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Oct 18 2005

Stupid Holiday

Ballandchain

In a nation where one stupid holiday follows another, Halloween is the stupidest. For one thing, it is around this time of year that my bodyguard Stingray starts sniffing around for pies made out of pumpkins. I cannot endorse pumpkin pie, either conceptually or practically. Furthermore, I blame the patriarchy for the proliferation, each October, of unsightly plastic spider-shaped, or witch-shaped, or tombstone-shaped, yard ornaments. Also, there are all those gangs of boys in unattractive outfits who maraud through the neighborhood demanding candy from you for no reason at all. Also, orange is a hostile color.

Reader Valerie blames the patriarchy for the Halloween costume pictured above. It is a cutesy couples costume, which is in itself a serious crime against all that is just and merciful, but it also contains allusory inaccuracies. Note that the outfit aspires to suggest a hilarious epithet that henpecked husbands use to describe their despicably ugly and demanding wives, but it more accurately resembles a flail (sometimes misidentified as a mace), which was a weapon popular among late medieval European males for bashing each other’s heads in, and was hardly ever wrapped around a stripper in stiletto heels.

The best Halloween costume I ever saw was when my old chum Peckman taped a few yellow leaves to his sweater. He was The Fall Guy.

50 comments

  1. curiousgirl

    Imagine attending a social event in that get up. Lordy what a bad idea!

  2. MsKate

    I’m suspicious of any costume that isn’t made or at least constructed at home. The whole mess has been divorced from it’s original “lets scare away the bad spirits now that it is fall and everybody gets jumpy walking through the woods” and become yet another opportunity for tasteless, sexist consumerism.

    The pictured get up is neither funny, sexy, scary, or original. It is stupid.

    I made a “faceless” costume for my son out of remnants. It looked like a scarlet academic hood with a black net panel inside, and when he put it on it seemed like nobody was in there! When he went for the candy run the Tibetan family on the corner had to bring him in to see the elders, take pictures, etc. They have the hood now, and probably use it for the intended purpose: to scare away demons.

    New England woods get wicked spooky this time of year. Maybe if the puritans had made some scary costumes, they wouldn’t have felt the need to have a witch hunt.

  3. norbizness

    For a minute, I thought he was MegaMan and she was a Koopa. I blame the Nintendoarchy.

  4. Sylvanite

    Yeah, my first thought when viewing this picture was “Why is that couple dressed as a flail?” Then I got it. Then I felt irritated.

    Not everyone is imaginative or crafty enough to make their own costumes (I’m not – I suck at that). The best homemade costume I’ve ever seen was the trilobite costume my grad school roommate made herself one year. It was awesome!

  5. Jodie

    I made all my kids’ costumes (I can make costumes and stuffed toys, but I suck at all other sewing). The one that got the most attention, though, I didn’t sew; my 10 year old son wore a suit, carried a brief case, and powdered his face white…and was a “Dead Lawyer”. Everyone gave him double candy that year…

  6. Sara

    Wow. That really is just about the stupidest costume I’ve ever seen. And I, who enjoy Halloween more than any grown woman should, have seen a lot of costumes. I’ve seen clichés; who hasn’t? I’ve seen crazy, overwrought, and vulgar. I’ve been to Halloween in the Castro and seen fantastic creativity from all over the world, as well as a couple of half-assed, drunk-off-their-asses, very butch drag queens throwing falsies from a balcony to the passing throng below while lip-synching some Broadway atrocity which could barely be heard above the din. And I’ve seen lame, as in no costume at all, as in, “Who are you supposed to be?” “Myself.” But even that can be taken as almost clever if you’re wasted enough.

    This is just stupid.

  7. jo(e)

    Go to an elementary school in this area on Halloween and watch the parade. The rigid gender roles and stereotypes will make you crazy. I think it’s all got worse since I was a kid, not better. Little girls dressed up as sex objects? Ugh. Makes me want to scream.

  8. Ron Sullivan

    Some people have fun with Hallowe’en and some people… it’s hard to say whether they bring out their inner stupid or someone imposes marketing stupid from outside. There’s probably some ineffable point at which the two converge and they become one with the universe of stupid.

    There, I’ve dressed my comment in half a pair of ellipses just for you, Twisty. Next time I’ll try to come up with some ellipsesgloss.

