The Year O.J. Simpson Ruined Halloween
It takes a lot to ruin Halloween; even ancient trolls and evil witches powered by a teen boy’s virginity couldn’t totally rob the holiday of its pleasures. But back in 1994, a real damper was put on festivities thanks to both the tone-deafness of a significant portion of Americans and former football player/accused murderer/failed TV prankster O.J. Simpson. Following Simpson’s arrest for the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman (for which he was notoriously acquitted) and the famous white Bronco chase, the Juice’s impending trial was on everybody’s minds in the fall of ‘94.
Unfortunately, this meant that the line between “fun Halloween costume idea” and “recent real-life tragedy” was immediately destroyed by a stampede of morons. Yes, a ton of people decided that it would be a terrific idea to dress up as O.J. Simpson for Halloween that year. Costume shops sold out of O.J.-like football jerseys and fake butcher knives, as well as afro wigs and “dark makeup.” Yeah, as if dressing like a potential real-life killer mere months after his alleged crimes wasn’t bad enough, blackface was also a big part of this dumbass trend.
There were also masks for sale, but O.J. wouldn’t actually license his image to costume makers, despite their best efforts. So companies found legal workarounds that were also shockingly racist; stores actually sold “O.J.” masks that were secretly repackaged masks of other non-white celebrities like Mike Tyson and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Seriously.
Adding another layer of awfulness to this trifle of sun-melted garbage, costume shops also saw a run on blond wigs, from women looking to dress as Nicole -- who, again, was brutally murdered just months earlier. More ghoulish still, it was reported that some Nicole cosplayers were also buying “prosthetic slit throats.” Despite the fact that a few costumers refused to sell O.J.-related outfits even with the soaring demand, the distasteful trend became so widespread that Nicole’s sister Denise Brown decided to issue “a nationwide plea” less than two weeks before Halloween, asking people to “return Halloween costume items that depict O.J. Simpson or his alleged victims.”
While there aren’t many post-Halloween media stories documenting what happened on October 31, presumably, the parties of 1994 were crammed full of faux-O.J.s. And it’s not like there weren’t other good costume ideas on the table in 1994; The Mask? Forrest Gump? Hell, why not just throw on a pair of tight-fitting boxer shorts, do the splits, and say you’re a Timecop?
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Top Image: Charles LeBlanc/Flickr