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Toronto’s Bozak under fire for Michael Jackson costume

Oct 31, 2012, 1:52 AM EDT

A year after Phoenix forward Raffi Torres came under heavy scrutiny for dressing as Jay-Z, another NHLer is facing a similar storm of controversy.

Late Tuesday night, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Tyler Bozak posted a picture of his Halloween costume — Michael Jackson — and was immediately met with criticism for dressing in blackface.

The picture in question:


Bozak pulled the picture shortly after tweeting it, but defended his actions in a subsequent tweet.

“That’s a tribute to one of my fave artists,” he wrote. “For anyone saying its racist is crazy!”

Last October, Torres faced similar condemnation after he and his wife attended a Halloween party dressed as Jay-Z and Beyonce.

The photo was tweeted by Coyotes teammate Paul Bisonette and opened Torres up to harsh criticisms, with two prominent journalists — Bruce Arthur of the National Post and Bill Platschke of the Los Angeles Times — penning columns about the ramifications of wearing blackface.

The negative response to Torres’ costume was enough for the Phoenix organization to issue a statement defending him.

“There was absolutely nothing racist about Raffi and his wife’s costumes,” the statement read. “Raffi is a huge fan of Jay-Z and his wife loves Beyonce. It was a Halloween party. The fact that this was reported is ridiculous. We will have no further comment.”

At the time of writing, the Maple Leafs have not issued a statement on the Bozak situation.

  1. lroc20 - Oct 31, 2012 at 2:03 AM

    Great costume, dont let the small minds hold u back

  2. thedavesiknowiknow - Oct 31, 2012 at 2:28 AM

    Stupid. So is anyone offended by this. Especially considering that a “Thriller/Bad” era Michael Jackson wouldn’t work without the makeup, and nobody cares much about the other albums. I’m going out as O.J. Simpson tomorrow (in Buffalo). I hope someone gets butt-hurt.

  3. cardmagnet - Oct 31, 2012 at 2:37 AM

    Anyone who has a problem with this should be slapped upside the head.

  4. sheckyrimshot - Oct 31, 2012 at 3:17 AM

    from the man himself (rip) it dont matter if you’re black or white.

  5. xxakshunxx - Oct 31, 2012 at 5:06 AM

    so we want to live in a world where we dont see people as color, but when someone does something like this the first thing people think of is that he’s being racist?? id be more offended that he has the money to get a better mj costume… and by the way its funny as hell when Dave Chappelle does a white face but it cant go the other way around?? smh

    • selldannysell - Oct 31, 2012 at 5:53 AM

      @xxakshunxx — That’s because the act of a black person in white face doesn’t carry the historical baggage as that of a white person in black face. Having said that, as a black man, I don’t find the above photo offensive because it’s not like he’s totally dark and has the exaggerated lips. Google “blackface” and learn some history.

      • crosberries - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:09 AM

        So your saying as I don’t exaggerate my lips my black face for tonight will be fine?

      • crosberries - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:09 AM

        So your saying as long as I don’t exaggerate my lips my black face for tonight will be fine?

      • lordfletcher - Oct 31, 2012 at 10:44 AM

        Over the course of documented history, 2000+ years, we could find something for everyone being racist in their daily attire at work, the way they workout at the gym, or taking a poop in their house. just leave it alone.

        for a halloween costume, painting one’s face is no different than a girl wearing a blonde wig to be Marilyn Monroe for a night. If he decided to put on some lip stick too, whatever, he’s just wearing a costume. IN NO WAY IS HE TRYING TO BE ANYTHING OTHER THAN WHAT IT APPEARS!!!

        Bozak, did nothing wrong.

      • kellyb9 - Nov 1, 2012 at 9:24 AM

        If most people have to google something to find out why they’re offended – they probably shouldn’t be offended.

    • selldannysell - Oct 31, 2012 at 6:14 PM

      @crossberries — My point was I, personally, was not offended by that. But, the earlier poster was comparing apples to oranges when he talked about Dave Chappelle appearing in white face versus a white person appearing in blackface. Bozak wasn’t trying to be racist. Apparently, you are.

  6. xoscroggsxo - Oct 31, 2012 at 6:37 AM

    This is stupid. Play some darn hockey and get a real story to write about. It’s a costume!

  7. girouxvy - Oct 31, 2012 at 6:38 AM

    Why don’t we ask Wayne Simmonds how HE feels! He would most likely think it was a riot! People just need grow up and find something worthwhile to write about. Now, fix the CBA and BRING BACK HOCKEY!!!

  8. icelovinbrotha215 - Oct 31, 2012 at 6:58 AM

    Halloween itself is dumb and unnecessary (look up the origins of this ‘holiday’ and wonder why people celebrate this day). That being said, I’m not really sure how this is racist haha. He dressed up as MJ. I’m surprised he pulled the pic. I don’t see anything wrong with it.

  9. dutchman1350 - Oct 31, 2012 at 7:10 AM

    Dressing as an accused pedophile is more insulting.

  10. mgp1219 - Oct 31, 2012 at 7:11 AM

    It’s a friggin’ COSTUME!!! Aren’t costumes supposed to be something other than who we actually are? It’s not racist because it is not portraying any black in a way that is degrading. Whoever has an issue with this neds to put things in perspective.

    • mgp1219 - Oct 31, 2012 at 7:13 AM

      I meant say any black person. Sorry.

  11. cleekk - Oct 31, 2012 at 7:51 AM

    It is because in this day and age of reality shows, your low IQ people are always looking for a reason to be outraged. And of course, the idiot media is only too happy to stoke the flames of nothing.

  12. csilojohnson - Oct 31, 2012 at 8:13 AM

    What’s all this black face talk. I thought MJ was white….

  13. kiopta1 - Oct 31, 2012 at 8:42 AM

    I consider myself racially sensitive and this is garbage. Nothing he did is racist or ignorant. I really like Jimmy Hendrix am I racist for dressing like him for Halloween and wishing I could play guitar like him?

    • stoneegratz - Oct 31, 2012 at 8:54 AM

      yeah, cause youre white….duhhh

    • tarotsujimoto74 - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:11 AM

      You really like him, but don’t know how to spell his name?

  14. tmoore4075 - Oct 31, 2012 at 8:48 AM

    I do have a problem with this……those pants are way too damn tight.

  15. antkowiak666 - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:07 AM

    sooo this is considered racist….but when the Wayans brothers did white face for the movie”White Chicks”that was for the sake of comedy right!?!
    people need to relax and stop being offended so easily and have a good laugh once in awhile.

  16. 0ffsides - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    Jason Vorhees wears a hocky mask, does this mean that every netminder to don a mask is a deranged serial killer? People need to lighten up, it’s a costume for crying out loud. Put the pic back up Bozak and let all the haters show their true colors, be it white, black, red, yellow. I think their skin is just thin.

  17. bluenoser23 - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    The world needs a collective enema. This is such BS. People just love to search out anything to be offended about. Too many people narrowly defining themselves into this group or that one. Not nearly enough people pulling their head out of their rear end. Bill Maher calls this “fake outrage” and this is a great example of it. So now that you know: please stop this BS!!!!!

  18. spavs412 - Oct 31, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    It’s Halloween right!?!? Isn’t this what our culture roughy us to do since we were born…. WTF people

  19. davebabychreturns - Oct 31, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    Personally I have no real reaction to Bozak’s costume but then I’m a white guy who has literally no idea what it’s like to be the target of racism. I might not really be able to relate to those who are offended by it but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a right to that emotional response.

    People seem to like to hide behind their own ignorance of race and racism, but the fact is that racism is alive and well in our society even if it’s frowned upon in many forms now. The inequalities caused by the overt racism our ancestors lived with and perpetrated take more than a few decades to even out and the psychological effect of living in those conditions can last even longer..

    Blackface is part of a long and shameful tradition of dehumanizing black people, and making the choice to include that in your costume of a black celebrity or figure (which – obviously – is otherwise totally fine) is simply begging for an overwhelmingly negative reaction. Even if that reaction is totally unjustified you have to know it’s coming.

    I know this isn’t going to be popular, but if you think blackface is okay because “whiteface” is, you’re being an idiot.

    If you think that a semi-public figure dressing up in a costume that includes blackface, taking a picture of it and then tweeting it isn’t going to get a negative reaction, you’re being an idiot.

    Apparently Tyler Bozak didn’t think that would happen so I guess he is an idiot as well.

    (Don’t get me wrong, we all do idiotic things from time to time, myself included.)

  20. theenutty - Oct 31, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    So the “under fire” wasn’t any criticism by the public, but by two hack sports journalists. This happens more and more, somebody says or does something, some irrelevant journalist writes a fake outrage piece, and then all his buddies write an article about person X “under fire”, “blasted”, or some other over the top adjective for something that was said or done. In reality, there is no public outcry, but the media has to generate controversy where there isn’t to keep themselves relevant.

    • jwcamp - Oct 31, 2012 at 12:07 PM

      “There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.”-Brendan Behan

  21. hockeyflow33 - Oct 31, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    People lead such small, petty lives. Grow up and stop pretending you were offended

  22. eyeh8goodell - Oct 31, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    Much ado about nothing. If he’d dressed up as Kunta Kinte then maybe there’d be a point.

  23. jwcamp - Oct 31, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    Wait, Michael Jackson was black?

  24. dkphilly1122 - Oct 31, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    This is just pathetic as was Dave’s statement/ comment up further. There is and always has been racism for every race and every RACE suffered and dealt with it at some point in history. We CURRENTLY live in the PRESENT day where NONE of our ANCESTORS racism has anything to do with who we are or what we do. So to say it is wrong for him to dress as MJ with a MASK, “black face” or not is pathetic. It proves some people are still stuck in the past and have there own issues if they wanna call this Racism. We are ALL equal now, regardless of what the history books say from 75 or so years ago. I am white and have friends of every race, they think this is just as hilarious.

    • davebabychreturns - Oct 31, 2012 at 2:17 PM

      I didn’t say that it’s wrong for Bozak to dress as Michael Jackson, hell I never even said it’s wrong to wear blackface.

      I just said it’s obviously a sensitive issue for some and that if you’re a public figure and you do it and post a picture to 90 000 people – plus anyone else who cares to look it up – you should probably not expect things to go over all that well.

      As for claiming that racism is over and that previous generations actions have nothing to do with what happens today, well I just don’t know how to respond to that. Ask Wayne Simmonds if there is still racism in our society. It may not be legally sanctioned but it sure as hell exists.

      Obviously we are all our own people and nobody is the pure product of the past, but to say that centuries of racism are simply null and void now that there’s been 40-50 years since segregation was ended is just myopic. We are all affected by the society we exist within, and our society is in large part the product of the past.

      Anyway I’m not going to argue this any further, obviously my views are in the minority in the comments section of a hockey blog so I’ll just leave it at that.

  25. broadstreetbeatdown - Oct 31, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    He deserves it Lindros was dominant in the 90s. mpg44 i hope you like Seattle cause thats where the broke a$$ Devils are going.

  26. dannythebisforbeast - Oct 31, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    Grow up It’s Halloween and it wasn’t racist

  27. aspinaci - Oct 31, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    Sad that this is it for hockey news.

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