Every year there seems to be at least one ridiculously alarming Halloween costume being pushed on the public. Last year we featured a post about Walmart offering a plastic surgery costume and marketing a birth-defect themed ensemble for the children. Of course there are always the “clever” outfits that are restricted to current events each year, as well. Such topical targets have included figures like Sarah Palin or that wacked-out Ashley Todd dame who falsified a politically-motivated assault/robbery claim with the accusation that someone carved a backwards “B” for Obama onto her face (printable Ashley Todd Halloween Mask HERE). This year we’ll probably see some Bristol Palin costumes and a few of Bethany Storro, the Vancouver, Wa woman who falsified an assault claim that someone doused her face in acid (drain cleaner Bethany Storro costume available HERE). There have always been costumes ideas like this over the years, but with the internet age and sites like Youtube giving birth to instant “celebrities” and consistently spreading memes all over the place like electronic venereal diseases, a whole new level of vacuous undeserved hype has been created; making each 15 minute span of fame more potent than ever in history. In less than a week, it will be October, which means that Halloween is sneaking up on us again like a calculating rapist climbing through windows in the Alabama projects. Don’t worry folks, this year a site called Brandsonsale.com is microwaving and reheating the iron before it completely cools off, by offering a costume based on, none other than, internet super-meme Antoine Dodson.
By this point, you have probably caught a glimpse of Dodson‘s untamed hair and bandana-clad image, even if you don’t know the full story behind why it’s been appearing everywhere. The answer to that question has a few aspects to it, but the honest, and incidentally most fucked up answer, is that the whole Dodson craze originally stemmed from the attempted rape of Antoine‘s sister, Kelly in the Lincoln Park projects of Hunstville, Alabama. A subsequent interview with Dodson, regarding him intervening and chasing the attacker away from their home, was conducted and televised by local station and NBC affiliate, WAFF-48. Although he was clearly irate and emotional about the attempted physical attack on his sister, Dodson‘s flamboyancy mixed with the wording that he used during the piece came across as comical to a lot of people. After the clip was posted to Youtube, it spread like AIDS-fire, yielding millions of views. Those of you who were still completely unaware of this story are probably saying to yourself, “YIKES! That’s what this is all about? Our society is pretty fucked up?“… and rightly so. Still… you are also probably interested in seeing the clip and are even likely to crack a smile yourself while watching it.
Here is the original footage to catch you up. After this, we can move forward…
As with anything that begins to gain a solid amount of hype these days, imitators began popping up to ride Antoine‘s nuts like a remora and siphon a little bit of that sweet second-hand internet fame for themselves. You could probably stay on Youtube for an entire day straight and still not view all of the pathetic attempts by aspiring amateurs trying to get noticed by riding the backs of this newest craze/catastrophe. One of the most “legitimate” Youtube channels to consistently capitalize off of current events is Schmoyoho, run by The Gregory Brothers. Under their regular project known as “Auto-Tune the News“, the family of musicians and viral video producers have been successfully pumping out manipulated footage of news broadcasts for years now. The basic idea being for them to lay a simple music track under actual news footage, while processing the audio through the auto-tune pitch correction effect that has over-saturated “hip-hop” over the last half-decade or so. Of course their inventive parodies have spawned endless more sub-parodies of their own but, as the “originators” they still tend to produce the highest quality and most creative work in this mutated genre. After working their editing magic on the original Dodson interview footage to create “The Bed-Intruder Song“, the Gregorys managed to extend the life of this meme even further. According to the Washington Post, the resulting track has even “sold thousands of copies on iTunes and appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 list”
Clearly, this Halloween costume idea is just the latest attempt to cash in on the attempted rape of Antoine‘s sister but, compared to the custom-made Antoine Dodson doll that sold for $103.51 on ebay last month, it isn’t exactly the most surprising. That doesn’t mean that it is any less ridiculous, however.
The $24.95 costume, which is essentially just a red bandana, a black wife-beater, and a nappy wig (shown in header image), is sold under the title of the “Bedroom Superhero Costume Kit“. I guess that “bedroom superhero” is a better marketing angle than “rape victim’s brother” the same way that “bed intruder” has effectively put a more innocent spin on the term “RAPIST“.
The following text comes directly from a screen grab on the costume’s product page.
This isn’t the first time that black folks from Alabama have been exploited by local news stations and gained international internet fame via Youtube. Anyone who’s a fan of the classic Mobile leprechaun footage already knows this. Shit, I watched that video like crazy for a while and we even posted it on the site ourselves at one point. The reason that this situation feels sketchier than the leprechaun footage is because it involves an attempted rape, instead of references to crackheads and tiny mythological Irishmen. I can claim that the fact that this particular meme is in severely poor taste as one of the reasons that I’ve never really cared to address the situation before, but in reality, the fact that it is watered down, milked to death, and becoming increasingly played-out is a much larger factor.
