In Halloween costumes, ‘Oriental’ is back

Written by Eunice Oh, CNN

We’re familiar with the many masks used by Asian and Asian-American communities to preserve face expressions and identity.

But many masked populations in Europe, America and the UK often struggle to maintain individuality and identity as they shed their masks.

The trend for a “new wave” of blackface-inspired costumes appears to be on the rise, coming in a variety of forms and with a few differences from the blackface cultural appropriation scandals that have captured international attention for the past few years.

The most obvious changes are in the use of chameleons and blue makeup, which reflects the popularity of Asian-American film tropes. In the movie “Crazy Rich Asians,” Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of “Hamilton,” portrayed a wealthy but devious elitist who dons a blue mule coat to simulate a Chinese client. In “Halloween,” the 2018 horror film from NBC, actress Jamie Lee Curtis made famous a Michael Myers mask worn by cult director John Carpenter in his film “Halloween.”

In the late 1960s, when Nixon was president, political TV program “This Is Your Life” hosted two women on the making of a “Super Sucker Punch II” blackface film. The story centers around a female gangster mother, a male prisoner and a black boy — a business plan more akin to one drawn up by Vince Papale, from the movie “A Bronx Tale.” But the subtle differences in blackface are not always obvious.

Corporate parody

An art show from the ’90s labeled “Asian American Vintage Tuxedo Crop Fashions, 1970s-1980s” features a number of modern day Halloween costumes that mimic Asian stereotypes.

Thomas Kinkade’s “Harlequin Cover” series , a fictionalized portrait of Tinguely-Tayba and Van Gogh, now inspires American high street fashion

Troy Jones is famous for “Asian Eyes” models , from imitating a golden embouchure to a Korean eyes symbol and other cultural images. This Halloween, Jones

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