  9. a nut

    The best I have seen is a guy with small cereal boxes taped to him with a knife in his back (or in his hand, I can’t remember which). He was a “cereal killer.”

    There was another about corporate something or other but I can’t remember now.

    And that costume sucks. I like Halloween for Peanut because he finds it so exciting, but other than that, I love when it’s finally over. Oh, they put out lots of great candy for Halloween though, that hardly exists any other time.

  10. Chris Clarke

    Worst Halloween party ever: at a house filled with art students, with the theme described as “come as your favorite artist.”

    Many, many bandaged ears in evidence.

    I had been painting houses all week, so I just wore my work clothes and a name-tag that said

    “HI, MY NAME IS:
    j. pollack”

  11. Orange

    Could you please retract your unkind remark about orange? Really, I try not to be hostile. Sure, I slip sometimes, but it’s hardly a fair description.

  12. Tapetum

    The only Halloween party I’ve ever really enjoyed was the local annual Audabon Society dinner, and that’s primarily because I love word puzzles.

    Winner several years back carried a cornucopia with two green spray-painted pinecones. It took forever to figure out that he was a peregrin falcon (pair of green fall cones).

  13. Carol

    I’m with Jo(e). At my kid’s Halloween parade two years ago, a five-year-old girl was dressed in crotch-skimming tight pants, a cropped sleeveless top, and hooker makeup; the top read “L’il Rock Star.” It was a shame that I hurled all over those glue sticks. One of the things I love about my oldest is his complete indifference to rampant toy tie-ins. He thinks Star Wars is stupid and has no patience for Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings. This year for Halloween he wants to be a giant orange and purple fish.

  14. Steph

    My 6 year old is dressing as a zombie cheerleader this year. She wanted the pompoms I wanted to emphasize the creepiness of cheerleading. So we’re both happy.

  15. Kyra

    I haven’t been really “in costume” on Halloween for about four years now. It’s the one day I can wear my pentacle and a big cape and carry a wand around and my mother *doesn’t* freak out.

    I like Halloween because society has established it as a day for make-believe, enough that people’s prejudices go temporarily out the window. It’s the day a gay man can wear a skirt without getting venom from everybody; it’s the day I can be a Witch without my mother actually knowing I’m a Witch, and there’s this cool scene in an episode of Disney’s Gargoyles where the gargoyles all go to a Halloween party and it’s the only time in the series that everyone accepts them.

    What I don’t like, though, are cheap crappy store-bought costumes. *Can* we all say “pathetic?” I’m a perfectionist, and buying a plastic Klingon mask at the store is an exercise in frustration over how fake it looks. Being a Klingon for Halloween, to me, means being made up so perfectly that I could have passed for real on the show (not to mention that if five people buy Klingon masks you have five copies of the same Klingon, instead of five different Klingons. Although I’d prefer to go as a Cardassian, anyway (all Trekkies with more imagination than Spock ears go as Klingons), but I don’t (yet) have the metalwork expertese to make the armor.

  16. Christine

    Hey MSKATE,

    New England, “wicked” spooky, and witch hunts, you must be from MA. Hello Neighbor!! I’m in NH now but grew up a 1/2 hour from Salem.

    I hate Halloween!!! At least I don’t have to talk my daughter out of sex-bot costumes. At 9 she knows it’s too freaking cold here on Halloween to go out exposed. It’s so nice when they make their own decisions on proper clothing, even if it’s weather based. Now if I can keep her that way through her teens….

  17. Bella

    Msn.com had a ‘Top Ten Costumes for Women’ link the other day. #1? A confederate flag shirt and black shorts. Yea!

    I wrote them an angry note.

  18. Dim Undercellar

    I’m starting to hate Halloween too. For women, it’s basically a question of “What sort of slut do I want to be this year? I can be a fairy slut, or a cheerleader slut, or a pirate slut, or a devil slut, or a belly-dancing slut, or an elf slut, or a nun slut, or a nurse slut, or a goth slut, or a goth-elf-fairy-cheerleader-pirate-devil-belly-dancing-nurse-nun slut?”

    Your non-slut choices are angel and princess.

    Now pick.

