How to have a frightfully, preciously PC Halloween
Here’s hoping you won’t become the centre of a viral shaming campaign by the end of it
Maybe it’s the fault of those pesky Americans, the pernicious influence of social media and sheer commercial greed – but with each passing year, Halloween looms ever larger in the social calendar.
Yet in our current “woke” era where #metoo and online outrage abound, Wednesday October 31 is becoming an ethical minefield. Political correctness has gone mad, as we know, and the snowflake generation will take offence at the drop of a witch’s hat.
It can be a pumpkin-spiced nightmare to navigate, but help is at hand. Here’s how to have a happy Halloween, 2018-style:
Gone are the days when fancy dress was a free-for-all. All manner of previously innocuous costumes can nowadays be deemed “problematic” and, with pics of the offending garb now able to be posted and spread online in seconds, PC posturing is vital.
Geisha garb, Disney’s Moana attire or Day of the Dead skull make-up are cultural appropriation – unless you happen to be Japanese, Polynesian or Mexican. “It’s a culture, not a costume!” screech the bed-wetting killjoys. Oops, I mean, entirely reasonable people.
Cross-dressing can be deemed “transphobic” and, aptly, makes some people very cross. By extension, vampire costumes are Transylvania-phobic and fake blood is transfusion-phobic.
Hannibal Lecter-style restraints, masks or straitjackets apparently reinforce harmful misconceptions about mental illness. Not to mention flesh-eating serial killers, who are often jolly nice chaps underneath.
Tacky, highly flammable revellers believe that putting “sexy” before anything remotely spooky – sexy black cat, sexy spider, sexy zombie – qualifies as a legitimate Halloween costume. Us more reconstructed types should resist such gratuitous raunchiness for fear of letting down the #sisterhood and playing into the hands of the #patriarchy. It’s called All Hallows’ Eve, not All Hallows’ Steve, yeah?
So, in this age of Halloween wokeness, what can you actually wear? If you want to tap into the “frightgeist”, Donald Trump (orange face, Weetbix hair, “Make America Great Again” cap), Melania Trump (pith helmet, crisp white shirt, robo-face), Stormy Daniels, Vladimir Putin, Elon Musk or Kim Jong-un are socially acceptable, although they might not exactly make you popular.
Fashion-forward feminist assassin Villanelle from Killing Eve or Offred from The Handmaid’s Tale might be more “empowering” choices.
However, Brett Kavanaugh, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and Cristiano Ronaldo should be filed under “too soon”. Killer Saudis wielding bone saws or Brexit-themed costumes risk causing drunken “debate” – save it for Halloween 2019, please.
Pumpkins for carving must be sustainably farmed and preferably hand-picked by welly-clad infants, then posted on Instagram with a string of insufferably self-satisfied hashtags.
The food-waste crisis – not to mention the frankly terrifying fact that 18,000 tonnes of pumpkin ends up in landfill post-Halloween – means a new focus on repurposing the flesh and seeds and cooking up leftovers. Yes, you will likely be throughly sick of pumpkin-flavoured everything by early November, but any nausea will be offset by your sense of eco-superiority.
Turnips were once the tricky-to-carve tradition, so if you have any languishing in your overpriced organic veg box, give them a go. A full risk assessment should be undertaken before any flickering candles are placed inside.
Single-use plastics are a heinous crime, so avoid cheap tat in favour of recyclable alternatives.
Apple-bobbing is a Health & Safety nightmare – it’s basically legalised waterboarding – although, on the upside, it can be counted towards one of your five a day.
“Penny for the Guy” obviously pays homage to gunpowder plotter Mr Fawkes but could still be seen as sexist. “Penny for the guy slash girl slash self-identifying non-binary gender-fluid individual” is a safer bet.
“Pin the wart on the witch’s nose” should be avoided in case it causes offence to those with dermatological conditions, or trivialises the persecution experienced by actual witches.
Door-knocking strangers is an activity fraught with risk, especially if they decline to dispense treats and you’re forced to prank them. To avoid legal proceedings, it’s therefore advisable to carry paperwork and ask prospective victims to “Please sign this waiver before I spook you.” Can’t be too careful.
Fun-size chocolate bars are contributing to the obesity crisis, so far better to offer up sugar-free, gluten-fee, pleasure-free treats. The little darlings’ faces might contort in disgust, but it’s a “teachable moment,” and they’ll thank you for it one day. Possibly. When they get out of therapy.
If you’re serving toffee apples, opt for gnarled heritage varieties covered in on-trend salted caramel. A Golden Delicious smeared with gloopy treacle and dipped in hundreds-and-thousands just doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s safest to ensure that all comestibles are vegan, even if it makes them taste like a Pilates instructor’s Birkenstock. Make certain that ingredients are clearly marked in case of allergies, intolerances or made-up aversions. Nothing with dairy or nuts, obviously. Or fun. God forbid. So old-fashioned.
Happy Halloween! Here’s hoping you won’t become the centre of a viral shaming campaign by the end of it.
- © The Daily Telegraph