Some Halloween costumes are funny. Some are sexy. Some are neither. And some destroy the concepts of humor and sex appeal just by existing.
It’s a holiday tradition: every year around this time, feminists and cultural critics write scathingly critical articles about how 80% of the pre-made costumes marketed to women are “Sexy [noun]” like some kind of Mad Libs of creepy objectification, consisting of a vague nod in the direction of their subject, accompanied by as much skin as possible. There is frequently a sidebar noting that scaled-down version of these banal stripper outfits are available in kids’ sizes, because that’s not creepy at all. And lord knows all that’s true, but as we like to point out around here, that’s only half the story.
Men’s costumes tend to be less skin-baring, meaning that if we buy a Batman outfit we will look roughly like Batman, not Batman if he got half his outfit stolen by mischievous elves. This is because there isn’t the same cultural pressure on men to be sexy. Indeed, there is usually the opposite assumption, that sexiness is women’s job and men have exactly one thing about them that’s sexually attractive. And here’s ten “sexy” Halloween costumes to tell us exactly what that thing is. Fair warning: everything from here on in is crassly sexualized in the worst possible taste, and may be NSFW.
10. Fireman With Big Hose
This is at the bottom of the list because at least firemen are sort of considered sexy in the world outside the godawful, nightmarish assumptions of commercial costume designers.
Hint to creepy costumers: this is not why firemen are considered sexy. You just made firemen less sexy by associating them with this costume. There’s some hard-working guy in a fire department now who’s not going to get laid because when he mentions his job, the lady he’s talking to will remember this costume and her libido will pull the covers over its head and cry itself to sleep. On behalf of that guy and firemen everywhere, thanks for nothing.
9. Drill Master
Look at this model. I can’t be mad at this guy. He looks at us and shrugs apologetically. “I know this isn’t a costume,” he seems to say. “I’m just wearing a strap-on foam power tool over the clothes I had on already. I can barely get through doors with this thing on. If I wore it at a party, I’d knock people’s drinks over every time I turned around.
“I came to L.A. because everyone said I was handsome and talented. And you know what, I still think they were right. Sometimes I watch that tape my mom made of my high school production of Guys and Dolls, usually when I’m drunk and alone, and I can still feel the edges of that dream I had, that I’d be a star. I can still feel like it might come true.
“But in the meantime, I’m standing here wearing this bullshit excuse for a Halloween costume because I need to make rent, okay? You know and I know that this costume’s garbage, so just cut me a little slack, could you?
“Luck be a lady tonight … luck if you’ve ever been a lady to begin with … oh god, this is my life.”
These are two of the tackiest entries in the depressingly popular subgenre “standard boring costume (plus boner).” These are only sold in adult sizes, which is probably good, but also undercuts their market, because the only people who could conceivably find this hilarious are in junior high school.
The prison costume made the list because it will be used mainly for prison-rape jokes by people you would jump out a window to avoid talking to.
The priest costume made the list because it will be used mainly for pedophilia jokes by people the guy in the prison-rape costume would jump out a window to avoid talking to.
7. Nasty Banana
Subtle. Classy. Covered in rapeface. This is for all the people who looked at the other available giant-banana costumes and said “Ah, I dunno. I mean, it’s a penis joke, but … it’s awfully subtle. My friends aren’t the most sophisticated, it might go over their heads. But I REALLY want to make a banana-penis joke. That’s too good a core concept to abandon. If only they had a costume that was way more overt about the penis thing and also had a face painted on it that will haunt the nightmares of any living creature with a soul … oh, hey, they do!”
6. Snake Charmer
See, it’s a snake, but it’s in the same place as his penis would be, so it’s like … y’know, if you have to explain it, it’s not funny. Or, in this case, if you don’t have to. The comedy here is just not salvageable. This is such a comedy disaster that just by existing it cancels out the career of Dave Chappelle.
The worst thing about this is that the flute is connected to the snake head, so you can move the snake around. This means that the snake will inevitably and invariably be used to lift the skirt of any woman in a skirt who turns her back on the guy wearing this. It also means that either this guy has his hands full all evening, or he’s got a fake flute dangling from a penis-snake by a bit of fishing line, dragging on the floor and taking this costume from “grimly unfunny” to “actively depressing”.
5. Longuini’s Sausage & Meatballs
First off, that is not how you carry a plate of food. No waiter in the history of the food service industry has ever carried a plate that way. So this joke is dead in the water before it gets started. And then once it does get started, the entire joke consists of “Uh … penis.” In other words, they’ve fucked up a joke with no moving parts, a joke consisting of a single word. Six-year-olds who’ve just learned dirty words can land a dick joke more successfully than this.
