5 Things That Have Almost Destroyed Halloween
Remember when you were a kid and Halloween meant scary costumes, a pantsload of candy and maybe setting a neighbor's car on fire as a prank? Those were good times. The first Halloween costume I can remember having was the Incredible Hulk, only it was a ghetto one with a molded plastic mask and some kind of weird tunic featuring a picture of the Hulk on it, because the Hulk liked to wear autobiographical tunics back then, I guess. You didn't question Lou Ferrigno, because if you did, he'd drink a liter of liquid egg, then punch your sternum so hard that you'd vomit bloody stool.
But Halloween isn't always the beacon of snack-sized Snickers and girls dressed as Kojak with cleavage that it should be. For years, nefarious little shits have been trying to have their way with it and make it awful, because some people just want to watch the world burn.
Jesus indeed. I'm no theologian, but I suspect right now that nowhere in the Bible is there a passage denouncing Halloween. And, of somewhat more importance, you should never, ever base your life on rules set out in a book written in a time when people thought the world was flat and the average life expectancy was under 30. Fuckin' 30. Do you think a bunch of 25-year-old elderly people whose greatest achievement so far was taming the horse knew jack shit about jack shit? Of course not.
That said, modern fringe Christians (those Christians who make normal Christians wake up mid facepalm every morning from sleep exasperation) like to believe that Halloween is evil and sinister. Still. In modern day today. Not in Salem 200 years ago. Crazy little dinks.
In order to avoid the seduction of devilry and Twizzlers, some few Christian soldiers have set up Jesusween, the worst-named attempt at stemming the tide of once yearly Satanic sugar rushes ever. So what is Jesusween, and does it have anything to do with Messianic penis, as the name suggests? It's even worse.
According to the site, JesusWeen "is a global initiative to ensure non-Christians receive educational materials about Jesus." Because maybe you have yet to hear about Jesus; he likes to keep shit on the down low. You know how meek and humble Christianity is, historically. If the world's religions had a party, Buddhism would be shirtless on the patio drinking pina coladas, Judaism would be telling self-deprecating jokes near the snacks, Islam would be daring me to finish this joke and Christianity, of course, would have stayed home, because it never wants to bother anyone.
Now in and of itself, Jesusween isn't entirely offensive. If you don't want to celebrate Halloween, no one is making you. But then that's kind of why Jesusween is offensive. Because someone, somewhere, is doing something that these people feel is not Christian and therefore they felt the need to co-opt it and make it about their religion, when Halloween is not about any religion at all. Was it once, a bajillion years ago? Sure. But this Halloween, you go outside and ask any of the kids dressed as Avengers what pagan god they're paying tribute to and see if you get many answers before the police ask you why you're talking to so many strange kids on Halloween.
All you need to know about Jesusween is that the man who started it, a pastor, was upset that Halloween had nothing to do with Jesus. This is like painting a crucifix in your toilet bowl because you don't shit hymnals, or excommunicating your cat for not confessing its sins. Of course it has nothing to do with Jesus, because it has nothing to do with Jesus. Stop being ig'nant.
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Halloween is unsafe -- ask anyone who bubble wraps their children before they get to school. Psychos could be at home right now just packing fudge full of cyanide. They're going to pack that fudge until the 31st and then give it to your kids, and your kids will eat it and then die. It happens every year.
Except, of course, it doesn't. And hasn't. No one has ever been poisoned by a crazy Halloween poisoner in the history of ever. But don't let that stop you from ruining the enjoyable trick-or-treating tradition for your kid by instead having them fish candy out of people's trunks like so many splendid hobos with sticky fingers desperate to get wasted on antifreeze.
Trunk-or-treating is what happens when laziness and paranoia collide in a parking lot. You gather some friends from the neighborhood or the church or your local swingers club and you all park your cars somewhere and the kids go around trick-or-treating from car to car instead of at houses. Give it a few more years and we'll just mail each other boxes of candy for each other's kids, and a few years after that we'll just set up sucrose IVs and dim the lights, call it a night.
The entire innovation of trunk-or-treating seems to be totally oblivious to the point of Halloween and why kids enjoy it, boiling it all down to "fatty want candy" and jamming gummy worms in your kids' cavity-riddled mush holes to shut them up for a night. Kids like getting dressed up, prowling the neighborhood in the dark, seeing other costumes and gathering candy, you dumb shits. It's what kids live for. It's what we all live for!
If you're not clear on the appeal of near-senseless collecting, I invite you to play nearly any computer game invented in the last decade. The task of monotonous gathering with minimal reward -- in the case of Halloween, trolling your neighborhood for SweeTarts -- is a driving force in modern entertainment. Our brains get off on tiny rewards given for tiny effort, no matter how much time it takes. Trunk-or-treating just plops it all in your lap at once to the benefit of only those children who start breathing heavily when they see a hill and ponder the dreadful opposition gravity would impose if they needed to walk up it.
For those who can't replace Halloween with the power of Christ or a trunk full of candy corn, there's just an outright ban on the holiday. Schools are the worst for this, as most of the towns from the movie Footloose that hate all things fun have been wiped from the Earth by Kevin Bacon fans.