Still, the reality remains that, by simply posting this article, we are addressing it and feeding into this meme and what it represents. Furthermore, we are helping to direct increased attention towards everyone from the costume peddlers and creators of parodies who are supposedly working to “exploit” this entire fiasco. This warrants more than a few questions about where the line of decency regarding this situation actually lies and what, if any, level of “exploitation” is actually occurring. Arguments can be made on every side, but I have come across one more video that I feel exhibits a side to the phenomena that most people probably haven’t even considered. To determine how the whole craze is really effecting the original victims, the most appropriate method to take would be to ask THEM. Among others, CBS news took it upon themselves to speak to Antoine directly and find out his views.
What resulted was an interview that CBS has disabled the embedding on, so we can’t post it here. If you want to watch it, however, here’s THE LINK.
While CBS‘ actions have prevented us from posting the clip here, I did find Antoine‘s footage of the exact same interview, from his side of the Skype in his apartment, and it is even more revealing. The CBS video was edited but, if you want to start strictly from the limited footage that they did choose to post in their above link, then just start the video below at the 5:12 mark.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jb-ewYxdLJ4
Based on this interview, a few things seem clear to me; the most important one being that Antoine has a great attitude about everything and is actually pretty on top of his shit. I’m sure that the interviewer, Shira Lazar would probably argue that, even if Dodson doesn’t feel exploited, it’s just because he’s too ignorant to realize it. I, on the other hand, think that perspective is a load of shit. He’s an adult man, not a spray-tanned toddler in a fucking beauty pageant. Lazar, on the other hand, is pushing a holier-than-though journalistic approach with the intention of coming across as a respectable journalist and a compassionate observer. “Tsk, tsk, folks! He’s a person. One that’s too stupid to know what’s good for him, but a person all the same.” In reality, Antoine is actually making money from the success of his song and is using it to help his family move into a better neighborhood. On top of that, his original intention to bring awareness to the crime and prevent it from getting “swept under the rug” has become more successful than he had ever imagined. The footage that was edited from the beginning of the video, further proves these concepts. It feels as if the idea to exploit Dodson by displaying him as an ignorant buffoon, was utilized by CBS as much as anyone else, if not more. That was the direction that Lazar entered the interview with and one that she seems hell-bent on sticking with, even as it begins to collapse around her. It’s as if she were saying, “You play the role of the poor ignorant hood-rat that’s been taken advantage of and I’ll be the social worker with the heart of gold that reaches out to your leper hand, ok?! I’ll play Sandra Bullock and you… well, just play the black guy.” At least when the general population has enjoyed the viral videos over the last month or so, they have done so without any backhanded intentions or apologies.
Shira Lazar comes across as someone who wants to be considered as a respected journalist, instead of just some young hot chick, but she’s only forcing the interview into a direction that will fit her narrative, as opposed to being focused on discovering the “truth.” Overall, she represents herself as much more of a bumbling mess with her rack hanging out. She even fucks up her own webcam and tries to pass the responsibility off on the easy going Dodson. Seriously though… you work for CBS news and you conduct your interview while looking like a college girl in a tank top?
…which brings me back full-circle to my original point about this shitty Halloween costume. Both Antoine and Lazar are wearing black tank tops, but it’s fairly easy to tell the two of them apart. Unless you are already a skinny black man, you’re probably gonna need more than a wife-beater and a bandana to look like Dodson. Either way, you can probably pick those items up cheaper at one of those corner stores that inexplicably sells crossbows and hunting knives behind the counter. Just make it your damn self or, even better, come up with something more original.
(12:27 am Sept. 26th 2010)
In the very short period of time that this article has been published, we have already received contact from the agency which owns Mr. Dodson’s image. Although we had no reason to believe that the janky “Bedroom Super Hero Costume Kit” was endorsed by Antoine in anyway, we now have official confirmation to verify just that.
One thing that we were not aware of is that there is actually a “Bed Intruder Costume” in the works which is “Officially Licensed” and endorsed by the overnight celebrity. If you do have plans to purchase an Antoine Dodson Halloween costume this year, we encourage you to buy that one. Generally, we wouldn’t give a fuck but, in a situation such as this, the view is slightly different. It’s not as if purchasing an imitation costume is taking sequin-encrusted cock-shaped pancakes out of the mouth of Lady Gaga or undercutting Disney’s ability to devour one more human child’s soul, this time. At least, by purchasing the “officially licensed” Dodson costume, you will know that the man himself with get a share of the profits. His family was victimized in the projects and those tragedies were, subsequently, mocked internationally. The positive is that minor things like these licensed product are actually helping to remedy the poor conditions that they’ve been forced to endure.
Plus, by purchasing the official product, you’re getting the added benefit of being guilt free. So, if someone says something to you like…
“Who are you supposed to be, that poor bastard whose sister was almost raped? That’s fucked up! You are a terrible person!“
You can respond to them with…
“Actually, by purchasing this ensemble I have actually helped to put money directly into the victims’ pockets and to offer much more support than you do through your snide comments. In other words, eat a dick.”
To pre-order the offical “Bed Intruder Costume” visit: http://www.bedintrudercostume.com/