Halloween – it’s time to get REALLY scared

by Tiggered

A critical look at the Halloween marketing machine - what should we fear this Halloween?

Halloween approaches and it's physically impossible to remain blissfully unaware of this fact. There's Halloween merchandise in all the shops (nevermind whether they sell antiques or shoelaces). There are Halloween decorations in the rest of public spaces. There are Halloween-themed advertisements in all public media and even on content writing platforms Halloween seems to be the only thing that matters these days. I'm not much of Edgar Allan Poe, so I don't feel up to the task of writing down a really good ghost story, and I'm very much disinclined to produce another sales piece glorifying benefits of polyester sexy nun costume kit (for 9.99 only), but I still wanted to have my say about all this Halloween madness. Then I've read a newspaper article claiming that on average year, Americans spend 7 billion dollars on Halloween frippery and I knew what my next article is going to be about.

All images come from this source

Scary Halloween statistics

Seven billion dollars? I mean – SEVEN BILLION DOLLARS??? Not mentioning all other nations infected by Halloween craze. Seven billion dollars spent on candy and costumes (mostly plastic, China-made and ugly as hell)??? Is it just me, or has the whole world gone bonkers?

Let me give you a few examples of what you can buy for that kind of money:

- Seven billion dollars roughly equals 7 billion kilograms of rice, which, as you probably know, is enough to give one kilo to every single inhabitant of our planet – both those who starve and those who don’t. If you focused on the ones suffering from starvation and malnutrition, the ratio would jump to almost 10 kg per head.

- Seven billion dollars roughly equals 50,000,000 Kindle readers or 14,000,000 middle-shelf Dell laptops

- Seven billion dollars can be changed into about 23,000 ’09 Maybachs, or 140,000 ’11 BMWs

And so on.

Did I hear somebody saying we have worldwide recession?

What do people buy on Halloween?

Do you spend any money on Halloween stuff? If so - what do you spend it on?

Halloween costumology

Once upon a time, I worked in a card shop. Mind you, the place wasn’t even particularly party-orientated, it carried mostly greetings cards and the likes. Unfortunately, come Halloween, the temptation of earning extra buck proved too strong to resist to my former employers. The shop was nearly flooded with all sorts of costume kits and accessories. I’ve had a good chance to have a close look at both quality of those costumes and their popularity with spending public. My conclusions were grave.

1. Most of the costumes are produced of cheapest materials possible – polyester thin as a cobweb and plastic. This fact has nothing to do whatsoever with their prices – kits with price tag of more than 100 euros were still made of polyester and plastic, only more of it. The way things are today, to have your costume properly tailored out of some decent fabric (one that would survive first washing, for example), you would have to spend thousands.

2. Most of the costumes are marked ‘one size fits all’ or manufactured in 2-3 sizes only. Now, think of all the different people you see and how different they are when it comes to body shape. There’s as many Roseanne Barrs as Angelina Jolies in this world and ‘one size fits all’ somehow doesn’t sound convincing. I would say a Terry Pratchett’s phrase instead – ‘one size fits nobody’ is more valid here.

3. Regardless of the above, in my particular shop (and I have no reason to think that all other shops are any different) the costumes sold like fresh bread rolls.

Which, overall, is probably the saddest part.

Halloween candy-terrorism

I wonder how much outrage will I cause with this paragraph, but Halloween candy-terrorism simply has to be mentioned here.

I don’t have any children as of yet, and although I couldn’t find any proper statistics on the Web, I’m quite sure that there’s many child-free people in this world. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against children, let them be, but especially if they are somebody else’s children – let them be somewhere where I am not.

I protest against Halloween candy terrorism! Once upon a time I lived in a semi-detached house with quite a few children in the neighbourhood. What options do you have on this lovely evening when you hear knocking at your door?

1. Opening the door and saying nicely that you don’t participate will get you rotten eggs on the doorstep

2. Opening the door screaming and threatening with the police could only get you collectively hated in the neighbourhood, and while I could live with that, I wouldn’t want to traumatise the kids – after all world’s consumerism is not the little buggers’ fault (yet).

