Your task is to dig a little bit on one of these topics that came up in our brief conversation following Kling’s “Waiting for Mr. Mershing” and to answer this question: how is Halloween rhetorical? Post your findings on your blog today in class (or later if you don’t finish).

Costumes
Here’s the infographic here about sexy costumes that shouldn’t be sexy.

  • Why do people wear sexy costumes (or “sexy” costumes…)
  • What does it suggest about people/American culture/society
  • Are there sexy costumes for men? explore this…
  • If you explore costumes in more general terms, consider why and how certain trends emerge. 
  • How come it’s okay for little kids to dress up as the devil, as a witch, as a tiny vampire. These are really dark things…how do we make them suitable for children–what’s the argument here?

Candy/Trick or Treating

  • Where does this practice come from?
  • What’s it all about?
  • Has it changed at all? 
  • Is it really all about sweet things? What about the tricks?

Haunted houses/house decor/superstitions

  • How are these things related?
  • Why do we decorate our houses on holidays?
  • Where do superstitions come from? how do they continue?

Pumpkins

  • Seriously, what’s the deal? Where does it come from?
  • While were at it, what about other symbols of Halloween, like black cats?

Fear

  • Why do we enjoy being scared?
  • Why do we watch horror/slasher movies?
  • What does this say about us (culture, society, humans)?

Zombie/Vampire obsesh

  • Where did we get the idea of zombies? the term? why?
  • Why do they eat braaaaaaaaaains? 
  • Go watch this scene from Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) 1:15:26 
  • Maybe read this
  • And this
  • Why are vampires suddenly all the rage? Read this
  • Where did our vampire obsession stem? what started it all? Watch this
  • How has the vampire image changed or remained the same?  

The Gross-out Factor

  • Halloween parties featuring gross food items, like “severed fingers” and “brains” and “eye balls” and “baby guts” and deep-fried spiders (which some people somewhere actually eat).
  • General indulgence in all things “icky”: spiders, snakes, bats — things we normally object to, we celebrate. Why? Why do we do this?

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