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Political Masks Are So 2009

Lady Gaga is likely to become this Halloween’s hottest celebrity — Madonna with meat, as one costume salesman described it — but when it comes to message-minded get-ups, political ghouls like Barackula are out and corporate horror is in.

BP oil spill costume
BP oil spill costume

All across the Gulf Coast and the country, the costume inspiring guffaws and flying off the shelves consists of a green jumpsuit covered in oil with BP in a sunburst logo over the left breast. The BP stands for “bad planning,” according to its creator, a Long Island company called Fun World, but only Rip Van Winkle would miss the joke.

“What’s unique is that it combines the horror of Halloween with the topicality of the disaster,” said Alan Geller, 53, a vice president at Fun World. “We’re like ‘Saturday Night Live’ in a costume.”

Mr. Geller, who drives an all-electric car, said he was crushed by the spill but doubted that a costume could comment until someone in a meeting described the mess as “really bad planning.” Before they knew it, a designer retooled a “killer mechanic” costume — adding BP, changing the jumpsuit from blue to green, and the splattered blood to black oil. Now Fun World had a dangerous rigger on its hands, or a victim of corporate carelessness.

Either way, it worked. Mr. Geller has plans to produce more than 10,000 suits, with several dollars out of every sale, he says, going to families affected by the spill. Scott Morris, whose family has spent 48 years selling dress-up — as the owners of Morris Costumes, the world’s largest costume wholesaler — said he had already sent out hundreds of the BP outfits to stores and Web sites (wrench and dead fish are not included). He said he expected it to become this year’s favorite adult costume, which BP seems determined to ignore. Calls to the company for comment were not returned.

Of course, the BP jumpsuit does have a lot of competition. Its simplicity and cost ($40) may keep it from ultimately outselling Super Sperm, which typically rushes up the sales charts just days before the holiday, Mr. Morris said. But he added, early sales suggest that it will fare far better than Rogue Zombie Sarah Palin or Barackula, the Dracula/Barack Obama hybrid that was popular last year.

“It’s a great way into the anger in the public eye,” Mr. Morris said of the BP costume. “It’s an opportunity to turn that around and have a little fun with it.”

And, he added, it suggests that Halloween might even wring out a little unity out of the current hot-air-and-highly-partisan moment. “People might love or hate Obama,” Mr. Morris said. “Everyone hated the spill.”

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