Hilary Duff’s sexy Halloween pilgrim outfit is a fascinating case of showbiz group-think brain deficiency. You’re possibly weary after a “Halloweekend” of costume hijinks. Well, pull up a chair, dear friend, for I am too. But I will never grow tired of boggling at the limited thought processes of people like Duff who have armies of advisors on their payroll.
“Well, the world’s media will see this,” Duff’s circle presumably said. “So Hilary, you can be a raunchy pilgrim father, fresh off the boat from Babmouth, having sailed 3,000 miles in fishnets with your arse cheeks showing.” So far, so merely attention-thirsty. But then Duff’s new boyfriend, personal trainer Jason Walsh, was pencilled in to appear on her arm as comedy sidekick, clad in a ruggedly sexy Native American costume: feather-headdress, painted face, fringed leather jerkin. No alarm bells rang for anyone at this point.
Seemingly not a voice on Team Duff said: “Hang on, this rings a bell.” Didn’t the model Karlie Kloss end up in a furious debacle over a thong and a head-dress at the Victoria’s Secret runway show? Mmm… something about Pharrell Williams in Elle magazine? Hang on, haven’t the Washington Redskins been begged furiously to change their name of late? And weren’t there 876 think pieces about Coachella last April concerning “Red Indian” festival fashion? There’s some kind of beef here. None of these things were thought. Duff’s boyfriend’s Native American costume was hired.
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Think Felipe Rose from disco sensation Village People, with an emphasis on the fact that 1978 was around the juncture that many Americans began questioning the wisdom of “doing a funny Red Indian”. In this case, Felipe Rose got carte blanche as his father was a Lakota Sioux. The rules of cultural appropriation, political correctness and attempting to stay “woke” are ornate, ever-shifting and debatable, now more than ever before. Yet roundly speaking, if your own ancestors were decimated in a sh*t-shower of smallpox, brutal land theft and government-sanctioned genocide, and then you decide to pay your mortgage by doing high-kicks to Macho Man wearing a Native American war bonnet, well, there is some leeway. Duff and Walsh do not get that “help yourself to a head-dress” pass.
Of course, the twisted beauty of this new phenomenon of Halloween costume outrage is that the more one gazes at these outfits out of context on Twitter or Instagram, through cold, sober, judgey, non-party atmosphere eyes, the more angles of offence open up. Are Duff and Walsh reducing centuries of atrocities against the Native Americans into a raunchy porn vignette? Is their choice to make the pilgrim and the Native American hang out together an attempt to drive home the idea that we all need to put this petty, regrettable history stuff behind us and P.A.R.T.Y? Is Duff saying pilgrims brought skimpy hot-pants to the New World and the indigenous people should stop moaning and practice gratitude? Or are we saying Native Americans have always been welcome in fancy, white American functions, as long as, beneath the funny feathers, they are in fact buff, white jocks who can bench-press 200lbs?
No. I’ll wager that Duff and Walsh were not saying, hinting or dog-whistling any of these things. Neither would they think they were being remotely malicious. They were simply not thinking anything at all.
“It was not properly thought through and I am truly, from the bottom of my heart sorry,” said Duff yesterday on Twitter. In a time before social media, our moments of mindlessness could pass largely without inquest. We have all, for good or bad, given away our freedom to be temporarily thoughtless.
Next October, all show-business agents and publicity departments should earn their percentages and costly retainers by putting in a quick courtesy call enquiring what costume their beautiful, mindless client has on reserve for Halloweekend. They dream of the planet talking about their client. But it’s a bitch when the world won’t shut up.