Second, that plate’s attached to the apron. Meaning that, not unlike the previous entry, if the poor guy wearing this wants to do anything with his hands all night, he’s just got this bizarre non-plate thing hanging off the front of his apron, its pointlessly unfunny phallus now deprived of whatever context it might once have enjoyed.
4. Hung Like A Horse
“Hey guys, look. Look, guys. Guys. Guys, no seriously, look. Hey, c’mon, look. Guys. Guys. Look, guys. Look. Check it out, guys. See? I’m HUNG LIKE A HORSE. See? It’s a visual pun.”
No. No it is not. It is to a visual pun as a flattened, sun-dried, crow-picked remnant of roadkill is to a living animal.
The sense of shame you are feeling right now, Hung Like A Horse dude, is entirely appropriate and warranted. In your old age, surrounded by your grandchildren, you will suddenly and unwillingly remember that once you thought it was a good idea to pay money for this non-costume and wear it where other people could see it. You will feel disgusted by yourself and undeserving of any happiness that may have brightened your life in the intervening decades, and you will be right to feel that way.
Visual pun … my god, man. Have some self-respect.
3. Baseball Nut
Every day you learn something new. Today we learn that there is a level in comedy below “Uh … penis.” It is “Uh … testicles.”
I will say one thing for this photo: it is a more accurate depiction of how this will actually be worn than most of these. This model has embraced his role as “Guy who bought the Baseball Nut costume” and is not only doing that guy’s inevitable Party Face, but is pointing at his crotch in exactly the manner that guy will be doing all night, or at least until enough people have asked him to stop.
I admire this model’s dedication to the Method, really. In a world full of much-needed reminders telling people “Don’t be that guy,” this model has embraced the fact that here, now, in this moment, in this godawful little gig, he must be that guy.
2. Happy Halloweenie
Somewhere out there, there’s a guy who’s been reading down this list going “I don’t get it. What’s this costume referring to? This kind of oblique intellectual humor just goes right over my head. Don’t get this one either … who are you, Noel Coward? How about something regular folks can understand for once?” For this guy, the dude who considers Dane Cook a little too highbrow and looks up the references in Carlos Mencia routines, this costume has been developed. Finally, a joke the lowest common denominator’s slightly slow cousin can understand.
See, it’s a dick.
Yes, the tube at the bottom says “Blow Here.” The entire point, the designed intent of this costume is that the wearer will insistently go up to people (women, mostly) who are drunk enough that they’re seriously impaired, and start telling them they need to blow him before they’re allowed to do anything else.
If you were to actually make a Date Rapist costume, consisting of a big cartoon bottle of Rohypnol and a T-shirt reading HELLO I AM A DATE RAPIST, it would be way, way less date-rapey than this costume.
I’m ragging on these costumes for being unfunny, and they are, but really that’s just the visible symptom of a deeper problem. These are all just dick jokes because our default-assumption culture has embraced the idea that men are not, in and of themselves, sexy. That a man’s only contribution to the ineffable ebb and flow of sexual attraction is having a big dick. Ozy Frantz calls it the Myth of Men Not Being Hot, the idea that men cannot be attractive just by being men. It’s toxic and damaging, and it leads to untold levels of hurt and loneliness in millions of men. I’ve had to actively argue with many men who literally don’t believe that straight women find men sexy. Oddly, I’ve never had to argue with any straight women about whether they find men hot; their argument on the subject is usually along the lines of “Well … yes. Duh.”
Part of the culprit here is the kind of oppositional-sexism structure that reflexively defines men and women as opposites. Under this assumption, women are attractive, therefore by definition men are unattractive. This brings me to a few bonus costumes that aren’t on the dick-joke top ten, but are too stomach-churningly appalling to leave out.
Bonus Sexist Costumes For Men! Turn Back Now!
There you go, now you know what it sounds like when the last of your faith in humanity dies.
The joke here, in all of these, is that the wearer is a man, dressed as a woman, but it’s an unattractive woman! Because she’s old or has pubic hair! How hilariously gross! It’s ironic because women are defined solely as the attractive gender, yet these fake women are not attractive! Better call that girl in the Sexy Nurse outfit, because I just busted a gut laughing!
These are only men’s costumes, of course. There are no Unattractive Woman costumes for women, nor Unattractive Man costumes, for that matter. Feel free to spend a few hours untangling the sick set of assumptions that have to exist for that to make sense.
When we talk about how stupid, sexist attitudes harm everyone, this is what we mean. Happy Halloween, everyone, and may your costumes be less soul-killingly awful than these.
Images from Halloween Spirit, used under fair use for critical purposes. To be fair to the company, they also have a great many costumes that are not in bad taste, and some genuinely good decorations and party supplies.