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TAG | Halloween

Oct/17

28

Halloween, Elsa and the Index Simulacrorum Prohibitorum

Cross-posted on the Corner.

Kyle has already discussed the controversy over Halloween Moana here, concluding as follows:

The Left used to insist on seeing people as individuals, not as members of groups. The goal used to be that kids of different races would play together oblivious to one another’s superficial differences. This was commendable, and many a race barrier has fallen. Now the Left is determined to put those barriers back up, to teach kids to obsess over race. It is adamant that pigmentation has to be of overriding concern to you, and if it isn’t to your children, your children must be indoctrinated to divide people based on skin color, to calculate varying levels of “sensitivity” and “privilege” based on melanin. It’s not only ludicrous, it’s alarming. Don’t let this diseased mindset take hold. Go ahead and dress your kid as Moana this Halloween.

Quite.

I’m not sure that Sachi Feris (who “identifies as White”) blogging over at Raising Race Conscious Children would agree. Her views on Moana are predictable enough, but (as Charlie has noted) it turns out that there’s another character to be careful about, Elsa from Frozen:

Since [Feris’ daughter’s] 2017 Halloween choice was, in fact, Elsa, I returned to this costume choice and shared…

Shared

There is something ghastly about the soft, pious condescension of that verb, which well…

But back to the sharing:

“There is one thing I don’t like about the character of Elsa. I feel like because Elsa is a White princess, and we see so many White princesses, her character sends the message that you have to be a certain way to be “beautiful” or to be a “princess”…that you have to have White skin, long, blonde hair, and blue eyes. And I don’t like that message. You are White, like Elsa—if you dressed up as a character like Moana, who has brown skin, you would never change your skin color. But I’m not sure I like the idea of you changing your hair color to dress up as Elsa—because I think Elsa’s character could also be a short, brown-haired character like you.”

“No,” my daughter refuted. “I want you to make be a long, blonde braid like Elsa’s.”

“We can do that,” I agreed. “When we are dressing up as a made-up character who is White, it is OK to change how your hair looks, but I just want you to know that if you wanted to, you could dress up as Elsa and not change your hair.”

My guess is that a five-year-old might well have worked that out for herself. Nevertheless Feris’ daughter has clearly understood that the best way to dress up to try to look like someone else is, well, to dress up to look like that someone else.

Later on, we read that Ms. Feris, like a devout person scrabbling through holy books to find out what is or is not ‘permitted’, is still bothered by Moana and has thus turned to her smartphone to see what might be, as the enforcers now say, ‘okay’.

She tells shares with her daughter that:

“I’m trying to find more information about if a (White) person can dress up as another person’s culture in a way that honors the culture, without making fun of the culture or using the culture in a way that uses stereotypes or makes people who identify with that culture feel uncomfortable…” Through some additional back and forth, I elaborated on the idea of stereotypes (click here for a conversation about stereotypes from when my daughter was much younger) and the concept of cultural appropriation, though without using this phrase.

The word killjoy doesn’t begin to do justice to this miserable little anecdote.

But, wait, there’s more.

In a follow-up post Ms. Feris and Lori Riddick (who “identifies as Black/Bi-racial/Multi-racial”), entitled “Halloween as an Opportunity to Dismantle White Supremacy: Three Things We Believe This Halloween”, advise their congregation concerned parents what can be done:

  1. White parents who want to dismantle White supremacy have a special burden to check their entitlement on Halloween—and make sure that their children’s costume choices are not reinforcing a culture of racism.

Again, the distinctly ‘religious’ aspects of this are unmistakable, ranging from the assumption of guilt (“entitlement” ), to the distaste for the existing state of the culture (“a culture of racism”) and the reminder that neither they nor their children must fall, even accidentally, into the sin that is always out there (“make sure…not reinforcing”).

2. Dressing up as a White person (from the dominant culture of power and privilege) is not cultural appropriation—but consider the development of children’s healthy racial identities on Halloween.

