A Question Of Questions

   Halloween is a time that brings out the wicked in people it seems. For the most part it’s just for fun. It’s a laugh to be a little naughty. For others though Halloween and Devil’s Night becomes a cover for darker desires. Cowards take to the streets on Devil’s Night to burn, burn, burn the cities down as they bemoan how boring and horrible and pointless the places they live are. And others turn their attentions to Halloween where they can take advantage of the young, the weak, and the kind hearted. You will even get those who refute and denounce the dual days, one once hallowed and the other now feared, using this season to trick people into a lecture on Old Time Religion in the guise of a good scare.

Halloween is an interesting holiday because despite how we have tried we just can’t seem to tame it. The only thing we have done is take it away from the children and made it all about the adults. We have shuttered our neighborhoods, we have sexualized the costumes, we have hardened and embittered and forgotten what it meant to have this day as a kid. The danger, the fun, the promise of what may lay ahead. And the freedom, good god the freedom in Halloween. We’ve taken most of that from kids and have hoarded it for ourselves so we can let our Ids out and let our darker natures loose. Oh yes, there is evil loose on Halloween but the demons that stalk the streets are merely humans and nothing more, obsessed with the service of self at all costs.

And therein lies the rub, of sorts, the razor in the apple, the service of the self. We forget, all too easily, that at its heart Halloween is meant to be dangerous. Now, we prefer our danger to be manageable, and I think that as we’ve evolved we’ve done everything possible to control the danger of the world. But we don’t want to fully contain Halloween, not completely, we just want it to be a safer sort of danger.

But with some of the leeway we allow on Halloween there come questions and you need to be able to own the answers you have. And why is a big part of what Halloween is about.

Why…

Why do women dress so sexy?

The sad part of this is that too often when a women dresses overtly sexy there is a stigma attached to what she’s doing. It goes beyond someone playing a character, having fun, or doing something they wouldn’t normally do (which tends to be the most common reason I have ever found) it becomes a way for the woman to secretly reveal some sort of deep seated sluttiness, which is crazy. The need we have as a society to put everyone into categories, into boxes, and to want to sum up a person’s character on an isolated incident. See, here’s the thing, you can learn a lot from someone on what they choose to do, especially in intimate moments, but you never learn everything. I know I dressed as Spider Man as a kid for Halloween yet, well, I never really obsessed over being either Spidey OR a superhero. It was a costume. And sometimes…people want to dress in a way that is counter to their every day persona. Do some men dress as women on Halloween because they have a desire to do it more often, sure, I suppose it happens, but mostly it’s because the men who do dress like that are always acting ‘manly’ and it’s nice to just be someone else sometimes and to act against type.

Why do we dress in racist ways?

This is a very involved question and answer and only brings pitfalls but hey, here’s my two cents. To me there’s nothing inherently wrong with dressing as generally anything BUT in doing so you have to know 1. why you are doing it and 2. that there are ramifications. In modern society we are still struggling desperately with hundreds of years of racism and bigotry so dressing as a black person when you are white just won’t fly, and reasonably so. It’s seen that the person is making fun of or light of another race and is seen as insensitive at the least and racist at the most. The thing though is context and how you do it. Now, I cannot say that there is a time in today’s society where anyone should think they should dress as someone from another race or ethnicity because it’s too dangerous and too hard to do BUT to act as if it’s inherently wrong is naive. Halloween is BASED on being something you are not. It’s based on tricking the dead and we’ve changed that to tricking the living. People want to push boundaries and challenge norms, which is why there are so many gray area costumes. The thing though is that we need to have these conversations. We need to talk about WHY it is insensitive to dress as another race or ethnicity. We NEED to talk about this, and rationally, because we need to understand it. We want so much to tell people why things are wrong without helping them to see why it is or why we think it is but there is no such thing as an absolute. Dressing as Apollo Creed and going out with friends all dressed as ROCKY characters is not racist. It’s naive. It’s naive to think that someone won’t get upset. Unless you are acting in a cartoonish way that demeans the character and their race then all you are doing is portraying a character. Not necessarily wise, but it isn’t fair to cry RACIST and treat the person as such. The problem is with costumes that are blatantly, gleefully, terribly racist like the ‘Arab’, the ‘Asian’, the ‘Mexican’, and on and on and on. That is where you get into the deep, dark waters you don’t want to tread. But those are the costumes where you can start with a discussion, an analysis of Why. Why do we dress that way? We dress like others to become them, and sometimes to mock them. The thing is that we need to educate one another as to WHY these things are not OK. Maybe not OK now, and maybe not ever again. But adults need to act like adults. We need to stop acting as if humans are sacred and we cannot take a light jab, or the notion that someone is mimicking us. Learning about one another is the only way we can all start treating one another as what we are – HUMANS. Does it mean to dress like a pickaninny or ‘injun’? NO! It means that you need to understand WHY it’s offensive to dress as those things and need to understand that some people still don’t see why it is offensive. It doesn’t mean those people are stupid, or racist, or anything more than just not informed. But as such we need to lighten the hell up.

Not everything is life and freakin’ death.

We have let ourselves get such thin skin over everything that we are becoming private bullies. We pick at one another online, call names, and post hateful things, but yet we want to be treated as if we are geniuses that are beloved by all and heaven help the person that dares to say otherwise. We are all, in our way, offensive. We need to stop being on guard all the time, waiting to be offended, or upset. We need to stop preaching about what is racist, sexist, and hateful and take one moment, ONE MOMENT to check the context, the reasoning, and to look beyond the surface. We need to because as a society we are so tuned to come to arms (from a far and the digital safety of our devices) over any slight, real or imagined, that all we do anymore is cry wolf. We all make mistakes in judgment and have lapses of common sense and we need to remember that before we start burning people at the stakes over things that could be our own misinterpretation or someone’s misunderstanding of what’s appropriate people deserve the chance to explain themselves.

Why the gory costumes?

I think that with the changing of tastes in society we are also jaded as to what is scary. Witches and ghosts and the like are not as generally scary as they once were. We tend to build things up and then pull them down so that the thing becomes a cartoon and they lose their fear factor. In recent years we have gone so far as to sexualize the modern horror icons so that even they, cartoonish as THEY are, are not ‘scary’. So what is scary, well not gore but, gory costumes ARE fascinating. There’s an artistry to the home made gore show and there’s even an artistry and showmanship to store bought masks. Basically though, when in doubt shock. It has worked for films, music, art, and works for Halloween. If you can’t think of something scary or original then you can always offend and shock.

Halloween is such a wonderful, scary, weird little holiday that refuses to be tamed. I know a day will come when we let go of the celebration, where we stop letting kids go out trick or treating and it is just another party time for adults and when that happens the rest will fall. It will happen eventually. Once that small touch of innocence is gone it’s just another occasion to debauch and there’s enough of those as it is. But with Halloween we are given an opportunity to ask and question so many things and we NEED to. Why do we love this holiday? Why is it so dangerous? Why do people do things they know will get them into trouble?

Of all of our holidays it is Halloween that allows us to look into the darkness for answers that we may not always like and questions we don’t fully understand. Maybe we need a little danger in our lives. Things are too safe these days and we could all use a good old fashioned Halloween scare.

c

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