Monday, October 26, 2009

Should Teens Trick or Treat?

If the only scary stories you hear around Halloween these days have to do with poison in the candy, razors in the apples, trick-or-treat kidnappers, and all those young toilet paper vandals, then perhaps you'd have as good a reason as any to feel as disgusted as this "crabby old fart." Don Mills spends a lot of time venting about his frustrations with young people, but you got to admit he does more to empower them than most of the liberal, coddling, sweet-talkers out there. His recent rant: teenage trick or treaters. And here's what you can expect if you're over 10 and under 20 and happen by his house this year:

Be advised that any damned teenager who shows up at my door this Halloween won’t be getting anything but a copy of the want ads, directions to the local military recruitment centre and a cane to the side of the head.

Nobody could accuse him of infantilizing young people, that's for sure, and it's more than welcome this day in age, but he also provokes an interesting question. When is it no longer socially acceptable for an individual to trick or treat? Are we officially declaring Halloween a kids-only holiday? In the old world, the trick or treaters were not the 3 year olds dressed as Garfield like you see today, they were primarily young men impersonating the dead by wearing various costumes as a means to placate them when out souling on the Hallowmas. But regardless of it's origins, parents have taken over the practice of trick or treating (along with everything else) and shifted the emphasis to the younger set.

But we can't only blame parents for deviating from the origins of the practice. Toilet-papering houses and kicking in jack-o-lanterns isn't exactly what those old-time young men were doing when they were out souling in the Scottish alleyways. These days though, society has forced the young people out from all the festivities all together. The kids prance around and get candy. Parents drag the kids around the neighborhoods, and even the older people at least get to participate to the extent that they're the ones handing out all those confections. What is there for the young people to be doing while everyone else is enjoying the holiday? Now all this doesn't excuse the oft over-reported "young and unruly" behavior, but it certainly gives an explanation for it.

It seems to me that going around trick or treating is the least annoying thing young people could be out doing on October 31st. It may feel awkward serving candy to these individuals, but you also have to consider that half the time you're not even giving candy out to the kids anyways (unless you think the 3-year-old is the mastermind behind why they're standing on your doorstep in the pumpkin outfit). The fact of the matter is, if the parent is the one holding the bag and doing the chant, it doesn't matter what the kid is dressed like. The question becomes, if it really all comes down to age, why is it more acceptable to be handing out candy to 30 and 40 year olds than it is to be handing it out to the pock-marked 14 year olds?

And if we're also going to consider the fact that it's acceptable because the 40 year old is doing it on behalf of their incapable or shy toddler, what makes anyone think the 14 year old isn't also doing the same for a younger brother or sister?

So come on now, young and old alike, the last thing we should have to fear on Halloween is young people.

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