The hunt is on for the perfect, ripped-from-the-headlines, timely, funny, in-the-know, and generally hilarious pop-culture Halloween costume. Three years ago, legions of Sarah Palins thronged the streets; two years ago you couldn’t turn a corner without seeing an Octomom and a brood of fake babies. Last year, dressing as the Bed Intruder guaranteed that you wouldn’t have to buy your own drinks all night.
What will this year’s best pop-culture costume be? Slutty Michele Bachmann? It’s hard to say, but we’re willing to bet that it won’t be one of these, which are too tacky, too outrageous, too insensitive, and just too soon to be in good taste.
Too On-the-Nose: Amy Winehouse
It’s not right to speak ill of the dead, especially when all evidence suggests that Amy was really trying to clean herself up at the time of her death. The Winehouse look was great the first time it came around (circa 2007), and it’s sure to be popular again this year, but there’s something sort of icky about taking shots while dressed up as a singer whose biggest hit was a song about not wanting to go to rehab. Eek.
Too Soon: Casey Anthony
Sure, she was the star of the biggest media circus in years, but please please please don’t dress up as Casey Anthony. There is nothing funny about a troubled young woman or her dead child. Also, the real Tot Mom gets constant death threats and has to hide her whereabouts, so dressing like her for fun is more likely to get you assaulted by drunken vigilantes (or Nancy Grace) than howls of appreciation from your friends.
Too Played Out: Charlie Sheen
Yes, yes, yes...tiger blood, Adonis DNA, F-18s, winning, etc. We get it. It was sort of funny while it was happening, but the Charlie Sheen meltdown and subsequent redemption are the epitome of all the things that are soulless, cynical, and hypocritical about Hollywood. Threaten to kill your wife = no big deal; insult your boss = you’re fired. Do you want to contribute to that? Not to mention that at this point, even your grandma makes warlock jokes, so it’s hardly cutting-edge.
Too Sad: The Real Housewives
The tragedy of the Russell Armstrong suicide is currently overshadowing anything that’s funny or ridiculous about the franchise, and just sort of makes the whole spectacle look sad and desperate. If you absolutely must dress as a Housewife, steer clear Taylor Armstrong. Kim Zolciak, perhaps? Or how about Countess LuAnn?
Too Political: Moammar Qaddafi
He’s this year’s Ahmedinejad—the curiously-attired Middle Eastern strongman that everyone in the West loves to hate. His melted face and jheri curl may be rife with comedic costume potential for some Americans, but to people of Libyan heritage, it’s just offensive. Actually, it’s offensive to anyone who’s ever lived under a brutal autocratic regime. It’s not okay to dress up as Hitler or Pol Pot, so why would it be okay to dress as Qaddafi?
Too Misogynistic: The DSK Maid
It’s hard to resist poking fun at any big news story, but fight hard against the urge to dress up as a battered hotel housekeeper, á la the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case. Halloween is about spirited, silly fun, and rape tends to be a bit of a downer.
Too Blood-Lusty: Osama Bin Laden
We’ve extracted our pound of flesh—let’s let it go. Some fratty douche bags are sure to pull this one out of the back of the closet, where it’s been since 2002 (AKA the last time this costume was fresh or funny). But while it’s not okay to dress as Osama, it is decidedly acceptable to get together with friends and dress as SEAL Team Six. In fact, we encourage it, because those guys are pretty kick-ass.
Photo credit: phalenebdlv  (cc)