Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween: In which My Ghosts Beat your Colours.

So the best day of the year has just passed again, and once again it has come to my attention (via a friend here) that some stuffed-shirt boores are trying to stamp it out again. "Of course!" I think. "Why wouldn't they?"  It comes as no surprise to me that any day which encourages creativity in children would encounter the wrath of the think-factory machinery. This little rant is an elaboration of what I wrote there:

Halloween is the best day for childhood. It's the one occasion that not just encourages but demands creativity and imagination. "Go out there," it says "and PRETEND. IMAGINE. Be something else for a few hours. Anything you want. It's YOUR time."

For a few short hours, they're allowed to play. The deep dark night is no longer forbidden, the stranger's doorstep is no longer off limits. It's a couple hours of sanctified greed, where they can acquire large piles of loot, regardless of their socio-economic circumstances, which belongs exclusively to them. Meanwhile, neighbours who might never look at each other during the year are suddenly pounding on each other's doors, demanding hospitality. They say hello, they laugh and smile, they share.

Of course someone wants to wipe it all out!

I think it was HL Menken who once defined Puritanism as "a sneaking suspicion that somebody somewhere might be happy". Indeed, I don't think there's an earthly pleasure that isn't forbidden by someone, and no celebration anywhere that doesn't have its detractors.

But "Black and Orange" day? There is something particularly banal about that. What, no costume at all? No character, no creature, no flight of fancy at all? In fact, it's even less inventive than a regular school day, as the kids choices are even further restricted than usual. "On this day of celebration, your options are limited to two sets of colours." I suppose it's meant to reflect the season colours of pumpkins, but alas, reminds me much more of prison jumpsuits.  Uniformity, similarity, tedium. How does the one day set aside to celebrate creativity become even more regulated? It's a chance to homogonize the kids, reduce them all to obedient little widgets in the industrial machine - well behaved, high achieving little mannequins for the School Board Website.

Maybe some squeamish parents faint at the sight of fake blood. And maybe others are afraid of ghosts. Maybe some dippy New Age hippy types don't like witches in pointy hats, maybe some religio-fundy types are afraid of demons, and still others can't stand anything that predates their religion (because history started with them of course). Many now are afraid of their own shadows, and certainly won't permit their kids to go out and play in them.

Most of all though, I think it's the bureaucrat which fears the misfit, and can't stand that there's a day in which that creepy kid in the corner just might thrive.