Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I Wish It Were a Trick; It's Certainly Not a Treat

If you live in Montreal's West Island, then you've probably received one of these in the mail, just like every year. It's the quarterly ExtraMagazine, a 16-page flyer of ads and coupons for local businesses. As usual, a few pages of the fall issue—in this case the cover and the first two inside pages—are devoted to the many Hallowe'en costumes available at Party Mania, "Canada's discount party mega store." The spread below shows you the next two pages, which is pretty much the same as the cover, only with less text and more costumed kids and adults:



Hey, did you notice anything about these three pages? There are no black people in them. Oh, wait, sorry, there's one, in the lower right-hand corner of the last page:



What the—a pimp? The only black person out of the 103 posing as cartoon characters, pirates, cops, firemen, doctors and superheroes is a pimp?

I picked up the phone and called Party Mania. Speaking to the young woman working there, I learned two things:

(1) The ads are a composite of different costume images supplied by the various distributors.
(2) The owner of the company is the one who makes the ads, cycling out old images every year as new ones become available.

Which leaves me with a few possibilities to contemplate, all of which lead to the same thought:

What the fuck.

Update (11/6): A friend did a bit more legwork than I had the time for, and found out those costumes, and the images, come from a company called Rubie's Costume. A look through their website reveals that aside from two of the seven pimp outfits (technically, they're called "funkwear," with names like "Red Hot Playa," but that's not what comes to mind when you see them), there is exactly one other costume modelled by a black person in the men's costumes. So it's not that Party Mania chose not to include, say, black doctors or firemen, they simply couldn't—at least, not from the Rubie's catalogue.

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