The worst celebrity costumes tend to be the ones that spark outrage for their cultural insensitivity. Bizarrely, this isn’t limited to Halloween. Macklemore once dressed up as a Nazi caricature of Jews in May 2014, declined to apologize for it, and then deleted his statement that wasn’t an apology.
But because a lot of people dress up in costumes for Halloween, this type of thing tends to happen around the end of October.
Too often, we’ll see celebrities dress up in blackface, as caricatures of other cultural figures, or wear a costume that’s supposed to be some kind of witty commentary on a recent horrific event. They’re all really bad ideas.
Here are 15 celebrities who dressed up in the most outrageous costumes.
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Julianne Hough’s blackface for her “Crazy Eyes” costume was one of the most derided in years.
For her 2013 costume, the “Dancing with the Stars” champion went as “Orange Is the New Black” character Crazy Eyes.
There’s a history of blackface in the US, wherein white actors don black makeup in order to portray black stereotypes. There’s also a history of discrimination against African-Americans in the country’s movie, television, and theater industries. Taken together, Hough’s costume was in really, really bad taste.
“It certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way,” Hough said shortly after the Halloween party. “I realize my costume hurt and offended people and I truly apologize.”
Hough is far from the only celebrity to wear blackface as part of a Halloween costume. “American Horror Story” actor Colton Haynes dressed up as Kanye West in 2011. The following year, he darkened his skin again for a Gandhi costume. Country singer Jason Aldean once went as Lil Wayne. And designer Alessandro Dell’Acqua went as… well, it’s not clear, but she used blackface in her 2016 costume.
Snowboarder Shaun White dressed up as a caricature of people with disabilities.
In October 2108, Shaun White dressed up as “Simple Jack,” a character played by Ben Stiller in “Tropic Thunder.” In the movie, the character iss used to make fun of the movie industry’s tendency to turn the lives of people with disabilities into “Oscar bait,” although disability advocates found the portrayal shallow.
A spokesperson for the Special Olympics, as well as fans of White, criticized him for the costume after he posted a photo of it on Instagram. White ultimately issued an apology.
“I owe everyone in the Special Olympics community an apology for my poor choice of Halloween costume the other night,” he said in an Instagram post Tuesday. “It was a last minute decision. It was the wrong one.”
White said the Special Olympics, which also criticized “Tropic Thunder” in 2008, was right to criticize him.
“The Special Olympics were right to call me out on it,” he said. “They do great work supporting so many tremendous athletes and I am sorry for being insensitive. Lesson learned.”
In 2012, Chris Brown dressed up as a “terrorist.”
In a now-deleted post on Instagram, Brown posted a photo of himself and friends dressed in turbans with fake beards. “Ain’t nobody F—ing wit my clique!” he wrote in the caption.
“Someone take him to a little house way out in the country and give him some food and water and just leave him there,” The Atlantic wrote. “Because he’s simply too aggravating to be out here with the rest of us.”