Halloween weekend is finally here! Do you know what you’re going to dress up as? If so, think about your costume.
What I’ve seen at recent Halloween celebrations and parties is that costumes are usually creative and funny. Sometimes though, you do see those costumes that cross the line.
And organization called “Students Teaching Against Racism” (STARS) at Ohio University created a set of posters specifically showing racist Halloween costumes. The tagline “We’re a Culture, Not a Costume” shows the strong message and importance behind these advertisements that STARS created.
A incident similar to what STARS is talking about is what happened just last year at UW-Madison. The student-run Badger Herald newspaper ran this image on their front page on the Monday, November 1 edition, the first paper released after Halloween celebrations in Madison.
What I see from looking at these two examples is that they are on opposite sides of the spectrum when looking at ethics in advertising and publication.
The STARS ads show an emotional campaign that brings to light a serious issue, racism, that happens in our country every day.
According to Melissa Sipin, writer for the blog Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, she states that STARS’ mission is “to educate and facilitate discussion about racism and to promote racial harmony and to create a safe, non-threatening environment to allow participants to feel comfortable to express their feelings.”
By saying “This is not who I am, and this is NOT OKAY,” I think STARS’ advertisements do a great job expressing their mission statement to the public.
On the other hand, I also believe an issue like racism can be dealt with very poorly in the journalism and media world. The image from the Badger Herald’s after-Halloween front cover shows an image of a white male, dressed as an Native American man, stereotypically with a boom box and face paint and “Indian” accessories.
In this situation, I believe another picture could have been used on the front cover. Even if you think a picture might cross the line of being racially offensive, I personally would reconsider finding an alternative.
With these two publications in mind, do advertisements like STARS’ successfully state their message to their audience? Also, what kind of ethical guidelines should be followed in response to the Badger Herald’s racially offensive picture?
Source: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind