Tesco Gay Best Friend Inflatable and Asda’s Mental Patient Costume cause anger

September 27, 2013 – 1:45pmCHATROOM

Asda’s Mental Patient Costume and Tesco’s Gay Best Friend Inflatable: Harmless Fun or Hateful Hype?

Gerald Lynch – Yesterday, supermarket giant Asda came under fire from mental health groups when it came to light that, alongside back to school essentials, its George clothing line’s website was also selling a “Mental Patient” Halloween fancy dress costume.

And now today Tesco has been similarly attacked for its frankly bizarre “Inflatable G*y Best Friend” doll, offensive on so many levels, not least of which is the fact that Tesco’s marketing teams seem to consider “Gay” a swear word. Oh, and Tesco was selling the same stigmatising Mental Patient outfit too.

Under pressure, both items have now been pulled from sale by both retailers.

Now, I myself have been known to pull together some mildly inappropriate Halloween costumes for parties (last year I pulled apart a Baby First-Steps doll, covered it in “Adhesive Zombie Flesh”, strapped it to my stomach and pranced around pretending to be Kuato from Total Recall). But it wasn’t exactly as though I could buy an off-the-shelf “Mars Radiation Deformed Siamese Baby Man” costume.

So, if Halloween is a holiday during which we get to celebrate distasteful extremes, are real-world health issues off limits, or has this been one big over-reaction? The same goes for the inflatable: in the 21st century, should companies still be allowed to commodify stereotypes?

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