Factory-made costumes are taking over Halloween spirit
Saturday night, the streets were filled with ghouls, ghosts and other garish creatures of the more unnerving persuasion. Classics enjoyed by many generations made their appearance as well, monsters like Frankenstein (Yes I know technically it’s Frankenstein’s monster), werewolves and all forms of vampire. And of course, the slutty nurse, cats that if they were cats would have no fur and professions clearly depicted with less clothing than usual. All these and more haunted the streets this weekend, revealing without a care by the light of the October moon, their visages magical and mysterious in the moonlight, titillating and enticing.
Much like werewolves, though, the November sun revealed a different story. Pale with eyes redder than the fake blood now smeared from the exertion of the night, heaps of misshapen polyester caricatures trudged home like zombies to chase the sleep they so desired after a weekend’s worth of merrymaking. As I sipped my coffee from my porch and observed these creatures of the night slinking back to their burrows in the day, a disturbing trend caught my eye.
Many of the costumes passing by were spot-on, fantastic and colorful, but I had seen them before. Yes, lining the walls of Ragstock or some other store on State Street, perhaps featured on the Amazon Market. I saw the hastily stitched shells made en masse in countries far from here, but missing were the charmingly handcrafted costumes that I enjoy.
When I was younger, we did buy costumes, but only for a couple years. After that, we would store all our miscellaneous stuff in my house in our “big blue box” where, every year, we would mix and match to make our Halloween costume. I was Harry Potter for four years straight, each time with a different form of wand or cape, but it’s what worked and I loved it. Now, being a lazy broke student, I just paint my face or use whatever cardboard is lying around the house to fix up something before I go out into the evening. I will admit, I have not been as on top of my costume selection as I should have, but noticing this trend I am going to change.
More and more over the past couple Halloweens I have been noticing the trend of shifting away from the ramshackle and often silly homemade renditions of costumes. Less of the PBR knights or the costumes that look like someone just fell into a junk drawer and walked outside like that (My personal favorite way to costume myself). I see beautifully accurate depictions of the latest in pop culture walking around, a scene I might expect from Disney World, not a college campus.
As I walked down the street, my inside-out shirt and face paint stuck out dramatically among shiny plastic accents and well-manicured polyester suits. I made eye contact with other whatever-was-in-the-closet-ers and we shared a nod, the last bastion of creativity on a budget on the streets, shuffling along trying to avoid the smell of fresh elastic and newly minted rubber.
Whatever happened to Halloween as an escape? Not that I am championing using dressing up and romping about as a legitimate way to deal with problems. If that is the case, see your local psychiatrist, he might have a riveting read by a guy named Freud for you. Halloween has always been, for me, a good excuse to be goofy and not give two shakes what others think because everyone is putting themselves out there tonight, or at least respectfully watching others do so. With so much glam, though, and the delivered-to-your-door phenomena, it feels like every walk down the street is a costume contest. Yeah, if I have a dope costume, I want to show it off, but spare me the looks if you don’t like it or can’t tell what it is.
Also with the rise of purchased costumes comes the death of the generic character. You could hardly sneeze on State Street this Halloween without running into a pop culture reference. Whatever happened to just being “a knight” or “a sword guy.” These were the genres of costumes I lived in and still live in to this day, and as the walls slowly close around me and the lifeless eyes of store-bought masks stare down the hole, I defy the tradition. Next year, I will once again make my own, and it probably won’t be until 10 minutes before I go out, and it will look goofy, but I like it that way. Give me my safety pins, duct tape and sharpie-face paint. You can keep your Halloween that’s “Made in China.”
Eli is a senior majoring in general engineering. Send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter