This is Halloween (2005): An Old Fashioned Halloween
[I know, it's barely mid September and the weather still says summer, but I am in full Halloween mode.]
Halloween has changed.
Back in the day (and by that, I mean over 30 years ago), political correctness was still a thing of the future. So we dressed up for Halloween as gypsies and bums and hobos (the latter two later known as The Homeless or The Housing Deprived) and other stereotypical costumes. No one really paid attention to the fact that we might have been insulting someone because no one cared. Halloween was about candy and dressing up and being scared. End of story.
Most of the boys at the time did the usual horror costumes: Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy and the proverbial white-sheeted ghost. They would jump out from behind the bushes and scare the girls and we would scream in exaggerated fright and run to the doorstep of the next house on the block.
We had parades at school and some of the kids would march around with fake, dripping blood and rubber masks with mutilated eyeballs. The goriness was all part of the fun. That's what Halloween was for: shrieking and screaming through the neighborhood and finishing it off with a family viewing of Chiller Theater, munching on the candy loot while hanging onto Mom in fright.
But times have changed and we'll have none of that gory, scary stuff anymore. Kids are vulnerable and impressionable, don't you know? The blood might scare them. The costumes might offend someone. I mean, what if some kid in your school had his whole family murdered by a crazed ax-weilding monster? Don't you think that costume would make him feel sad, Johnny?
Even in the junior high school, where the kids are old enough to go see scary movies on their own and wise enough to know that Freddy Krueger doesn't exist, notices come home about appropriate Halloween wear. No blood. No gore. Nothing scary. Nothing that might be deemed offensive to anyone, anyhwere. Please wear only costumes of famous literary characters or great people like scientists and inventors.
Right. Like a 14 year old wants to dress up like Huck Finn. No, a 14 year old - if he was even going to dress up at all on Halloween - would most likely don one of those rubber masks that turn your face into something out of a Stephen King movie. Even the girls want to dress as Freddy or Jason. No Madam Curies here.
Schools have scaled back their Halloween festivities, anyhow. Some people are offended by the Halloween itself, calling it an invitation to the devil, a terrible day that shows children that evil exists in the world. Some think you worship Satan if you celebrate Halloween.
It's about the candy, stupid. Yes, I know Halloween has a long history behind it, I know the origins of the day are lost on almost everyone now. But this is what we grew up with: a day to get scared and get candy. Nothing to do with religion, nothing to do with historical figures. Schools are changing their Halloween parties into Fall Festivals, complete with cutesy songs and plays about Johnny Appleseed and cookies shaped like squirrels. No costumes, kids, unless you want to dress up like your favorite leaf!
I got your PC Halloween right here. I refuse to teach my children that Halloween is anything other than a day to scare and be scared; each year I vow to show my kids what this holiday used to be like, before it became sanitized in the school system just like everything else.
I arm them with frightening costumes and socks filled with shaving cream and let them loose on the neighborhood - along with several dozen other kids whose parents remember what Halloween is supposed to be like. And when they get home, their bags filled with goodies, smelling like they went swimming in a pool of Barbasol, we pop in some good old scary movies. The black and white kind, with outrageous monsters and thin plots and lots of screaming. We dump all their candy on the floor, sort out the healthy stuff and the pennies, and stuff ourselves on chocolate and sour gummie worms.
Long live the ghosts of Halloween past.
[Ok, so my kids don't really trick or treat anymore, but we still manage to have some excellent Halloweens together]