We learn that Ms. Feris’ conversation sharing “with her daughter also aimed to push back against an image of beauty that values Whiteness in addition to a specific body type and hair color/style. Many children, both White children and people of color, do not fit into this image of beauty.” No opportunity for a sermon should ever be wasted. And on that topic:

3. Halloween is an opportunity to have a conversation with your child about race, power, and privilege

More trick than treat, I reckon.

Note to any surviving citizens of the Roman Empire: No disrespect is intended by the clumsy and doubtless inaccurate appropriation of your language contained in the title of this post.

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Nov/14

3

Halloweaster

Halloween Peeps, Nov 14 (AS)Halloween is even more splendidly syncretic than I thought: Yes, Halloween Peeps made an appearance at a supermarket near me.

Adweek explains:

More sweet. Less scary. That’s the promotional campaign, not the ingredient list.

The perennial Easter favorite Peeps continue to try to become a year-round candy with these “peepified” illustrations for Halloween. The simple, colorful drawings are part of an ongoing campaign dubbed “Every Day Is a Holiday,” launched earlier this year to introduce Peeps Minis, diminutive flavored versions of the original chicks. (They’re less than half the size of the flagship product, and come in bags, not the traditional cellophane-front flat boxes).

The airy sugar dumplings, made by confectioner Just Born, haul in an estimated 70 percent of their business at Easter and only a fraction on other holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s Day. There are ghost and pumpkin Peeps on shelves now, but they’ve never moved as briskly as springtime’s puffy chicks and bunnies.

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Nov/14

1

The Culture of ‘Offense’ (Halloween Edition)

UES, NYC, Oct 2009 (AS)National Catholic Reporter:

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS Every October, many look forward to Halloween — the trick-or-treating, the parties and especially the costumes.

Every Halloween, however, many also mock religious figures with their costume choices. Costumes for badly behaved nuns, rabbis, Muslims, priests, Catholic schoolgirls, Sikhs and Buddhist monks make their way onto store shelves every year.

Some might view these costumes as harmless fun but Halloween costumes, like television programming and other media, form minds, said Fr. Gregory Labus, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Edinburg and director of the Office of Liturgy and Worship for the Brownsville diocese.

“When it comes to television and other media, people will say, ‘I don’t believe any of that stuff,’ but if you’re watching that stuff regularly, it’s forming you. It is, little by little, making an impression on you and forming your thoughts,” he told The Valley Catholic, diocesan newspaper of Brownsville.

“I would say it’s a similar kind of case with costumes, especially with very young minds. Pregnant nuns or whatever, it’s disrespectful and it’s forming an impression that is not good. … Personally, I would say that Christian families should avoid that sort of thing,” Labus added.

That is up to Christian families to decide for themselves. But as a Roman Catholic priest, Father Labus is certainly well-qualified to give advice in that respect, whatever one might think about his sense of humor.

But then there is this:

“It’s a sign of disregard, of disrespect for people of faith,” said Sr. Nancy Boushey of the Benedictine Monastery of the Good Shepherd in Rio Grande City, whose members wear a habit. “It takes an authentic call from God and makes a mockery of it, no matter what the faith is, whether it’s Jewish or Catholic or any other faith.”

“Authentic”. Hmmm.

Whatever the reasons for wearing such costumes, Boushey said it is “hurtful.”

“It saddens me because it is sacred clothing for me and for others who wear it — the priests and sisters,” she said. “The clothing is sacred to us and to use it for laughs, it’s very saddening to my heart. To me, it’s a sign of disrespect of God’s call to us.”

Boushey’s failure to accept “disrespectful” disagreement—and, yes, disagreement can be that— with her notions of the sacred without taking personal offense shows a certain narrowness of mind. More than that, in a society increasingly prepared to enforce a ‘right’ not to be offended, her comments represent another small step in the direction of a muted public square.

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Oct/14

31

Happy Halloween!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHalloween is, with Christmas, one of the more enjoyable of our syncretic, splendidly commercialized festivals, so in the spirit of the evening here is a link to The Signal-Man by Charles Dickens, the greatest chronicler of Christmas who does, I think, pretty well for Halloween too.

It opens thus:

“Halloa! Below there!”

