Some random thoughts on Halloween
Monday, October 28, 2013 5:00 PM
WINNEMUCCA - Halloween is a mere two days away - the much-anticipated annual gorging of pure sugar confections by kids, and on a school night, mind you.
For adults, it's a night of escapism, the chance to step out of the daily ho hum and embrace the alter ego, and, yes, another party night to add to the calendar.
Forbes reports that Halloween is the fourth most popular holiday for consumer spending, behind Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter. Thanksgiving spending? It's a turkey, stuffing and potatoes.
The number of consumers who will participate in Halloween activities this year is down at 158 million from the 170 million in 2012, according to the National Retail Federation. The average amount consumers will spend on Halloween this year is $75.03.
So what are the popular costumes this year? Costumes mirror popular culture - movies, television, sports, the world of pop music, etc. Some are one-hit wonders that nobody will remember (or care about) next year.
I have no idea what Despicable Me Minion costume is about, but it's trending this year, according to the NRF, which estimates $2.6 billion will be spend on costumes. Also popular are Miley Cyrus costumes (not recommended for women over age 42), along with Duck Dynasty costumes (not much of a stretch for some folks I know), Batman, Gatsby garb and, of course, the old standby zombie.
The costumes I grew up with don't cut it anymore. There's not much interest in Davy Crockett or GI Joe or any cultural references from the 1970s or 1980s? They are out of vogue and dated.
You don't see werewolves around much anymore on Halloween. It used to be a fairly quick and easy costume to put together for really hairy guys. Let the beard grow out, buy some fake fangs and go out without a shirt.
Vampires aren't what they used to be, either, cheapened by the succession of "Twilight" films. Anyone old enough to remember the 1970s daytime soap opera "Dark Shadows" knows that the fictional Barnabas Collins personified the vampire - cool, complex, cold-hearted.
My mom forbid me from watching that show after I asked (pleaded) for a large cross to sleep with in my bedroom. My pre-adolescent imagination was further stoked by a babysitter who, picking up on my fear, insisted that vampires were real.
I've never been a fan of the Freddy Krueger movies or slasher films of that genre. I've never actually watched one in its entirety. They lacked any socially redeeming value - just sociopathic, psychotic violence sans any sort of interesting plot or narrative.
FoxNews.com reported that the enforcers of political correctness are out on college campuses this Halloween. The dean of students at the University of Colorado at Boulder warned against wearing costumes that could lead to "inaccurate and hurtful portrayals" of other cultures in the college community.
The University of Minnesota also recently sent an email to students, according to Fox, that raised the issue of wearing costumes that "inappropriately perpetuate racial, cultural and gender stereotypes."
I've never been accused of being touchy-feely, but really, in this day and age, even the most unsophisticated rube ought to know there's nothing humorous to be found in making fun of minorities or reinforcing stereotypes.
African Americans don't think it's funny when white people wear blackface. Native Americans don't appreciate costumes that mock their culture in the same old tired cliche. There's no reason to offend anyone on a night that's about having fun.
Anybody who thinks it's socially acceptable to wear those sorts of costumes is probably a hillbilly. If so, they should take offense at anybody wearing a costume consisting of a beat up hat, too-short and worn-out denim overalls and puffing on a corncob pipe.
So on Thursday night watch out for the kids around town, and the adults too.
Steve Lyon is editor of the Humboldt Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.