Harambe. Sexy Harambe. An extremely distasteful costume depicting Kim Kardashian as a robbery victim. These are just a couple of the “viral” costume ideas floating around this year that you might be considering, and we are here to help you reconsider.
Picking a Halloween costume from the Internet is not as easy as it looks. This year, undecided voter Ken Bone in his cozy red sweater will probably be an insanely popular choice for those who want a viral costume: It’s timed perfectly for Halloween, it’s simple to put together, and it looks pretty warm. And also, quite a few people will immediately “get” who you are.
So be Ken Bone if you want to — it is a perfectly inoffensive choice! But if you don’t want to be one of several Bones at your Halloween party this year (which we can almost guarantee will be the case), we have a couple of other suggestions for various levels of the meme literate.
All of these are DIY (-ish, at least), because another rule about picking costumes from the Internet is that the completely pre-made versions are usually pretty bad.
The meme: Damn, Daniel
Shop this look: Grab your cleanest, whitest Vans shoes and an overly enthusiastic hype man and you’re ready to stunt on ’em. Bonus points for ironic bashfulness and a jean jacket.
Why this costume idea isn’t terrible: If you want your Hallowmeme costume to be a safe bet, this is a no-brainer. Unlike other memes that have been commandeered and repurposed as hate symbols, Damn, Daniel is about building others up, not tearing them down. This is your opportunity to be the most popular kid in high school — as an adult. Seize it like no other.
The meme: Don’t talk to me or my son ever again
Shop this look: Copulate, then father or give birth to a child, ideally a son. The bargain-basement option for the childless is to grab a similar-looking friend who is slightly smaller or younger than you and wear matching outfits. Voilà! You have a son.
There’s even a pet-friendly alternative. Dress up in a dog costume that looks as close as possible to the dog you own. Your dog is now your son.
Why this costume idea isn’t terrible: When the punch line of a meme is literally a smaller version of a person or animal (usually thanks to Photoshop) beside its life-size counterpart, it’s relatively hard to corrupt. “Me or my son” is offenseless — as long as you agree never to talk to them again, of course.
— Tanya Sichynsky
The meme: Zodiac Killer Ted Cruz
Shop this look: White collared shirt, conservative jacket, over-wide red tie … and a prominently displayed circle-and-cross sign. Bonus points for making yourself up like Ted Cruz, which is a thing you can do (!), according to YouTube.
Why this costume idea isn’t terrible: It seems far more generous than the alternate Ted Cruz meme, Sad Ted Cruz. (Supplies: deep, lipless frown, Trump-Pence campaign signs, same rumpled black suit.) Besides, so many of the conspiracies surfaced in this election are believed by too many people to still be funny; Zodiac Killer Ted Cruz is like a postcard from a happier time when the electorate understood irony.
Shop this look: This, my friends, is the only costume with built-in snacks. You will need a raglan baseball tee, a plaid tablecloth (wear it like a kilt?) and one burger for each of your 12 imaginary grandkids.
Why this costume idea isn’t terrible: Sad Papaw ends happily ever after, and who doesn’t love that? After his grandkids stood him up for dinner, Papaw (a) got Internet famous and (b) dined out on it. A cookout in his honor drew hundreds of people, including the elusive grandchildren. Also, for the record, Papaw told the Daily Mail he was never that upset.
Women Wearing Headphones
Shop this look: Be a woman. Wear headphones. Print out a pack of cards explaining male entitlement and hypermasculinity and silently hand them to anyone who tries to speak to you.
Why this costume isn’t terrible: It’s educational.
— Caitlin Dewey
The Meme: Mr. Krabs
Shop this look: All you really need to get the point across is a dazed look on your face and a giant pair of costume crab claws, which are deceptively simple to find online. (“But those are lobster claws,” you say? You’re uninvited from the party!)
If you’re like me and hate costume effort and don’t want to shell out for the costume claws, just use some salad tongs, tuck a chambray shirt into some jeans and call it good.
Why this costume idea isn’t terrible: If you’re anything like me, most Halloween parties send you into a wild state of panic. Finally, a way to illustrate your unease while also participating!
I always found the Mr. Krabs meme funniest when it was used as self deprecation. Its popularity, I think, comes less from ’90s-kid nostalgia and more from its relatability. Everyone feels a little confused all the time.
The Meme: Arthur Fist
Shop this look: All you need for this is a yellow sweater, some blue jeans and a sweet sense of quiet indignation.
Why this costume idea isn’t terrible: I think the reason this meme took off is its understatedness. Something makes us Mad Online, but instead of firing off a tweetstorm or Facebook rant (as we on the Internet are wont to do), we post a single closed fist. A quiet rebellion.
Plus, it was the Meme of the Summer™.
— Ric Sanchez
The meme: Dat Boi
Shop this look: A green frog mask. One of those “Green Man” entire body suits. A unicycle, or a unicycle stand-in.
Why this costume idea isn’t terrible: Okay so, to truly pull this off, you should have at least some basic unicycle-riding skills, But I would argue that they are not entirely necessary in a party situation, just as long as you have the suggestion of being able to ride one. But going as a meme that will, essentially, prompt people to call out in joy at your arrival? Worth it.
The meme: Dancing pumpkin man
Shop this look: A black unitard, or black tights and a black turtleneck. A pumpkin mask. A dance.
Why this costume idea isn’t terrible: The dancing pumpkin man is the most festive meme costume possible for Halloween. It’s warm and easily recognizable, but it also works for people who have no idea about the Internet — they will still know you are a Pumpkin Man! The Pumpkin Man transcends time. You could go as the pumpkin man every year and I, at least, would forgive you.
— Abby Ohlheiser