  19. SarahM

    Dim: A friend of mine here in [hippie college town] expressed a similar frustration about the common costumes we see here. “You can be a sexy nurse, or a sexy cheerleader, or…the sexy Pope!” Damn her, now I’m trying to figure out how to be the sexy Pope for Halloween.

  20. bitchphd

    I have always disliked halloween, especially the grownup halloween thing (it’s okay for kids). Sadly, PK has decided that halloween is his FAVORITE holiday, for birthday-related reasons, and as a result I can clearly see that we will end up being those godawful people who actually *decorate* the house for halloween and celebrate it like it was a real holiday.

    So please, when you go past my house and roll your eyes at the godawful halloween crap in the window, know that I am only doing it out of motherly love.

    B/c of course, anything we do “for the children” is forgivable. Right?

    Heh.

  21. Becker

    BPhD: My birthday is October 30, so I can totally relate to PK’s affection for Halloween. And I’ll warn you: it will probably never go away.

  22. Philosophizer

    I love Halloween. There, I said it. A day when adults get to dress up once more.

    That said, I’m going to my company’s party dressed as Hugh Hefner. I’m a small woman. I tried to get my boyfriend to be my Bunny, but he insists on dressing as Antonin Scalia – says the point of the holiday is to scare people.

  23. Kristen from MA

    hi,

    i felt i had to comment as i just moved to the halloween capital of the universe, Salem, MA. i’ve always felt halloween was fun. before it was for the candy, and now because, as someone who feels like a misfit, it’s one day where it’s ok to be offbeat or just a little strange (as KYRA mentioned above).

    but the whole argument of girls being pushed into gender sterotyped costumes – it’s simply a reflection of the culture at large. can’t blame the holiday itself.

  24. MsKate

    Hey Philosophizer,

    My hubbie went as the Unibomber one year. Not the reality of Ted Kaszxhkshgatyxjki, mind you, but the FBI “character sketch”, sort of sweatshirt glam with ski glasses.

    His mom says “but that’s not FUNNY”. No, Joan of Arc, it is SCARY.

  25. MsKate

    Oh yeah, and Dim Undercellar, you don’t have to be a slut if you just look at stuff in your closet long enough and sacrifice something to the craft paint goddesses.

    I once took an old dress that was too large and used an old map to stencil continents on it. I went as Mother Earth.

    Mother Earth ain’t no slut! (I was also six months pregnant, adding to the shape of the globe).

  26. sam

    Another Halloween lover here, because Americans are robbed of Carnival, candy is yummy, spooky stuff is fun and I have a reason to get dressed up goofy. And yeah, I was born Halloween night, but I’m pretty sure I would have liked candy, oogie boogies and costume parties anyway. Mass produced cheap plastic crap remains as much a tool of the patriarchy as ever, but I won’t let that stop my game. No, no, they can’t take Halloween away from me.

    This year’s costume is half finished and I’m looking forward to going to work Monday the 31st. It’s always a compliment when people can guess your costume without you having to tell them. When I walked in last year a co-worker pointed at me and exclaimed, “You’re asparagus!”, and she was right.

  27. Ron O

    Add me to the chorus of folks who love Halloween but hate cheap, store-bought costumes. In addition to all the reasons others love it, I also love that it is a pagan holiday. And candy. I love candy too.

    My favorite scary/disgusting costume I made was of a dead John Dillenger. I took an old pinstripe suit to the range and shot it full of holes. Added lots of fake blood. Then I took a sausage and made it look like a mangled, cut-off penis with a knife, some paint and a small rubber band & put in a mason jar with the label “John Dillenger’s Penis”. Freaked the hell out of people.

    (FYI someone cut off his penis after he got shot up.)

    Oh, I was single then and several people told me I’d never meet a girl that night. Ha! they were wrong. I got picked up by a girl with a sick sense of humor too. I was her BF for a year and we’re still friends.

  28. Kyra

    Speaking of Halloween-inspired reasons to blame the Patriarchy, when I was thirteen or so I went to a party dressed as Princess Leia from Star Wars, and got disgusted as hell with the fact that almost none of the girls had any clue who I was supposed to be, but all the guys knew. (Well, that, and I was disgusted with how my hair wasn’t long enough to do the hairstyle properly, but nevermind.)

    “Msn.com had a ‘Top Ten Costumes for Women’ link the other day. #1? A confederate flag shirt and black shorts.” Since when is that a costume?

    There’s always the possibility of putting two incompatable costumes together, for example a vampire/angel, George Bush in a Hugh Hefner smoking jacket (or George Bush in Bunny ears), or Darth Vader with the Pope’s hat over the helmet.

  29. MsKate

    I got one for Twisty,

    Spend Halloween at a nude beach in Pirate Costume! Give that new Uniboob a sporty look by wearing a black thong like an eyepatch in a strategic location!

    Arrrgghh!

    Oh, and I must blame the patriarchy for the proliferation of “witch crash” lawn ornamentation in my neighborhood.

  30. BuxomBroad

    I got one for Twisty,

    Spend Halloween at a nude beach in Pirate Costume! Give that new Uniboob a sporty look by wearing a black thong like an eyepatch in a strategic location!

    Arrrgghh!

    Oh, and I must blame the patriarchy for the proliferation of “witch crash” lawn ornamentation in my neighborhood.

  31. DM

    I love Halloween but I hate the costumes you can buy. They are all crap. Especially when you’re looking for plus sizes. Because believe me, I do not look good in a sexy nurse costume or slutty angel.

    I’m doing a repeat of last year’s costume this year. Black shirt with approximately 35 glow in the dark stars velcro’d to it, black pants, gold glitter hairspray (not a good idea to spray on your face but I’ll probably do it again) and my date, a stuffed frog as the frog prince. It’s the one day of the year that I can tell everyone I’m the Queen of the Universe and not have them want to have me committed.

  32. CafeSiren

    When I was in high school, one of my friends came dressed all in black and white (b/w face paint too), with a couple dozen old housekeys saftey-pinned to her shirt.

    She was a piano.

  33. Christopher

    Pumpkin Pie rules.

    Aside from that, I’m rather fond of halloween, because it’s such an odd holiday; It doesn’t really celebrate anything, it’s more of a collective improvisation on a common theme.

    That’s something you don’t get to participate in very often unless you do that live-action role-playing, and it’s the only time you can do it with everybody you meet and not be considered a nerd.

    Other societies have had lots of holidays that fall into this kind of “nationwide theatre” genre, but we only really get the one.

  34. Julia

    I like halloween.

    But I refuse to wear the “sexy-whatever” costumes.

    I like it because I can get my boyfriend to wear a dress and heels. He wears the sexy costume (hilarious on a short, extremely hairy, man).

  35. Ledasmom

    I think I talked my son into being a beaver this year for Halloween (he’s missing all the teeth around his two enormous front adult teeth, y’see, and, well, I’d had too much coffee). No way in hell can I make a beaver costume. If only the kid’s memory wasn’t so damn good.

  36. Twisty

    Christopher, you are just wrong about pumpkin pie. Blech.

  37. Nancy

    Jesus fucking Christ on a pogostick. That is the stupidest reason to hate Halloween I’ve ever heard – because for women, your “only choices” are slutty costumes.

    The helplessness and sheer lack of imagination of such people boggles the mind. Nobody is forcing you to dress slutty for Halloween. There are millions of costume options, from the minimalist-conceptual to the elaborate that don’t involve looking slutty.

    I know there are millions of people out there who are helpless and lack imagination, but I foolishly thought such people didn’t spend time reading a generally exquisite blog like “I Blame the Patriarchy.” What was I thinking?

    And not only is a well-done pumpkin pie a joy, but even better is pumpkin souffle – and don’t knock it until you’ve tried it Whiney McWhinestein.

  38. kate.d.

    what i enjoy most about halloween are the bad-pun costumes (Fall Guy, Cereal Killer, etc). i enjoy the fact that my boyfriend hates bad-pun costumes even more. two years ago, we went to a halloween party and i pinned a bunch of kitchen sponges to my t-shirt. i was Self-Absorbed.

    and count my ballot for pumpkin-pie-is-gross.

  39. piny

    Good to see you back in the blamin’ corner, Twisty.

    Pumpkin pie is tasty, but it is to sweet-potato pie as carob is to real chocolate.

