This morning has seen some heated debate and persuasive action taken by the UK public against supermarket giants Asda & Tesco with regards to the sale of their ‘Mental Patient’ and ‘Psycho Ward’ fancy dress costumes. Both companies have since removed the products from sale and attention has now started to turn to any other outlets stocking similar.
Multinationals such as Asda & Tesco cover many areas of retail and are obliged to appeal to their varied customer base. As supermarkets, it is in their best interests to be as fair to those buying their groceries as they are to those wanting to buy something gross, so long as nobody gets offended. Thankfully, those entering our shop or webstore are quickly made aware of our arguably singular retail purpose.
It is perhaps worth considering that the ‘Cell Block Psycho’ and ‘Psycho Ward’ costumes currently still available from Escapade are direct homages to the celebrated thriller film character, Hannibal Lecter. The association of psychiatric care hospitals being the origin (or final home) of a horror story’s antagonist is a long running theme throughout film and the last century’s literature, though of course this doesn’t justify the perpetuation of an unjust stigma. Our ‘psycho killer film’ products are merely an extension of that films’ own merchandising – its intention is not to promote the actions of its characters or the public reaction to them, but simply the piece of art itself. We offer a chance to dress up as a character, the choice of comment you make as the wearer is entirely your own.
The issue of social prejudice towards those suffering from mental illness is an important one and should not be ignored. The ongoing work of organisations such as Mind and SANE is exemplary and continues to fight the misappropriated link between all mental health patients and any manner of violent threat to society.
With that said, we are hopeful that a great majority of our customers are sensible enough to differentiate between horror movie commemoration and reality. Also on sale via our webstore are costumes that allow you to look like the victim of a serious injury, a prisoner, a number of different soldiers from different areas of history and a great many other fancy dress themes that could, were you to construct a convincing enough angle on them, be construed as ‘offensive’.
Escapade actively support a number of charities (including NSPCC, Terrence Higgins Trust, Lucy Air Ambulance etc.) and recently raised a considerable sum of funds for Help For Heroes this Summer whilst breaking our first Guinness World Record. It is fair to say that we have a firm grasp of contemporary moral issues, even despite the openly dark, horrific or even aggressive nature of some of our products’ themes.
We continue to stock these potentially risqué costumes so long as it is still legal to be entertained by and/or make mention of a fictional character or historical figure and all their related characterisations & iconography. Escapade eagerly acknowledge the cultural issues raised in the situation surrounding Asda & Tesco’s recent fancy dress costume recalls, however we have yet to see that it is necessary for us to reflect the concerns of a family-oriented, public limited company.
As ever, we welcome the comments & suggestions of our customers and those interested in the Escapade brand.