Halloween, though not as extravagant a holiday in the UK as it is in the US, is a good indicator of what has been popular during the last year. The outfits and themes that people adopt for the most diabetic of occasions are those that, in today’s culture, have been the most discussed online. Stranger Things, IT, Deadpool, the Kardashians. Given its role as an ostensible night of nightmares, Halloween is rarely actually scary. For many, the prospect of seeing unwanted family members and the insistence that the world be cheery, both which signal the Christmas period, are far worse than serial killers and the Reservoir Dogs.
This year in particular, however, like much else that has been played out over 2017, there has been a definite theme of the political, and of the sinister. As horror stories go, the year so far has spilled them out like vomit from a piñata, and as far as costumes go, there are more than a few choices. American Horror Story demonstrated the ability, which most of us suspected beforehand, to turn Trump into a cinematic horror, and the fact is that not a great deal of exaggeration is necessary to align the President with the likes of Krueger and Pennywise. Besides that, his aesthetic is so accessible to dressing up – bad wig, orange skin, big suit – that it was impossible not for adults (and unfortunate children) to imitate him this October 31st.
But it is not simply what people have dressed up as this Halloween that has hit the political nerve. Donald Trump Jr., in the strange manner that is native to the Trump family tree, chose Halloween to illuminate his opinion on socialism, and his daughter’s haul of sweets and chocolate. ‘I’m going to take half of Chloe’s candy tonight & give it to some kid who sat at home. It’s never to [sic] early to teach her about socialism.’ This, characteristically, was tweeted with an accompanying photo of Chloe, dressed up as a police officer, holding her collected treats. Considering that the sweets were handed to her for free, it is an odd time of the year to choose for such a lesson. A more suiting lecture might have been to teach Chloe of her family’s method of success: live on a horde of sweets earned by great-grandparents, then successively lose all of these sweets, owe sweets to others, and then, to cap it off, promise those with just enough chocolate to survive on, that you can return their country to a time when candy filled the coffers. But for now, Obama lost that candy, and the minorities are eating American treats, and the Puerto Ricans should be able to find their own goddamn Reese’s Pieces.
Alternatively, Donald Trump Jr. could choose not to politicise his daughter, but it runs in the family to present the children in the strangest of possible lights. Perhaps it is safer to turn back to the UK, where the celebrations may be a little more muted, but the likes of Lily Allen can drag the political to the caricature-terrible by dressing as our favourite Prime Minister.