Where else will you find a $7 ticket to a decent concert? Although this is the first year almost all UW students have never experienced a free Halloween on State Street, our city has a reputation as one of the biggest and best Halloween parties in the country. If we want to keep up our image as a top spot on All Hallow's Eve, a steep standard of decorum must be upheld when it comes to impersonating deceased stars.
Consideration of flatlined celebrities' attitudes is integral to costume appropriateness. Billy Mays would feel honored by the plethora of costumes in his likeness; the man is beating that Australian Sham Wow whacka from the grave.
However, the means of passing may occasionally be inappropriate to display in conjunction with a celebrity's likeness. Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin costume with matching sting ray wound? Sounds like the definition of ""too soon."" The man was recently canonized in Australia and children look up to him even six feet under.
What about dressing as the late Ted Kennedy? ""It does give you an excuse to bring alcohol onto State Street,"" observed one UW student. But add cranial scars to that parade float-sized head you're wearing, and you're sporting a ""too soon.""
If you're concerned your costume is ""too soon,"" try this year's fad: a fully living Marsh Shapiro, proprietor of the Nitty Gritty. Sport out of character short shorts, a tight fitting Nitty t-shirt, and Dick Cheney fangs to scare off regular customers. There's little need to consider reputations of the living. Perhaps a nice Biddy Martin get-up would impress your friends.
Presidents before JFK are standard appropriate costumes. Wheelchair-bound FDR with a harem of vamps and flappers—never too soon. Just don't forget your martini.
One costume is destined to be the most hackneyed, repulsive costume of the season—Michael Jackson. There will be plenty of variety—MJ with wine-sipping Macaulay Culkin, Michael and a pill-toting doctor, Jackson 5 edition Michael, Michael holding his infant son Blanket over a balcony, perhaps even a Jackson family complete with half-exposed Janet Jackson. But is it too soon to moonwalk down State Street with one bedazzled glove? Not for a true fan.
As you stumble up and down State Street this weekend, know there are worse fates than paying $7 for Freakfest. Those $7 dollars get you in to jam out to Third Eye Blind. $7 for a time machine trip back to eighth grade sounds like a great value. Freakfest is more than just walking on a public sidewalk. Not to mention, who doesn't pine for a Facebook profile picture with cops on horseback?
Is it worth it to have big name bands like O.A.R. and Third Eye Blind play Freakfest? Why not hire less than the 110 private event staff used this year and book bands with smaller salaries? Ticket prices could drop significantly, but there would still be entertainment to make the festivities involve more than binge drinking and ogling suggestive costumes. With 30,000 to 40,000 expected to attend, it would be difficult to negate the costs of Madison Police out in full force. The city will not likely go back to covering the costs of the increased attendance and accompanying police. If we continue having tickets to fund police overtime, they might as well charge a few bucks extra to bring in musical entertainment.
The real cost associated with Halloween in Madison is the risk of being exposed to friends and neighbors masquerading as a pill-popping Heath Ledger. Or even more tacky and ""too soon,"" Farah Fawcett dressed as an angel.
If you see a dead version of Brett Favre or a living Billy Mays, say ""hi"" and let me be the one to judge the appropriateness of your offensive celebrity costume. Happy Halloween. Stay classy, Madison.
Jamie Stark is a sophomore intending to major in journalism and political science. Please send responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.