Here at the Views from Here blog, we are not afraid to take on the big issues. But we also believe in the importance of offering our readers both sides of every story. And when I told my wife that I had been toying with a polemic attack on Halloween, she was was so offended that she demanded equal space to respond. What follows is first my attack on Halloween, followed by her defense of Halloween/attack on me.
Point: Enough with the monthlong Halloween celebrations
People, we need to talk about the Halloween Industrial Complex and the way this terrible holiday has taken over the entire month of October.
That’s right, I am not a fan. It’s not because I have some religious objection; I do not. It is not because I shun the macabre; I enjoy the occasional horror flick or a good ghost story.
But the gory scenes in people’s front yards? That one neighbor who goes so far as to have someone hiding in the bushes to scare trick-or-treaters? Costume parties? Candy corn? “The Monster Mash”? No, no, no, definitely no and no.
Face it, guys, Halloween is a crap holiday. You don’t get a day off. You have to put your hands inside the disgusting, gooey guts of a pumpkin, and then face the prospect that the jack-o-lantern you slaved over will end up being smashed in the street by a bunch of terrible teenagers in Insane Clown Posse makeup.
And worst of all, Halloween has no good food traditions. Thanksgiving has turkey and cranberry sauce; Easter has ham; Christmas has egg rolls (my aunt is from Thailand; in my family it does!); and on the summer holidays at least you get to barbecue.
I know what you’re saying: Halloween is all about food, namely candy. But here is what that overlooks: Halloween candy is terrible. Smarties? Those little Three Musketeers bars?
Just strictly from a public health perspective, do America’s youth really need a holiday dedicated to, like, juvenile diabetes?
That’s right, I incorporated a public health argument.
Costumes. They are fine, I guess, but they also are a lot of pressure, and outside of a few standouts I can recall, most — including most of mine through the years — are depressingly unoriginal and slapdash. How many Miley Cyruses were walking around the streets of large American cities this past weekend?
People complain about Christmas creep, but at least Christmas actually makes you feel good. I went out in downtown Wausau to an anniversary dinner with my lovely wife, Laura Scudiere, on Oct. 12, only to find that it was the night of something called a “Zombie Pub Crawl” and a bunch of people in bad makeup and torn clothes kept wandering back and forth past the window we were sitting by. This did not foster the romantic atmosphere I was going for! And this was barely mid-October!
In closing, Halloween is terrible and we will all be better off when it is finally over on Friday.
– Robert Mentzer
Counterpoint: Quit being such a spoilsport
Friends, colleagues, fellow lovers of autumn and the yearly harvest, we need to rise up in support of Halloween against the vicious and unfounded attack on these traditions by my husband, the venerable Robert D. Mentzer.
I for one, believe in the power of transformative play for all ages. Halloween is one of the few nights in a year where we invite our friends and neighbors to deceive us. We dress to show our fandom, be sexier, be more fun than our normal selves. It encourages us to play and be merry, even when winter is ominously staring us down from the other side of the street.
Halloween is also a time in which we actually invite interaction with our neighbors. Think about the last time you actually took time to have a meaningful interaction with a neighbor. I can say that there are neighbors that we’d never spoken to, if not for Halloween. That social interaction is hard to come by.
Face it, Mentzer, Halloween is a wonderful holiday, filled with free chocolate treats and the smell of autumn. I for one think Halloween deserves to creep into more of October. In the past, Halloween night would appear out of nowhere, and you would be tasked with making a costume out of old pantyhose and toilet paper tubes. But now, you are reminded for weeks by pumpkin-flavored everything popping up in your local coffee store.
In addition, I cannot see how zombies invading a anniversary dinner can be anything but delightful to all but the most curmudgeonly of guests. If there were a Halloween version of “bah-humbug,” Robert Mentzer would surely embrace the term.
But I know a secret, dear reader. I can tell you for a fact that Mentzer will be out there with our 2-year-old son on Halloween night, dressed as a box of crayons, enthusiastically taking pictures with his phone. He’ll do it because Halloween is an American tradition at its most pure, full of flash and mirth.
– Laura Scudiere