Brace yourself: I’m here to admit there is something I dislike about Halloween. I know, right? Whooaaa…
I started noticing a few years ago. My hobby is obsessively searching for Halloween themed recipes—not just dessert type things either, but actual main dishes. I kept running across some stuff that, in my humble opinion, was NOT really about Halloween so much as it was about being disgusting. The pinnacle is the dessert/cake/pie thing that looks like a litter box with turds in it. How is this scary?
I guess I’m just funny (not ha ha), or hopelessly conventional here. My Halloween is about witches, pumpkins, ghosts, vampires, etc. Heck, I’m even OK with zombies and some of the 80’s slasher icons—although that is kind of pushing it in my book.
Today I ran across a Halloween decoration idea featuring a headless body posed by a garage door, with blood spattered to indicate the door decapitated him. Scary? Yes, but not really in a Halloween-y way. This “decoration”—and I use that term loosely—isn’t about the old timey Halloween stuff. It’s just…show-off-y.
Ah, and that is the crux of it.
I’ve read lots of books about Halloween, its origins and progress to current rituals. I understand part of the of the appeal is the sort of cutting loose, the opportunity to “get crazy”. I know it was often embraced by those not fully embraced in society, yada yada. I’m glad that it’s not just for kids—honestly! I dressed up as a witch long into my adulthood. And I get that maybe something like the garage-door-decapitation represents a new fear, whereas witches and vampires were representations of real fears of times long past.
But there is just an element of taking things too far, of a one-upmanship, of just being performative. I don’t think this can be blamed solely on the need to create Instagram moments, thought that doesn’t help.
Hold up, this is a blog about breast cancer (culture), right?
Yes. And my larger point is my frustration with the performative, exhibitionist, one-upmanship aspects of breast cancer “celebrations”.
You see, it isn’t really just Halloween that has been negatively impacted by this…this…relentless need to turn everything into a big noisy, tasteless piece of performance non-art. I’m sure I’ve compared the endless pink parades to bachelorette parties before on this blog (no idea which post). As I drove by a local race last weekend I saw men and women drenched in Pink t-shirts and tutus. The obligatory women with bras worn OVER their t-shirts were scattered throughout the crowds. All I could think was: What drives them to do that? What does it even mean? What message are they trying to broadcast by putting a pink bra on their body, over the clothes? What am I supposed to understand or learn? That they have breasts? That breasts get cancer in them sometimes? How does that help? Don’t you dare say “awareness”!
I was in a hurry, on my way to a last minute meeting, so I didn’t have time to stop, pull over, demand answers. Or slap them. Whichever.
Even bachelorette parties themselves are a newer social phenomenon, compared to bachelor parties, which are kind of new as well—when thinking in terms of the evolution of marriage in the past thousands of years of human civilization. I’m not an anthropologist, so it’s not like I’m equipped to analyze these things. I cannot help but ponder, however. What the hell is driving us to turn everything into an over-the-top celebration to the point of ridiculousness?
Honestly I’m uncomfortable with this blog post I’m writing here. I have always whole-heartedly embraced full-on celebration of holidays. Heck yeah, make the day after the SuperBowl a holiday—why not! I love the way holidays and seasons are the rhythm and flow of the year. Autumn? Gimme the PSL. Winter? I pull out my fuzzy boots and scarves. Spring? Well, that’s not my fave, so gimme allergy meds. Summer? Where’s my beach blankie?
And I feel silly revealing how, ARGH, conservative, I’m being here. Am I possibly a fuddy duddy? I’d like to think I’m just such a fan of the Universal monsters that I’m saddened to see Halloween move away from those classics to…ugh, imitation cat poo. But maybe I’m just stuck in the past in my old fart yells at cloud way. I will continue to grapple with this.
But I don’t think I will grapple with, or apologize for, my views on the party atmosphere surrounding these Pink parties. I don’t care if people need to feel “hope” or celebrate survivors. The October races have become annual traditions and I’ll admit they have evolved. (I’m always complaining breast cancer culture has not progressed and evolved.) But the evolution has been this obnoxious competition of outdoing one another in levels of being outrageous. But to what end? Everyone is so busy showing off that the reason for the season seems to have gotten lost. No one seems to remember it isn’t about “saving ta tas”, it’s about the 116 who die each day.
Am I ending this post on a “downer”? You bet. It was always my nature to piss on the Pink Parades. While the revelers might whine that my negative attitude kills their fun vibe—well, I wish they’d consider why all these races began, and how far we have NOT come. In crassness, tackiness, obnoxiousness, BCAM has just gone too far. In terms of the reduction of death and sickness, sadly we cannot say the same.
8 thoughts on “Too Far”
Love your writing style.
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Thank you very much!!
This is so good. It seems like there is a tendency for a lot of folks to over do, no matter what we’re talking about. The whole notion that more/bigger equals better is alive and well. “Supersizing” everything is not necessarily a good thing whether you’re talking about fast food, Halloween, or movies with way too many special effects. The latter probably makes ME sound like a fuddy duddy!
The old cliche “less is more” suits me better. Usually anyway. Having said all this, I gotta say, I’ve noticed a whole lot less pink shenanigans this year in my neck of the woods anyway. Of course, we’re only half way through October.
Thank you for this excellent post.
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Oh thank you–I was a bit unsure revealing my fuddy duddiness. Like I’m saying: Lower your inhibitions, no! not like that! or something.
I’ve noticed less pink crap too-tho I might have some blinders on–so focused on other things. Sigh. Here’s to a fake litter-pan-with-turds-free Halloween!
I’m hating on pink. My Her2+ stage 3, dx 2009, I’m fortunate to say has not metastasized. However, I continue to have lifelong physical problems appear due to treatments. I’m talking serious shit! Yesterday ( I’m 63 and am just finishing my 10 dutiful years of tamoxifen this month) I came home with panties full of blood. Gyno tomorrow to figure out wtf it is. Tamoxifen can cause endometrial cancer. So how in the hell can I celebrate my survivorship with one health issue after another related to the treatment that killed the cancer? Depressed in Pinktober ~ the “so called” Joywarrior
“… the performative, exhibitionist…aspects of breast cancer…” this sums up everything I hate about most ‘awareness’ campaigns, and not just BCAM, or even breast cancer. It represents nothing I recognise about me, my life, or those connected with it.
Great post, loved it xx
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Yeah, the “virtue signaling” is a problem. Now, it can be a bit of thing too when we get into all the photos of flat chests/post mastectomy, or tattoo pics–I’ve done that here on this blog myself. Performative? Maybe. I’m still ambivalent about it, but keep my pics on here for now.