Taking Back Halloween

We need to take back Halloween!

Yes, let’s take it back.
TAKE IT BACK!

Only…we’re the ones that gave it away.

We’re the ones that let people take it.

WE are the ones that made it so easy to take.

Here’s the thing, I love Halloween. LOVE IT. RARRR! Halloween, like Christmas and Thanksgiving, are tied to my childhood and that part of me that keeps me tied to the child within. They are holidays that let me retain a small part of my wonder and a small piece of magic that still exists in the world. Saying this, you can guess that I have been sad to see how the holiday I love is slowly being transformed into a beast I barely recognize.

Most ‘Halloween People’ will point to society, that society has gotten too politically correct and too thin-skinned and that you can’t dress up as you like anymore. But, you see, that’s on us.

THAT’S ON US!

Once upon a time dressing in black face, and as a Native American, and as cultural and ethnic stereotypes seemed like a great old time. Boy howdy was it funny. Only, it wasn’t. It never was. It was if you were white, or at least not the person being lampooned. Then it was a laugh riot. How awful it would be to be a kid though and to see people dressed like someone from your culture, or race, or ethnicity and making fun of those things. Making fun of you. Boy, that’s a hoot. The world isn’t more politically correct, we have just realized that oh, wait, there are a lot of people on this planet that don’t look like ‘me’ – me being whomever you are – and maybe my cheap laugh isn’t worth it if it hurts someone’s feelings. We have realized that a simple holiday, steeped in tradition or not, doesn’t give us a pass when it comes to intentionally offending people and trying to make fun of people.

‘Everyone’s so sensitive’ some may say.

Well, with good cause.

Rights have been hard fought and hard won in America and they are still being fought for so it’s very, well, stupid, to think that your costuming laziness is far more important than making someone feel like they are less than you or less than anyone. People’s lifestyle choices, race, or culture don’t give you the right to parade around as a cheap mimic of some broad stereotype of what you THINK those people are. Halloween pushes the boundaries, it skirts the borders, it is about FUN and FEAR not about being bullies. Of everything you can be, from cowboy, to astronaut, to vampire, to monster, and to a million shades of things in between why do we choose to be the things that turn people into a cartoon caricature? Why do we want to be offensive and nasty? It’s stupid. It’s stupid and it’s lazy and it’s childish. And why on earth do you want to fall on the side of arguing for the right to be something inherently offensive? What glory is in that argument other than ‘It’s My RIGHT!’, and sure it is, and it’s their right to tell you what they think of you when you run into someone who you’re making fun of.

Again, it’s about skirting the boundaries and borders, not crossing them.

At least it isn’t to me.

If the best thing you can think about to be for Halloween is something offensive, a gag that gets one laugh and nothing else, then you really aren’t Halloween-ing right. You’re just trying to be offensive and then throwing your hands up as if to say ‘why so sensitive?’. You could get away with that shtick before but not any longer. And GOOD. We’re better than that, as a society and as people and you need to get over it if that was the best you could do. Society has started to FINALLY move on from some things and it’s time that Halloween moved on as well.

But it isn’t just about the costumes.

No.

It’s about how we portray Halloween.

We have stopped making our houses ‘scary’ and ‘creepy’ and are going for the gut gross-out reaction. The revulsion. As a die-hard horror fan I love the old blood and guts of horror but if you are going to put that same blood and those same guts in your yard then you’re going to get someone upset. That’s the risk you take. When you push past the boundaries and into deep waters you have to be ready for the consequences. it’s not about people being thin skinned but about confronting people with something you know is not an every day norm and is something that will press a button for someone. Dress however you like. Decorate your yard and house however you like – but if someone calls you out then don’t act as if you can’t understand why they did it. And here’s the thing, we started decorating our homes because kids were trick or treating and families were coming by. We wanted to scare kids, a little, but not upset them or disturb them. I love the gnarly stuff in haunted houses but that’s where those things belong – haunts, not on your home.

Again, what is Halloween about?

Pushing boundaries and borders.

What we’re doing, with our push to get more extreme and more outrageous is we’re making it about us, we adults. Even if you don’t have, don’t want, and don’t like kids you still WERE a kid once. What we are doing is taking the holiday away from them. WE ARE! We are the ones pushing for sexier costumes, even on kids. We’re the ones buying those costumes. We’re the ones that still buy the big mustache, poncho, and sombrero so we can be the ‘fat lazy Mexican’ for one one night. WE ARE. There is nothing wrong with ‘store bought’ costumes, but we are the ones that set the trends for what they sell. Sure, they will always skew towards ‘pop culture’ but they also follow trends. Kids don’t need to be Winnie the Pooh or a princess but they sure as heck don’t need to dress like sexy versions of either. What point is that? Is THAT what kids want to be? Is that THEIR fantasy or ours? Is that what THEY want or what we think they want? Or what we want for them? If we wanna empower kids, let’s start there. Right there. Be what you wanna be. Cheerleader? Cool. Waitress? Cool? Astronaut, or scientist, or president, or whatever your heart dreams of being then GREAT. Why does it have to be sexy though?

And if an adult wants to dress sexy, then so be it. Whatever. You choose how you portray yourself. You make that choice. YOU! Kids have us as their filters because they don’t always see the big picture. We do. But as an adult, do what you want, with the understanding that there may backlash if you push the boundary too far.The modern holiday is in part about being someone else, so, well, be someone else. If you are an adult. Though, really, try harder. Be creative. What do YOU want to be? For me, well, I always find it awkward when I dress like Sexy Freddy or Sexy Lady Cop or Sexy Butcher and someone else dresses the same way. Seriously – Awkward!

The holiday is changing, is evolving. That’s what holidays do – They evolve as society does. That doesn’t mean they need to go away though. Halloween has become an important holiday socially and it should be preserved. Just as Christmas shouldn’t go away – nor should other religious holidays either for that matter. The holidays will change and evolve but they don’t need to go away and they won’t if we keep celebrating them. If we keep them in our hearts.

Many schools and communities are turning away from Halloween for various reasons, though many of them are about safety. I can’t say that I am sad that a lot of kids don’t get to go out trick or treating but with trunk or treats a slice of that is being retained at least. The thing is that if we love Halloween, and we foster that love in our kids, we can make whatever we want of the holiday. So what if the school doesn’t celebrate it? So what if the local community doesn’t celebrate it. We make our own fun. Throw a party. Do a friends only trick or treat among a group of your friends at their houses. Have a ‘scary’ movie night. Make a haunted house in your home. Decorate your house. Tell scary stories. Make a tradition for you and your friends and your family. I love and miss the community holiday but, well, a community is just the place where we live and work, it doesn’t HAVE to be anything more than that, we just want it to be more. But if the community doesn’t want to be more, if it’s too expensive, or risky, or whatever, then why should that stop us from having fun? They can take away aspects of the day but they can’t take the day away if we don’t let them and why would we do that?

Halloween has been around a while. I mean a WHILE a while so it’s not going anywhere any time soon. But it will change. It IS changing. A big part of that is our fault. We’re forgetting the fun aspects of the holiday and focusing on the adult aspects. It’s a holiday that is equally for we adults and for the kids and as such we need to remember that. As a culture we have gotten into the WHAT ABOUT ME habit with everything where we demand that the world cater to us. THAT is not a PC issue, it’s a selfishness issue and it plays to all audiences. We all want what we want when we want it well, BECAUSE! That’s not how the world works. That’s not how this holiday works. It’s about US. The communal experience. You can celebrate it however you like, but you need to keep in mind that other people want to enjoy the holiday – or not – as well, and you don’t get to dictate how they experience it.

There is SO much to love with Halloween and while it is changing, and not necessarily for the better, we don’t have to let it die. With our childish and immature behavior, and with our selfish actions we are damaging something we love though. We are trading away the spirit of the season in pursuit of a hedonistic holiday of the self. If you really love Halloween, love it more than as an excuse to get drunk and be ridiculous, then you’ll take a moment to remember what it was that made you love the holiday. Once you do that you’ll get back in touch with what makes Halloween special for you and once you know, you’ll wanna make sure it’s just as special for everyone else, too.

And here’s one last thing – people can’t take from you something that you gladly give away.

ALL HAIL HALLOWEEN!

c

http://www.meepsheep.com – for stories about monsters and horrors and such.

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