It shouldn't be surprising that some schools are willing to ban Halloween activities: Give a school board a long enough timeline and it will find a way to ban everything, including holidays, sports, books, evolution, common sense and maybe even students. If you didn't know better, it would be entirely reasonable to assume that every modern school board was run by a coalition consisting of Mr. Burns, Rumpelstiltskin, Glenn Beck, Cruella De Vil and Joseph Kony. Hey, 'member him? The Internet doesn't.
What reason do schools have for not allowing Halloween activities? The spirit of equity. You see, due to cultural, financial and social differences, it's not fair to celebrate something like Halloween. Take a moment to appreciate the lofty, Jenga-like stack of bullshit that represents; it's impressive. Cultural differences? Because of the diversity of cultures these days, it's not fair to celebrate Halloween. By that logic, it is also not fair to celebrate literally anything. Ever. Especially when you toss in financial concerns. It's best to never acknowledge that a world exists outside the school because it will inevitably relate to something that one of those students doesn't experience at home, and we know it's not OK for kids to ever experience anything that's new. Doesn't that contradict the very idea of learning? Shut up, naysayer, and eat these paint chips until you forget your woes!
A school's idea of equality in this case is based on a perverted version of the Wisdom of Solomon. It's best for no one to have a thing than for anyone to have a thing, because if we're all without, at least we'll all be on the same page when someone starts teaching Creationism.
Rob Zombie's Halloween
OK, so this isn't explicitly about the holiday Halloween, but it's the same word, and I'm writing this, so I win. Rob Zombie's Halloween remake is an abomination. It just is.
The original John Carpenter Halloween is a decent movie. If I never see it again, I won't lose sleep or spend nights weeping softly, but I liked it well enough. It obviously struck a chord with horror fans and has endured for decades. Then Rob Zombie stepped in and said, "Look at me, I was in a horrorish metal band and my last name is Zombie and I made this other awful horror movie that literally had a character named Dr. Satan in it, let me remake this," and nobody said no, even though they knew he was going to cast his wife in it, and even though we'd all seen her in House of 1000 Corpses and there was no humanly possible way that her acting had improved enough to allow her to be put on film again. Physics is still trying to work out the equations to calculate how much she sucks, but the variable of how her maniacal, brain-shattering laughter throws how much she sucks into wacky, atom-destroying levels is a real kicker, mathematically speaking.
So Sheri Moon aside, the only reason Carpenter's Halloween was a standout -- and you can argue that I'm wrong, but I need you to be comfortable knowing that, to everyone with sense, I am not wrong, and you may have fallen asleep inside a plastic bag at some point to get you to the point where you disagree with me -- the only reason Halloween worked so well was because of the Michael Myers character. Nothing else in the movie, aside from a catchy score, was really a standout. Was Donald Pleasance good? Sure, but not remarkably so. Did people like Jamie Lee Curtis? I guess so, but you didn't see her boobs until Trading Places, years later. But Myers was meant to be evil personified. He wasn't a killer who had been wronged, he wasn't seeking vengeance or profit, he wasn't trying to prove a Saw-like point or haunting the place where he'd been abandoned by negligent teens. He was literally just a big, psychotic prick who defied sense. It was brilliant. It was.
Then Rob Zombie said, "Nah, let's try to figure out why he kills people." And right there he ruined it, and may as well have made literally every other masked killer movie that ever existed. How a horror fan could look at Halloween and not understand why it was different from every other movie and then decide to change that one thing is mind-boggling. The only reason I can come up with is that, when Zombie was writing the screenplay, his wife wouldn't shut up the entire time, and like some kind of crazy sci-fi sonic weapon, the shrill sound nearly liquefied his brain, and by the time he regained his senses, months had passed and he was already half-done shooting the film, with no memory whatsoever of what stupid shit he had already done.
Raisins, Apples and Toothbrushes
What are you, fuckin' new here? No one has ever in the history of all time wanted a box of raisins, and that isn't even limited to Halloween -- it's ever. Do you like raisins? Ironically, even if you answer yes, it's not true. You really don't. Raisins are the food version of sex with someone you're sort of attracted to but not crazy about, and also they have herpes. It's just not a thing with which you want to be involved.
In the exact same despicable bag as raisins are apples and toothbrushes, but at least those have real-world uses beyond Halloween. But on Halloween, an apple is about as generous a treat as spreading your scrotum skin (or labia, for you ladies) out flat on the edge of a table and having a good whack at it with a rubber mallet.
If you're not sure if kids want fruit on Halloween, feel free to find a kid right now and offer him a choice between a chocolate bar and a pear. The kid who picks the pear probably also has a small shrine of animal heads in his closet and holds hugs way longer than is appropriate.
Your toothbrush is just as thoughtless, and the reason should be obvious -- that kid already has a toothbrush. And if he doesn't, then that's really fucked up, and I don't think he's going to use the one you just gave him. But either way, you don't need strangers giving you oral hygiene tools. How does that kid know that you didn't have that brush up your ass all day before you gave it to him? How do you know that I won't do that to your toothbrush if you invite me over? You need one toothbrush at a time, and they last like six months or so, don't they? At least? Fun-sized Kit Kats last three seconds and then you need another one because that shit isn't fun. Give kids candy, don't be a twat.
You can follow Ian on Twitter @IanFortey and find out what he's doing, maybe invite him over for a sandwich. Hide your toothbrush.
What the Hell Did I Just Read: A Novel of Cosmic Horror, the third book in David Wong's John Dies at the End series, is available now!