The quintessential problem of our day: halloween costumes aren’t scary enough

I know I’m a day late to this, but here’s something that’s been annoyed me.

Do me a favor. Go to this link, a Google image search for “vintage halloween costumes.”

vintage 2.png


Now, the black-and-white coloring may be a factor, and there’s probably some selection bias. But those are some scary costumes.

Now simply search for “halloween costumes popular 2019.”



This confused me when I was young: “aren’t Halloween costumes … supposed to be scary?”

A few differences between then and now quickly pop out at you. First, the vintage costumes appear locally made, if not homemade. Whereas, most costumes you see today were clearly purchased from a store.

The second big difference is that the vintage costumes are not trying to emulate anything too specific; they are each unique. Modern costumes are based on corporate IP.

These topics relate to my article, “criticisms of industrialization,” in which I talk about what creates vs denigrates culture.

So why aren’t costumes as scary today? The simple answer is that people don’t want to be scary, for social reasons. Nobody wants to be extreme, or stay true to a tradition. Everyone wants to participate but not commit.

In other words, everything today is much more watered down. This is obviously a continuation of my popular post about playgrounds. In the words of that article, we want to sanitize and baby-proof the world.

If it isn’t obvious I’m not a big fan of overprotecting children. We underestimate what they can “handle.” The problem is, because we don’t naturally incorporate young kids into our goings-on, we only engage with them through media and surroundings that are “kid-themed” (as if kids can only enjoy one type of theme). The “kid-themed” stuff has an idiomatic taste too it: not too scary, not too dangerous, not too this or that, and etc.

My broader point is that this stuff actually matters. I’m sure Halloween was a more fun, genuine, and community-building tradition when people were expected to personally make their costumes and play along with the intense theme. Now it’s an excuse to advertise the hottest film franchise through clothing sales.