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Today we asked a pretty simple question about Halloween.
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What’s A Halloween Story? – Op-Ed Piece
Halloween is a special time of the year where kids eat candy and dress up as whatever superhero or villain that is popular at the time. If you are a lucky kid, and your parents spend some money on your costume, then you actually feel like the superhero you are dressed as. You have the Spiderman outfit with the abs and the actual toy web-slinger, so you feel like the Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman. If you are like most kids, then your parents spent only the minimum amount on your costume that is supposed to resemble Spiderman. You got stuck with the cheapest version of the poor outfit and are left feeling more like a fan trying to look like your hero than the hero themselves. That is why there is candy on Halloween so that the poor kids don’t realize they don’t have as cool a costume as the rich kids. Everyone likes candy. And we all agree that Tootsie Rolls are pointless, but we eat them anyway because we can only carry so many Snickers and Twix bars. There is no worse feeling than emptying your candy bag and having most of your candy be of the Tootsie treat.
I heard on the radio about homes using Google Nest to see if the kids are going to take candy left out. Apparently, parents are warning their kids about this spying method their neighbors have on their candy snatching. Yeah, I can tell you right now that I was that kid who took as much as I could when the candy bowl was left out. I didn’t take everything; I am not a monster, I was a cowboy at the time, but I don’t get why kids are so afraid of taking more than one piece of candy. I’d look at the kids I was with and say, “So what is the person going to do? They aren’t home. It’s not like they care.” And I’d take about three or four hand fulls of good candy. You know, like Reese’s or Milky Way. This is why parents can ruin Halloween for kids. They will tell the kids to only take one, and at that point, the kids have to only take one because their parents told them to. I get it if the kids are still young, but once I was older, I was still a kid, though my friends and I went on our own. No kid wants their parents there when they trick or treat. Sorry parents, but the kids don’t want you there. And if you aren’t home, then don’t go telling someone what not to take. How about being home next time? Or don’t leave the candy out if you are so worried about kids taking it all? Once you’re not home, your authority, Google Nest or not, over the amount of candy the kids take is over. You should probably get a life if you are really worried about kids in your neighborhood taking all the candy from the bowl you left out.
On the night where Skeleton Sam is dancing, adults say, screw the trick or treating, since, I am not sure if you knew this, as an adult, you can eat candy whenever you want. (I know, right?) These adults will dress up as whatever is the most popular show on Netflix, like Squid Game because they freaking feel like it. Women have used this time to make anything sexy or slutty, depending on the outfit, I guess, and guys use the time to dress as a character from Star Wars. Halloween is a holiday that if you didn’t know what was going on, you’d be really confused by the whole thing. Heck, I am a part of the holiday, and I still am lost on some parts.
Halloween was originally about dressing up to fool the spirits that came back from the grave. People thought we’d be clever, so we put on a mask or a blanket and walked around town. We must think spirits are pretty stupid if they can’t tell the difference between a real ghoul and some kid in a ghoul mask. But we all ditched that idea because we all think wearing the jumpsuit from Squid Game is better. We are basically all like Peter Griffin right now, when he dressed up as a clown in the army. We are outthinking the spirits by dressing up as something they’d never expect, not a spirit at all.
On this blog, Halloween is special because it is one of our favorite themes to write about. Sure we love Christmas and Santa, and we have a soft spot for St. Patrick, but the night of spooky ghosts and skeletons is our favorite to write about. There seems to be a great culture around the holiday that is growing every year. There is excitement around Halloween. Is it because people like candy so much? Is it because women dress like whores on that day? Are we all into haunted houses that much? I bet it is because we all like singing Thriller and the Ghostbuster theme song, and Halloween is the one time of the year; we can overplay those damn songs. We like candy, whores, and haunted houses too.
Now that the time of frights is here, and the midnight hour is close at hand, we will all be bombarded with shows and movies and books that are called “Halloween related” The streaming services make a section so that you can binge-watch every episode that is of the orange and black date. Book stores set aside a table of old and new books that can get you in the mood for the night. Music services offer playlists of songs that remind us of werewolves and skeletons. Yes, Thriller and the Ghostbusters theme song are on the list. No one questions this process because what is there to really question? If you like the show, you watch it, and if you don’t, then you ignore it. The Halloween label that we give to the art is irrelevant in our appreciation of it.
As I strolled through Netflix with all of its Halloween movies and shows, I noticed the range of the shows, in the Halloween section, some that I wouldn’t relate to the October night. Once I was done scrolling, I couldn’t help but ask myself; What the hell is a Halloween story anyway?
Who the hell gets to decide this? Cause it seems to me that Halloween is on a never-ending conquest to take over our pop culture, and it is succeeding. Why? Because we all like candy, whores, and haunted houses.
From my understanding, this is the best definition I could come up with for what is a Halloween story.
A Halloween story is one that features a character that acts in ways that are associated with the holiday.
Yeah, I know it’s vague, and you can find words on Urban Dictionary with a more cohesive definition, but the more I kept looking at shows, the more I got confused. We all know what a Halloween story is, but the more I looked into it, the more I thought that we give some stories, the Halloween name, and then that story, regardless of the original intention, becomes associated with the holiday.
