'Aaaar, shiver me timbers, young Jim 'Arkins
So, it seems that Hallowe’en, like Christmas for years now, and virtually every other celebration throughout the year, is subject to big commercial exploitation. Oh, I know it has been for years, but the Jack Sparrow crap was the one that caught my eye.
My rant revolves around the fact that it wasn’t always thus. There was a time when virtually all costumes were home-fabricated by kids and sometimes their moms. In that, the ubiquitous pirate was a favorite choice.
As a kid I was in love with the old Disney version of Treasure Island – back when Disney actually cared about turning out quality and relatively innocent fare for the tiny tots. Of course, that was back when old Walt was still with us. Anyway, TI was wonderful, I thought, especially magnificent old alcoholic hambone actor, Robert Newton, who defined (“AAAAAARRRR!”) what a pirate should look and sound like.
Of course, Long John Silver had but one leg – he was pedaly challenged – and I begged my mother to let me strap one leg up behind me one year so I would look like the real goods. She wisely exhorted me to refrain, knowing I’d only be good for about a half-block’s trick or treating that way. She also put the kibosh on the idea of an eye-patch, or obvious reasons. Unless your kid is genuinely visually impaired, you really don’t want to send him out in traffic on a wet and foggy night minus 50 percent of his seeing power.
As it stood, being a pirate remained a favorite of mine, despite the parental restrictions. It was an easy costume. Draw a stitched scar on the face with eyebrow pencil, put a kerchief around the head, don a striped t-shirt like Mr. Smee in Peter Pan, and maybe even fabricate a hook, like Smee’s boss wore. I always wanted a tricorn hat to complete the ensemble, but such chapeaux were noted for their paucity around our house. Buckle shoes were likewise out. However, a passable sword could be fabricated out of workshop scraps, and an old cap gun would make do as a pistol, even though it looked more Roy Rogers than something that would have been fired by a swashbuckler of the 1700s.
And, of course, Mom would end up ruining the overall effect by her admonition to “wear a jacket. It’s cold and wet out.”
“Moooooooooom, pirates don’t wear jackets.”
“This pirate does. Now put one on. You’ll look fine.”
There were, of course, many other hand-fabricated costumes in that innocent, yet more creative time. Cowboys and princesses and Davy Crockett (in the earliest Disney exploitive venture) and crooks with bandannas or facemasks and vampires and witches and so on and so on.
Rather revealing (much too revealing, in my puritanical esteem) harem style costumes seemed voguish among ‘tweeny’ girls last year. Obviously they knew little about the realities of a harem girl – or maybe they did, which is more disconcerting.
“So, is that a costume, or just the same junior slut gear I see you wearing to middle school each morning?” I was tempted to ask.
So, either welcome the trick-or-treaters or turn off the porch light and interior lights and sit in the dark pretending you’ve gone out of town. Whatever makes for a Happy Hallowe’en for you.
Labels: Halloween exploitation