Those of you of a certain age may remember a dreadful little American comedy show called Home Improvement. It was one of those ‘family’ comedies without any laughs at all, at any point, ever. Nothing. Not a sausage.
These sorts of shows try and appeal to everyone and end up appealing to no one, or no one with a sense of humour anyway. It was obvious, reactionary, Lowest Common Denominator dross with the bill of fayre being standard issue jokes about ‘the wife’ and Tim Allen’s preoccupation with cars. Obviously the show was enormously popular in the States and ran for years.
In its defence though, the last series was just as funny as the first one.
One of its few notable features, apart from the awful acting, was the fact that every Halloween they would do an all singing, all-dancing but naturally laugh-free episode. How I remember this I don’t know, but suffice it to say I do. It’s right there in the Mambo memory bank, like the track listing of Dreamtime.
Now the reason for this wistful little trip down memory lane was to highlight the connection between rubbish and Halloween. In fact Halloween is just rubbish, and its growing popularity bothers me a little bit.
Of course there is a lot of history behind Halloween, and that much of that history represents an interesting study in cultural and religious traditions and the evolution and cross-pollination thereof.
But it isn’t like that now. It’s just people dressing up in stupid costumes and kids knocking on people’s doors demanding sweets, a real bugbear of mine.
Every year it seems to get bigger and bigger. Dress up like a dickhead. Isn’t wearing a scary costume an absolute riot? Yeah. Get in. What sauce. Let’s have a party to celebrate. Let’s spend some money.
Because that’s the essence of it isn’t it really. That’s why the shops make a big deal of it. It gives them an opportunity to sell tat for money that normally they wouldn’t get away with. In Home Bargains on Saturday I had in front of in the queue a rather embittered father with a basket full of cheap Halloween costumes that his kids looked semi-enthusiastic about. At no other time of the year would he, or the kids, be contemplating such folly. But they have to join in. They couldn’t possibly just refuse to go along with something they were palpably uninterested in, could they……
And whilst Halloween has slowly taken centre stage this time of year, Guy Fawkes’ night has seen its significance steadily decrease, even though it is infinitely more important in British history and infinitely more interesting politically. But its importance and air of seriousness is presumably why its role has diminished in these lowest common denominator times.
I can understand why the shops are all forcing Halloween merchandise on us. That’s what they do, however irritating it might be.
But what I struggle to get my head around is why the general public have just swallowed it hook line and sinker as if it’s always been like this.
Does no one ever pause and wonder why they are handing over their money, again?