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Spirit Halloween is saying witch, please to all the Photoshopped memes of their costumes.
The seasonal store is always a favorite subject for social media, whether it’s jokes about how quickly they take over empty storefronts or the anticipation of shopping for spooky accessories at the very last minute. This October, the trend has been fake Halloween costumes branded with the Spirit Halloween logo. Even celebrities got in on the act, with stars like Diplo and Kim Petras posting versions of themselves as Halloween characters (Diplo’s “DJ Dip” costume comes with sunglasses and Crocs, while Petras’ “Slut” look references her last album Slut Pop). And Lil Nas X had a hilarious reply to being turned into the model for the “gay person in terrible outfit” costume.
The meme took off as others riffed on the generic-yet-oddly-specific formula for prepackaged Halloween costumes (remember the version of Beetlejuice who was rebranded “Juice Demon“?), and we saw everyone from “Cunty Corporate Criminal” (Gerri in Succession) to “Polyamorous Mixologist.”
But the popularity of fake getups that included “Gay,” “Lesbian” and “Bisexual” in the description led to some confusion — and headaches for Spirit Halloween itself. One Twitter user, apparently believing a phony “Gay Guy” costume they’d seen online was real, demanded an explanation from the corporate account. “Seriously, Spirit Halloween?” The meme shows a smiling man with a rainbow pride flag draped over his shoulders.
The product is not an actual costume sold on the Spirit Halloween website (though there are still plenty of real ones available). The company quickly responded on Twitter, writing, “This is not an officially licensed costume from our company. Photoshopping our packages seems to be trending at the moment.”
Spirit Halloween added that they “will be passing this to our review team,” though it’s unclear what action, if any, has been taken. Rolling Stone has reached out to the company through Twitter and a media contact to ask if they are considering cease-and-desist notices for meme-makers, or filing copyright claims in order to have the posts taken down. They have yet to reply.
It’s not the first time Spirit Halloween had to disavow the “Gay Guy” costume, either. Two days earlier, they replied to a Twitter user asking “wtf is this?” of the doctored image, assuring them that it is “not something we carry or have carried before.”
Another meme that depicted actor Rhys Darby’s character in the HBO series Our Flag Means Death as a “Gay Loser” costume irritated his wife, Rosie Carnahan-Darby, who called it “rude” and said they would have to invoice Spirit Halloween for the use of his image. After she expressed hope that “it is someone’s shit attempt at humour and it is photoshopped,” another user confirmed that it was.
Carnahan-Darby replied that she had “already alerted” her husband’s team, “so the Halloween spirit people might get a call.”
Spirit Halloween has inspired no shortage of baseless internet rumors this month: just last week, fans had Meghan Trainor trending as they theorized that she was the model in a nun costume on their website. But for the retailer, there’s no reason to be scared of all this brand engagement — it can only help boost profits before they ghost us in November.