I don’t care for Halloween
and like it less each year. Not everyone agrees; Time magazine
estimated that spending on the “holiday” would total $6.9 billion in
2003, second only to Christmas. Yet the more commercial it gets the
tackier it becomes, and, I’ll say it, the more evil.
Take the example of Brands On
Sale, an Internet retailer based near Los Angeles. I have no idea
how Brands On Sale makes its merchandising decisions but in my
mind’s eye I can picture a group of marketing geeks huddled in a
smoke-filled room, looking ahead to Halloween and wrangling over how
to wring out a few extra bucks.
“Alright, think!” barks a
greasy character. “Witches and ghosts have been done to death.
Axes through the head, dangling eyeballs, and fake blood and are all
good fun, but we need something progressive, something edgy. We
“Four-year-old hookers!” a
voice shouts. And thus, as I imagine it, were “Child Pimp &
Ho Costumes” conceived.
Yes, you too can deck your
child out as a pimp or “ho,” or whore in the vulgar slang of the
day. Age is no obstacle; Brands On Sale has Halloween costumes for
your little pimp or ho as young as age 4.
The pimp costumes come in
four styles: regular child pimp, child pimp daddy, child zebra pimp
suit, and child cheetah pimp suit. Most come in several colors,
with hats that cost extra for some pimps and come with the suit for
others. Hos have only one choice, which is apparently pretty
popular; the website notes “Due to overwhelming demand, our child ho
costume is currently sold out.” Have no fear; they promise to
deliver your ho getup by Halloween.
The cynic in me wonders if
there’s only one ho option because of the number of teen and
pre-teen girls who can simply duck into their closets and come out
looking the part, but the costumes are for toddlers too.
When my children, now in
their late teens, were younger, we did let then participate in
Halloween. This was primarily through chaperoned age-appropriate
parties, though we also took them trick-or-treating to neighbors we
knew and family. The costumes were generally of the animal or
princess variety, and although more objectionable outfits were
available I don’t recall being asked for them. By the time I had
come to seriously dislike Halloween their dress-up days were largely
over. Still, if either of them one day presents my grandchild
dressed as a pimp or ho, someone’s coming out of my will and it
won’t be the grandchild, who would probably need whatever meager sum
I leave behind for therapy.
I have no idea what might be
running through the skull of a parent who would buy these
abominations, except maybe white noise. Society has unquestionably
become coarser; I have written before that our culture hates
children, or at least childhood. If dressing 4-year-olds like pimps
and hookers doesn’t prove it I don’t know what will, but it is a
parent’s job to say no to this kind of sludge. I know from
experience how difficult it is to fight peer pressure in a child’s
life, but those who aren’t up to it probably should not reproduce.
Besides, precious few
4-year-olds are going to the Brands On Sale website, whipping out a
credit card, and buying these costumes. I’d wager they’re not
asking for them either. If you could be a fly on the wall at a
Brands On Sale marketing meeting, you’d probably find that the main
target for “Child Pimp & Ho Costumes” is misguided parents
with a twisted idea of what is cute.