I think Halloween, at least in its form at the Castro, is just an excuse for people to parade around in their slutty outfits. I can't tell you how many barely-there nurses' outfits women (and a couple men too) were wearing. It seemed like a nurse passed by every 2 minutes in stilettos.
You want to be a nurse in PVC? OK. Sure. What is not OK to me though are the ethnic costumes. You know, like someone wearing a cheongsam. When an Asian person does it, it's just lame. (Hi, I'm Chinese, and for Halloween now, I'm going to be "more" Chinese." ) Hello, get a real costume.
But I also came across some non-Asians wearing conical rice hats, Vietnamese aodai or Chinese silk jackets. There were some non-Native Americans decked out in headdresses. So not OK. It's one thing to be say, a ninja or a Samurai, some sort of historical or mythical person. It's kind of like dressing up as a Viking. But dressing up in someone else's traditional ethnic clothes for a costume? Using an ethnic group as a mascot? How can people not see that this is offensive?
I think people think this is OK because they continue to consider Asian Americans (and Asians, whatever, they're apparently all the same) and Native Americans as The Other -- foreigners, mysterious other, not real people who have anything in common with them. Now, you don't see people walking around in black face saying they're in an African American costume do you? That's seriously messed up. Why can't people see it's seriously messed up when this is applied to other races? And ridiculously dumb. Should I put on a blonde wig for Halloween next year and pretend I'm a white person? Go Fighting Whities!
I will admit to pretending to be Japanese for Halloween this year, but this was in a pop culture context. You see, the other side of being The Other is people exoticizing you. (Or thinking you make a cute pet.) For our costumes, my friend and I were Harajuku girls who had escaped from Gwen Stefani. We wore knee high boots and funky dresses and bright geisha-esque makeup, topped off with an X-ed out picture of Stefani. Too bad no one got it though.