Halloween this year seems to be cursed, and not in a fun Halloween ghost story kind of way. No, this year Halloween seems to be all about offending each other with blackface, misogyny, racially insensitive costumes, and cultural appropriation. Never one to miss a chance to say or do something offensive, American Apparel got into the Halloween game by serving up a cluttered, incoherent window display that took “voodoo” as its inspiration and offended plenty of people for being both racially and religiously insensitive.
Vodoun, or Voodoo, is a religion with a long history and many practitioners in the U.S. and abroad. The American Apparel voodoo Halloween window display has since picked up a Change.org petition with nearly 4,500 signatures asking for it to be taken down.
The Vodoun-themed window display, using faux sacred Fon iconography, is culturally insensitive, as it insinuates that a world religion that has been viciously and incorrectly maligned for centuries is “spooky” and upholds the specious belief that African and African-derived religion and culture are “seasonally appropriate” to sell Autumn/Hallowe’en-inspired items.
American Apparel certainly isn’t going to stop randomly offending people any time soon, and in the past it has not responded well to criticism. When the idea that doing an “ersatz African religion”-theme display for “spoooooky Halloween” was likely to offend some people, the company did nothing to remove it, or even to make the display less jumbled and ugly. The petition is ongoing, but it seems likely to have little effect as the petitioners were just asking for the display to be taken down, and that would probably happen shortly even without the petition. It is the company’s spooky Halloween window, after all. They’ll have to take it down in order to offend people with their hipster Thanksgiving display.
As Racked‘s Leslie Price points out, “All the petitioners want is for American Apparel to remove the display which, in all likelihood, will happen tomorrow after Halloween is over.”
Most likely nothing will come of this, and we’ll all get to do this dance again next year.