3. Turning off all the street-side lights and spending the evening quietly at the back, completely ignoring all the knocks. It works all right, and it’s exactly what I used to settle for in those days, but it did leave me with a slight feeling of uneasiness (and, not slight at all, anger) – why on Earth should an adult person, in a so-called free country, result to such means?

Living in an apartment block with number-coded lock on the main gate is a good solution to candy terrorism, although I would hardly expect anyone to choose a dwelling for this particular quality only :)

Just one more Halloween warning...

Whatever the advertisers try to feed you with, most of Halloween decorations and costumes are NOT pretty, sexy, classy etc. Most of the stuff is tacky, ugly, unimaginative and looks awfully cheap. Go outside on Halloween evening to see for yourself.

I’m sorry if you believed otherwise and I’ve just shattered your dreams, but when you think about it, reality is not such a bad thing after all…

Halloween fans vs. Halloween haters

What do you think of Halloween criticism?
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Good sides of Halloween

Just if you were wondering, I believe there’s nothing wrong with Halloween itself. Ok, maybe almost nothing… But nothing I couldn’t live with, if you took all the marketing hype out of the picture.

I love the imagery of Halloween, all those ghouls and witches, dark side of the year etc. etc. A candle-lit evening with hair-raising ghost stories and pumpkin pie in the intervals? Wonderful! A good book full of hags, vampires and apparitions? Anytime!

Red-clad devil in badly fitting mini-dress and plastic horns made in China? No thank you, I’d rather pass…

One more little story. During my last visit to the local post office, I was greeted with the full set of Halloween decorations of rather tacky quality (the Big Day still being at least two weeks away). I shuddered with disgust but then, to my joy, I’ve discovered a little miracle – at the front window, between the awful, cotton wool-ish fake cobwebs and plastic mega-spiders, one small real spider happily hung. I couldn’t help smiling.

There’s still some authenticity left in the world, even if represented by a humble spider :)

Updated: 10/20/2014, Tiggered
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CountrySunshine on 12/28/2014

I think Halloween is a holiday for children, and/or those who have children. When I was a kid, I loved dressing up and roaming the neighborhood in the "big candy search". Now that I'm grown, I'm not into this holiday. I don't carve jack-o-lanterns, decorate, or give out candy. It's just another day as far as I'm concerned!

Tiggered on 10/21/2014

Exactly! Thanks for your input, Kaitlyn, and I'm happy that you liked the article

KaitlynDeMetro on 10/20/2014

Ohh, thank goodness! I thought I offended you. I get what you mean now and I agree. =P It is great that we can choose what to celebrate. I know some people who don't celebrate Halloween for religious reasons. It's wonderful to live in a time and place where you aren't forced into participating in things you don't agree with.

Tiggered on 10/20/2014

No, no, no, that's completely not how I meant it, I am so sorry if it sounded that way to you! No, I just thought that it is great to live in a world when we both can celebrate (or not:) as we want to. I should've worded it better...

KaitlynDeMetro on 10/20/2014

I'm sorry if you felt I was trying to force my views. I like your article and respect your opinion, I was just giving mine. I hope you don't feel that I was insulting your views. I try to spread my Halloween cheer to others. I didn't mean to offend you if I did.

Tiggered on 10/20/2014

I respect your opinion, although obviously I'm viewing Halloween through an entirely different lens. I don't feel particularly deprived, though. I guess the key is not to force your views on somebody else, whatever they are.

KaitlynDeMetro on 10/20/2014

On the survey, I meant to hit 'costumes' but I accidentally hit 'other stuff' so I'll explain everything I spend money on for Halloween: costume (I'm making mine this year so I'm buying a lot of different pieces), costume make up, candy to hand out, and decorations. It seems absurd but Halloween is magical, especially for kids so I want my porch to be very spooky for trick-or-treaters. Plus it's the one time of year and I can be totally eccentric and made over head to toe. I really feel like you're missing something if you hate Halloween. It's about fun and imagination. Go into it with an open heart.

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