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Five ethically ghoulish ways to 'evil-up' your Halloween

By Pieta Woolley

Halloween, back in the day, turned everything on its head. The dead walked among the living; costumes invoked death or winter; men and women switched genders for a night; and a last light burned before the coming darkness. Also, there were food, fires and the 'flipping the bird' to convention, as well as early trick-or-treaters revelling in what seemed like a raucously good time.

But 21st century celebrants are caught between appeasing the forces of safety and inoffensiveness (no urban bonfires nor professional fireworks; toothbrushes instead of candy), and buying into a global capitalist Halloween culture that is so grim that no scythe-carrying hooded figure from the dark ages could out-scare the environmental and social demons that swirl around it. 

So, want to be truly evil this Halloween? It’s not hard, really. Just relax into mainstream culture.

1. Dress up as your favourite “exotic” ethnic group — and remember to make it sexy.
Pocahontas. A geisha. Osama Bin Laden. Four years ago, students at Ohio University started “We’re a culture, not a costume,” an effort to fight racist Halloween garb. But why stop at racism when you can also reveal your inner misogynist by sexing-up empowered women, such as Harry Potter's Hermione Granger and celebrated aviator Amelia Earhart?  

2. Buy a bunch of conventional candy — from Walmart
Canadians will spend at last $322 million on Halloween candy this year. Make sure that much of that goes to mega candy retailers like Nestle as possible (This year, Halloween falls during Nestle-Free Week — a boycott against predatory infant formula sales). Whatever you purchase, definitely don’t go out of your way to find the many ethical alternatives available.

3. Decorate your lawn with media-addled adults in mind

Why stick to styrofoam gravestones and severed hands from the local dollar store when you can create a bloody ISIS-inspired diorama that attracts the police?

4. Distribute killer treats
Nut allergies, gluten intolerances, diabetes — kids today, eh? You’ll just be caving to the pressure of their annoying helicopter parents if you set a teal pumpkin outside your home, indicating that you have non-food treats on hand to accommodate kids with food challenges.

5. Stay home and be a Halloween Grinch
Willfully ignore the many events across Canada reigniting the deeper cultural meaning that once belonged to Halloween. Don’t you dare attend A Night for All Souls at Vancouver’s Mountainview Cemetery; the organ and silent movie performance at Calgary’s Knox United Church — part of the city’s week-long organ festival; Night of the Dread in Toronto; or, hold off til December and hit St. John’s Mummers Festival, a uniquely Newfoundlander-Inuit set of role-flipping traditions that may be more Halloweeny than Halloween itself. 

Author's photo
Pieta Woolley is a writer in Powell River, B.C.
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