How can I make my "red tape menace" costume theme more clear
October 29, 2013 8:21 PM   Subscribe

11th hour costume question: how can I make the theme behind "red tape menace" (bureaucratic Russian, with literal red tape) more apparent? As I'm in charge of reviewing public applications of sorts, I have been called a "red tape machine" by family members, and I like the general idea/joke, especially as this is a costume to wear to work. The elements of my costume can be seen here.

The elements of my costume are: Russian hat of some sort, a black waterproof jacket (synthetic material with matte finish), dark grey/green cargo pants, hiking boots, and actual red tape (thick, masking-type tape).

In the past, I carried the roll of red tape around and made a red arm band, and this year, I was thinking of adding a red star to the back of my jacket. What more can I do to emphasize the bureaucratic and Russian elements of my theme? If nothing else, I was thinking of making a red name badge with "бюрократ" (Bureaucrat? that's Google's auto-translation).
posted by filthy light thief to Grab Bag (15 answers total)
Response by poster: As this is an 11th hour costume, additional elements should be things I already have around the house, or I can pick up with ease tomorrow. I was thinking of more designs with the red tape, but I don't want to lose the theme in too much decoration. Cheers!
posted by filthy light thief at 8:24 PM on October 29, 2013

lots and lots and lots and lots of forms and rubber stamps?
posted by Lucinda at 8:28 PM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

A bandolier of rubber stamps would be awesome, or a self-inking dater that makes that wonderful sound when stamping. A rolodex if you can find one, and a notebook to take note of names and activities (someone hands you a drink without the proper form-- "I'll have to talk to my supervisor about this.")

I would have a book of forms that you can fill out on the spot and tape to people. Red tape and the Red menace are both good at infiltrating and spreading.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:43 PM on October 29, 2013

I don't know about the Russian side, but if someone was dressed as any iteration of "red tape", I would want to see more than an arm band or a star.

If I were you, I'd get 20-30 yards of red ribbon* and go wild with it. Festoon the hat. Let it drip from your sleeves. Overflow out of your sleeves and/or collar. Let it drift behind you in little piles. You are Red Tape. Be excessive about it, in other words.

You can also go as crazy as you want to with sticky duct tape type stuff, of course. But flowing red ribbons might be a a little more in the spirit of the thing.

Re Russian and Institutional etc, my first thought is that your core outfit should be militaristic, and probably militaristic in that sort of toy soldier Czarist way that reads as iconically Russian in the West. Imagine yourself playing Red Tape in a ballet by Tchaikovsky.

If you go Soviet at all, I'd use the video for Elton John's "Nikita" as inspiration. Don't get too specific, but just bold, icy, and militaristic.

*Tape wasn't always sticky. The original "red tape" was more like red cord or ribbon.
posted by Sara C. at 8:50 PM on October 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

I recommend looking at this brief clip of an official at Franz Kafka international airport; you must properly follow proper protocols.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 8:56 PM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think you should wear a suit, not militaristic gear. You are a bureaucrat, sitting behind a desk stamping and rejecting applications, and as Sara says, you need to go crazy with the red tape, as if you yourself have been overwhelmed with it. The rubber stamps would be perfect, you can carry a notepad and issue citations by stamping them and signing them, tearing out the page and handing it to people.
posted by Joh at 9:32 PM on October 29, 2013

You're gonna need a clip board, a pencil and a pair of glasses that you can wear on the end your nose to peer over disdainfully.
posted by islander at 9:46 PM on October 29, 2013

Seconding ribbon in favor of tape. You can string it on whatever and declare that thing decommissioned by your authority (vested by the state; "it's out of my hands, sorry"). Introduce a simple condition that, if met, cuts through all that obnoxious red tape. As your "comrades" play along, complicate things with "new regulations," and if those are met, begin rules-lawyering. When the bureaucrat is satisfied, reveal a pair of safety scissors and perform your solemn duty. This is a simple prop act, really. If you encounter trouble coming up with new rules on the spot, pretend you're playing calvinball.

The bureaucrat is never satisfied, of course.
posted by troll at 10:09 PM on October 29, 2013

I'd carry a bunch of manila folders, filled with documents, tied with red tape that has wax and/or metal seals dangling from it; and, if you can find or make one, a really huge rubber stamp. Then I'd go around saying "Stamp your papers, comrade?"
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:16 PM on October 29, 2013

Definitely a suit.

And you need a price tag.
posted by rue72 at 11:59 PM on October 29, 2013

Have you played Papers Please?
posted by empath at 2:23 AM on October 30, 2013

I agree with Joe in Australia: you need a large rubber stamp with which you can reject things.

Possibly you build this quickly with cardboard and masking tape, or perhaps buy a real rubber stamp.

Perhaps you can carry some forms that people need to fill out? You can then reject the forms or perhaps the forms can come pre-rejected.

Also, you should send people to other offices. People always need to be sent to another office.

It might also be good to have a list of instructions that have been copied so often that they are not possible to read?

I thank you for supporting all things bureaucratic.
posted by jazh at 2:26 AM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Use the red tape to create a large Authorized "Stamp" on the back of your jacket.
posted by zinon at 7:24 AM on October 30, 2013

Red crepe paper ribbon streamers can be bought at the local Walgreens or a stationery store. Cheap and easy to wrap yourself in lots of it.
posted by gingerbeer at 7:39 AM on October 30, 2013

Make some complicated forms for fellow partygoers to fill out that ask for difficult to obtain information in order to get anything from you. Like, the Grab A Beer Form that asks for the answer to the Fröberg Conjecture and your mom's opinion on colony collapse disorder, and must be stapled to a copy of their first driver's permit and a picture of Betty Grable.
posted by troika at 2:13 PM on October 30, 2013

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