At this rate, any story containing any feature that we consider related to the holiday is a Halloween story.
What is a Halloween story?
That is a Halloween story.
How do we know that?
Because it’s about Halloween! Stop asking stupid questions!
The major part of a Halloween story that allows for this unusual expansion, and is the type of expansion that the Romans would be proud of, is that the story doesn’t have to really do with the holiday as compared to Christmas, which at some point during the story has to mention the December holiday. How many Halloween stories actually mention that they are on Halloween? Or even Halloween itself? Not many. They have themes that we relate to the holiday, so we then put them on the day. This gives Halloween an unusual advantage over other holidays since anything at any time of the year can be labeled Halloween as long as it has a minor feature.
Let’s go through some stories that may or may not be Halloween-related.
Little Shop of Horrors – This is certainly weird enough to be for Halloween. A carnivorous plant eats people. That is basically the story. But since when does only having a monster in the story make it a Halloween story? This is a great example of a story that is popular, but its popularity has nothing to do with Halloween. The story doesn’t mention the holiday. The trademark colors of the holiday aren’t there. The story is weird and out there, so we put it into the Halloween label. But should it be really?
Ghostbusters - This one is a great example of a story becoming a Halloween story too. The guys deal with ghosts, and since we link ghosts to Halloween, Ghostbusters becomes a Halloween story. Even though its popularity is not based on any involvement with the holiday. At least with this story, the link is more understandable since ghosts are normally associated with Halloween. Since when does man-eating plant relate to Halloween?
The question that is not asked is what do we do with the shows or books that meet the criteria above but are not considered Halloween. In other words, they act like a Halloween story, they look like one, but none of us consider them one.
Case and point: Hotel California by The Eagles.
By all accounts, Hotel California should be played as much on the candy-filled holiday as any other Halloween song, yet none of us look at it in that light. The story is of a man who finds himself in what can only be called a haunted house. When the guy tries to leave, he learns that he is stuck there forever. The plot of the story comes across as one that Stephen King played with for a while for one of his books. The song’s exclusion from the holiday makes me wonder if we see certain stories as a part of the holiday because we want them to be a part of it. Perhaps we all love Hotel California so much that we are not comfortable with it being played on that day?
How about Homer’s Odyssey? The guy kills as many monsters as some Halloween stories, and yet none of us would ever dare to say that the first great adventure story was actually a Halloween story in disguise. Do we not associate monsters with Halloween? Is that not enough? Examined in another lens, you could view the adventure in The Odyssey as a Halloween story. He kills a cyclops. He deals with sea monsters, and he lives with goddesses who can easily be seen as witches. If you are going to talk seriously about Ghostbusters on Halloween, why is The Odyssey much different with its limited link to the holiday. It’s the song, isn’t it?
Take another song that is also widely played during the month of Halloween and one that I analyzed recently; Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Thriller has no more of a Halloween feel than Hotel California, but no one is ever playing The Eagles song at the end of October. Our perception is more vital in our celebration of the holiday than we would like to admit.
Also, on a side note, if you didn’t know anything about Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the album, you would think it was a Halloween album. Like all of the songs on it were related to ghosts and ghouls, but it’s not. It’s strange that an album that has the title Thriller would not be a concept album related to some sort of fear. Instead, the album is the greatest pop album ever, with only the title track being about supernatural forces. That’s strange.
There is another problem with our labeling of Halloween stories. What if the author of the story didn’t intend for it to be for the holiday? Can’t we have a story with a monster that scares people without it being for the October holiday? Does this make every story with pumpkins or black cats automatically a Halloween story? That seems to be giving the holiday an unfair say on our storytelling. Anything with fear, or murder, or death, or zombies, or cats, or monsters, or paranoia, or skeletons, or potions, or witches is a Halloween story. What isn’t a Halloween story, then, if the criteria is so open?
Does the story have Dracula who wants to suck your blood? It’s for Halloween. Does the story have ghosts that are trying to spook you? Halloween. Does the story have monsters from a lake? Halloween. Does it have Frankenstein and his bolts, fear of the human condition, or dark, disturbing themes? It’s Halloween. It’s all Halloween.
Halloween has already taken over the candy part of our culture. It has the sexy part too. Just how long is it before all we see in our stories are Halloween adaptions. We make Halloween all year round by making stories with the features of the holiday all the time. I can tell you right now that I am not sure how I feel about the real possibility that one of my stories could be put on that day because it scared people or I used a monster in it.
I wrote a Halloween story, and I didn’t even mean to.
With where the world is going, every writer is a Halloween writer; they just don’t know it yet.
We hope you liked this piece about Halloween.
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About The Blogger
Greg Luti is an editor and blogger on pensandwords.com. His favorite writers are Robert Frost and Charles Bukowski. He enjoys reading up on history, watching comedies, and playing video games, when he is not writing down a few notes for his next piece. He started this blog out of his love for literature and hopes that the reader shares that same passion.
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