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Trick-or-treating takes a tasteless turn

4:31 AM, Oct 29, 2013   |    comments
(Photo: Todd Plitt, USA TODAY)
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Once again, Halloween is bringing out the bad taste in trick-or-treaters.

Beyond Walking Dead zombies, Ariel Castros, twerking Cyruses, even bloodsoaked Jackie and John Kennedys making the holiday party rounds, there are some get-ups that have reached social media's definition of crossing the line: offensive Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman costumes and celebrities in blackface.

Julianne Hough, the actress/singer elevated to stardom as a professional dancer on ABC's Dancing With the Stars, was hammered on social media after she appeared at a Friday night Halloween part wearing black face and a prison jumpsuit, imitating Crazy Eyes, a character on Netflix series Orange is the New Black. The getup drew rebukes from the NAACP and actress Martha Plimpton, who called Hough a "moron."

Deluged by other negative tweets, Hough apologized on Twitter.

"I am a huge fan of the show Orange is the New Black, actress Uzo Aduba, and the character she has created. It certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way. I realize my costume hurt and offended people and I truly apologize," Hough tweeted.

Floridians Greg Cimeno and William Filene have yet to issue any apologies for their get-ups as Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, however.

In a photo since pulled from Facebook, Filene, in blackface and a blood-soaked hoodie, is dressed as Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old shot to death during a tussle with Zimmerman outside a Sanford, Fla., townhouse complex in February 2012. The 25-year-old posed with Cimeno, wearing a neighborhood watch T-shirt and pointing two fingers, gun-like, at the blackfaced Cimeno's head. Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder earlier this year.

"Anything for a laugh," Cimeno, 22, commented before the picture's removal. In another comment he said, "Not too funny. It's f****** hilarious!!!"

The photo went viral after appearing on Instagram, drawing the ire of civic activists and the Twitter universe.

Barry Cunningham, a social media director based in Fort Lauderdale, says social media can serve as a tool to rid the Internet of offensive comments and photos, but only to a point.

"It brings about notoriety and attention you can get for free -- and instead of maybe being an isolated incident, you may see more people doing it,'' Cunningham says. "With the Internet, there are no boundaries any more, and we don't know what the next boundary is going to be."

Cunningham has been curating Halloween costumes on Twitter at #halloween. The Trayvon Martin costume is about the most offensive he's seen.

"People are sick,'' he says. "(Trayvon's) dead. His parents are going to seen this picture. You can't get much lower than this."

Gary Strauss, USA TODAY

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