When he heard a voice thus calling to him, he was standing at the door of his box, with a flag in his hand, furled round its short pole. One would have thought, considering the nature of the ground, that he could not have doubted from what quarter the voice came; but instead of looking up to where I stood on the top of the steep cutting nearly over his head, he turned himself about, and looked down the Line. There was something remarkable in his manner of doing so, though I could not have said for my life what. But I know it was remarkable enough to attract my notice, even though his figure was foreshortened and shadowed, down in the deep trench, and mine was high above him, so steeped in the glow of an angry sunset, that I had shaded my eyes with my hand before I saw him at all.

“Halloa! Below!”

Read on here (you will need to scroll down for a while).

Have a happy–and uneasy–Halloween.

Nov/13

2

Halloween Fun

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYes, yes, it’s November 2, but still…

From First Things

[In] evangelical congregations…—at the end of October, at least—a “Christ against culture” spirit takes over for a week or so. As a counter-celebration, churches often put on “harvest festivals.” Kids may dress up in Pilgrim-like or patriotic garb—but none of the typical Halloween fare.

I wonder about this each year. And I typically get asked as Halloween approaches what I think about the way the day gets celebrated. Evangelical kids know all about the Halloween imagery and practices, and they often pressure their parents to let them wear a costume to a public school party, or to go trick-or-treating. Parents are often relieved by the opportunity to redirect their children’s attention to a “harvest festival” kind of event. But they still feel the Halloween pressure, and are not always sure what to say, beyond “It’s a pagan thing, and we are Christians.”

…The Christians who are worried about Halloween and all it stands for are struggling with different aspects of evil. They are wondering how to raise their children in a culture that often seems opposed to what they stand for. They are nervous about what reading Harry Potter and vampire stories might be doing to the souls of their offspring….

Good lord.

And as to what Halloween stands for. Not so much really, just humanity’s ancient fascination with ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night, and, of course, the opportunities presented for a party in a world where, just for an hour or two, people can pretend that the ordinary rules don’t apply.

And then from ‘Invisible Woman’ in the Guardian:

I am not privy to the thought processes of supermodels (thank God), and I cannot for the life of me think what was running through Heidi Klum’s head when she came up with the idea that dressing as an old woman was an amusing concept for Halloween. Heidi is well-known for going the full nine yards on All Hallows’ Eve. She’s been Clive Barker’s Hellraiser (or Gunther von Hagens’ flayed body, depending on your cultural references), the Hindu goddess Kali (managing to offend an entire religion) and now she’s given us what currently terrifies the western world beyond all reason – age.

Yes, there are cultural differences at play here – dressing up for Halloween in the US does not necessarily mean witches, vampires and Frankenstein – but it’s hard to see this stunt as anything other than ill-judged and offensive. There is a fine line here and Klum has crossed it….

To repeat myself, good lord.

Oct/10

31

Bell, Diversity Handbook and Candle

Cross-posted over at the Corner:

It’s been well over 350 years since the death of the unlikable Matthew Hopkins but should Britain ever get back into the business of hiring a Witchfinder-General (check out the 1968 movie of the same name, incidentally, for some beautifully filmed, if thoroughly nasty, Hallowe’en viewing), he will, if this Sunday Telegraph story is anything to go by, be considerably more sensitive than this psychotic predecessor:

It is Hallowe’en and the witching hour is drawing nearer, but don’t be alarmed – [British] police officers are on the case, having been issued with official guidance on how to deal with witches. The advice is contained in a 300-page “diversity handbook” which gives officers a range of “dos and don’ts” when approaching followers of a range of religions and other beliefs, from atheism to Zoroastrianism. Instructions include avoid touching a witch’s “Book of Shadows”, which contains their spells, or handling their ceremonial dagger. The online handbook also advises officers not to jump to conclusions if they encounter a situation where a blindfolded, naked person is tied by their hands – they could merely have stumbled upon a pagan ritual, where such activities are normal practice.

And yes, there’s more. Please read the whole thing – and do have a very happy Hallowe’en, or, for that matter, Samhain.

Lower East Side, NYC, Oct 30 2010 (photo: AS)

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