    >>but it more accurately resembles a flail (sometimes misidentified as a mace), which was a weapon popular among late medieval European males for bashing each other’s heads in>>

    …So what you’re saying is, we’re witnessing the emergence of an even more offensive misogynist colloquialism?

    I’ve seen wedding invitations with ball-and-chain clip art, but I wasn’t aware the term was still in heavy rotation.

  40. bantamblonde

    My favorite bad-pun costume was a woman who was wearing a white slip over her clothing, on which she had written phrases like “Oedipal Complex” and “Superego”. She was a Freudian Slip.

  41. Joolya

    Also love Halloween. It’s the day before my birthday, candy and funny outfits feature prominantly (even wigs! yay!), and in no way does it involve spending quality time with my extended family.
    Best ever costume was a birthday cake. My mom cut out a huge circle of carboard with a hole in the center for my head. She draped a sheet over it and around the bottom of the sheet stapled a cardboard ring. I put it over my shoulders and it hung down in a perfect cylinder. We decorated the top of it, I wore a white hat, and I would go up to people’s doors, kneel down with my head in the neck hole, and then pop out. It was so cool, although not so good for dancing.

  42. Chris Clarke

    There’s nothing wrong with pumpkin pie that can’t be addressed by adding Jack Daniels and chipotle peppers to the pie filling.

  43. sam

    Joolya, I also went as a birthday cake one year, but the idea of popping out of your cake costume like that kicks my non-popping cake costume’s ass.

    Amen to not having to spend time with extended family on Halloween.

  44. Steve

    When I was 10, I was heavily into building model planes. That Halloween, I went door-to-door with a Spitfire in one hand and a Messerschmitt in the other. When someone answered the door and asked what I was, I waved my hands furiously, made “rat-tat-tat-tat” noises and said, “The Battle of Britain.”
    It was the artistic pinnacle of my life.

  45. Sarah Ennals

    Tell me more about the trilobite costume! My spouse is crazy about trilobites.

    Incidentally I plan to go as a scantily-clad but heavily-armed Anime cyborg policewoman; mainly so I can wear a purple wig.

  46. TeenageCatgirl

    I wanted to dress as Robert Smith a few years ago, but I couldn’t find the black and white baseball boots.
    I thought of one a while ago because a girl I knew vaguely had a birthday party with a ‘strippers’ theme (I jest not).
    Had I been invited, I would have worn a long tube and moved my arms around a lot, I would have been a pole dancer.

  47. Sylvanite

    If I remember correctly, my grad school roommate made her trilobite costume over several weeks, or perhaps days that felt like weeks, out of cardboard. It was at least somewhat articulated, at least there was jointing between the cephalon, thorax, and pygidium. I think she used rope or twine to hold the jointed parts together. It’s a real shame I don’t have a photo of the ensemble – it was really neat. It was somewhat three-dimensional as well – not just flat cardboard pieces strapped to her back.

  48. maurinsky

    I loooove Halloween. It’s my second favorite holiday after Thanksgiving. What can I say, I like my holidays to be food oriented.

    When I was a senior in high school, I dressed as God for Halloween – I had a nametag that said “Hello my name is God”, (a costume which Joss Whedon used for an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer some 12 years after I wore it.)

    And several years ago, I went to a Halloween party at a theater, and one of the guests made a Samurai costume out of a couple of those Rubbermaid plastic garbage cans. It was amazing.

    Neither of my daughters have wanted to dress like sex objects. My older one likes scary costumes, and my younger one always wants to be some kind of animal.

  49. syfr

    The idiot exboyfriend and I once went as a Princess and a Dragon. He looked so cute in in little white dress with a beard and hairy chest!

  50. Klem

    This seems to be a modern day version of Cave man/woman theme. Uggh.

    The top ten for men include Jack-the-Ripper and none other than Prince Charming. I can only blame the mind numbing patriarchy for those offenses.

    The last time I dressed I chose to alter the sexy black widow type get-up I found. I covered my face with pale death-mask paint, drew a black web from the corner of my eye(complete with spider dangling down) and added blood from the corner of my black lips. Rimmed my eyes red as well.

    My poor nephew, I scared the beejeebers out of him and he almost didn’t want me to take him to his kindergarden party. Looking back , I consider this to be his entry into anti-patriarchal expectaions.

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