Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween and the Decline of Democracy

There are fewer trick-or-treaters every year, and have been since I was a child and the apocryphal razor-blade-in-the-apple story began making the rounds. Jump cut to the present and our fear-based media cycle (terrorists! pedophiles! immigrants! flesh-eating bacteria! gay marriage! socialist president!) and you've got parents driving their kids to the mall for pre-wrapped candies and exhortations to consume! consume! consume! before being driven home and ushered into the house through the garage door so they don't ever have to meet the neighbors.

The result: the decline of community, the decline of democracy, a landscape where we stay in our homes, our children locked indoors, listening to the news on television telling us how scary it is out there.

Look outside. No kids in the park. No one riding bikes. No hide and seek til the streetlights come on. No pick-up wiffle-ball games.

Look in the paper. Voters driven to the polls by fear and anger. No one interested in dialogue, community. Us versus them. Throw the bastards out. Arrest the immigrants. Keep your hands off my paycheck.

See a connection?


meno said...

I do remember fondly the days of roaming far and wide on Halloween whilst my parents staying home to answer our door. Ah, freedom.

Hilary said...

Most definitely. It would appear that you might be in the wrong "neighboUrhood." ;)

ArtSparker said...

In the East Bay, there are specific neighborhoods that really do Halloween (Heh, I'm thinking of the one Michael Chabon lives in in Berkeley)...they do tend to be a pretty wealthy demographic, as opposed to the pervasive Halloween I remember.

Clowncar said...

Well, meno, I went with my kids, but as I was covered in (fake) blood and carrying a hatchet, I doubt I was doing much for their sense of security.

Hil, are you implying I should move to Canada? Cuz you guys spell everything wrong. ColoUr me American.

Art, how weird that you mention Chabon - I was thinking about him while writing this. He has a great quote discussing this very issue: "Childhood is a branch of cartography." Of course, it's easier to feel that way in a rich, well policed neighborhood (as opposed to, say, mine).

Student_Nurse_Ninja said...

I see it as the death throes of the middle class.

(Ha! Word verification is 'momystret')

Margaret said...

Going to the library, a parent asked me what my plans were. "I'll probably just pull things off the shelf at random." They told me that was dangerous.

In Horicon, Wisconsin, they have library sleep-overs. I slept in the sci-fi section.

Laurita said...

This makes me kind of happy to live where I live - a street crawling with kids, the little ones playing at the park while the parents stand around and discuss politics. Maybe that's because elections are the only excitement we get...

Trick or treating at the mall just seems wrong.

slommler said...

I live in a rural area and we never had kids crawling the streets. Sigh!
Roads are too dark and driveways too long
But I do remember being a kids and roaming for miles and miles with my pillowcase and barely able to get it home. What a haul!!! Ha!
Then when my son was out...we would follow and watch whereas my parents did not. Maybe I should have stayed home!! And scared more kids at the door.

Clowncar said...

It really is, Ninjy. The Morlock class is fattening up the middle class for a tasty late night snack.

We had zoo sleepovers for awhile, Margaret. Sadly, they wouldn't let you sleep in the cages.

Laurita, your neck of the woods sounds like fun. I promise I will NEVER take my kids to the mall for Halloween. Or any other holiday.

SueAnn, I will confess to going with my kids when they trick or treat. But at least we walk. As opposed to driving the kids around in the car. Which is almost as bad as the mall.