Look … before your correspondent is branded as the Ebenezer Scrooge of the Halloween set, let me say that I really like Halloween. Readers of this blog know my high respect for the tradition of Gothic literature, my taste for Gothic films, and my sometimes recherché taste in the arts. So, I like Halloween quite a bit.
But, something has gone seriously off-kilter. When I was a boy, my brothers and I went out trick-or-treating for several hours in home-made costumes (or some pretty spiffy store-bought ones made by Ben Cooper), went home and ate candy and then looked at whatever spooky movie the local television channels played until bedtime. And, let me tell you, this was a great night.
Now, children are kept off the streets (have you seen an unattended child anywhere lately?) and adults get into sometimes quite gruesome or lewd costumes and party with abandon.
Think I’m kidding? According to the NRF’s Halloween Consumer Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics, more costumes than ever will be bought in 2014. Add to that, more than two-thirds (67.4%) of celebrants will buy Halloween costumes for the holiday, the most in the survey’s 11 year history. And the price tag? Wait for it …. Americans will spend $7.4 billion on Halloween this year.
I will not say that this money would be better spent on books (though it would), or clothing, or on-line courses or simple, edible food. But, I have to say that this is madness. We have taken a simple, fun holiday away from children and tarted it up for adult consumption. Do we really need to see Halloween zombie masks complete with rotting jaw bone sliding from the skull? Or adult women in bunny suits or corseted as seductive vamps? And does Halloween have to mean a complete abandon of the governors of decent behavior and a celebration of the untrammeled ID?
Again – I get it. I like Halloween fine. We are hosting a Halloween party ourselves, this year. But somehow the more innocent pleasures of Halloween have given way to Mardi Gras excess. Can't we find a way to integrate children into this holiday once again? Because no matter how much I like Halloween now, I sure liked it more when I was 12.
And now, onto Thanksgiving….