For Halloween this year, I’m going as the monster that ruins all of your favorite things. Let’s get started, shall we?
1. Hocus Pocus
I know, I know, you love Hocus Pocus! Bette Midler is in it, and there’s that zombie with his mouth sewn shut and a cat named Thackery that turns into a hot teen — it’s a Halloween classic! But… is it though?
In psychology, there’s a phenomenon called the the “mere-exposure effect” that shows people have an affinity for things just because they’re familiar with them. Hocus Pocus has been shoved down our throats for years; it’s played endlessly on ABC Family (now Freeform) and the Disney Channel all fall until you can’t get a whiff of pumpkin spice without associating it with the Sanderson Sisters. The movie is FINE. It’s FUN, even. But don’t confuse “something that we’re all familiar with” with “something great.”
2. “Clever” Halloween costumes
No one wants to spend half the night guessing at whatever half-baked mediocre pun you came up with, Derek. Here’s an easy rule of thumb: don’t wear something that requires a name tag.
3. King-sized candy bars
I know the phrase “king-sized” is exciting, but in actuality, a king-sized candy bar is just about equivalent to like, four fun-sized bars. Just eat the four fun-sized bars. There are so many goddamn fun-sized bars on Halloween and they’re great because you get a variety of different candies. Your infantile “bigger is always better” mentality is why capitalism is corrupting us all.
You know the ones I’m talking about. Lumpy pumpkins that look like syphilitic penises. They are disgusting. They should be ashamed of themselves and they should not be on our tables while we eat.
5. The Nightmare Before Christmas
No, no, no, not all of Nightmare Before Christmas — it’s a genius movie and almost everything about it is perfect. Almost. Anyone who touts Jack and Sally as a relationship ideal is sorely wrong (I’m looking at you, Blink-182 and Hot Topic teens). But The Nightmare Before Christmas is not a love story — it’s a story about self-actualization and coming to terms with reconciling one’s dreams and limitations, and shoehorning a romantic coupling at the end of the movie feels arbitrary and unearned.
Sally spends the entire film yearning for a man who ignores her, far more focused on himself and his own selfish project. It’s a real Eponine-from-Les-Mis vibe. She does everything she can to help him — sewing his costumes, warning him of his hubris — and he does nothing for her. She is a captive trying to escape from servitude and Jack gives zero s—s. And then Jack’s Christmas plan literally blows up in his face and the fact that he thinks he can just turn to her and decide “For it is plain as anyone can see / we’re simply meant to be” as if this whole thing had been about her is entitled garbage. Pshhh. Sally deserves better.
6. Making fun of pumpkin spice
Ooooh, we get it. You don’t ascribe to “popular” opinions because you can see through capitalist bulls—. Hey, you know what’s a popular opinion? Performatively hating pumpkin spice. Pumpkin spice is everywhere because it’s delicious and the name “pumpkin spice” is easier to market than “cinnamon and nutmeg and cloves.” Those are good spices! They smell and taste like fall. You’re not impressing anyone, Freshman Philosophy Seminar.
7. Apple picking
Hey, is grocery shopping not enough of a hassle for you? How about now you have to coordinate the schedules of six of your friends, drive for an hour, and then walk around doing manual labor that you pay extra for? Pass.
8. Scented candles
Or, as I like to call them, instant headaches. But if you ever wanted your bedroom to smell like a Michael’s craft store at full capacity with people who used Febreeze on their clothes instead of deodorant, then by all means.
9. Baked apples
They creep me out. They’re like eating the wrinkled flesh of the elderly. Apples should be crisp and slightly chilled, no exceptions. Not even apple pie. Yeah, apple pie also sucks. We shouldn’t all have to pretend to like apple pie like it’s the National Anthem. And baked apples are just apple pie but worse because there’s no delicious crust.
10. The Sixth Sense
This movie is not scary; it’s just gross. Even putting aside the fact that a movie that depends on a twist is not a worthwhile film at all (twists in films should be MacGuffins, revealing something deeper and more interesting than the twist itself), The Sixth Sense doesn’t offer anything interesting or profound about the concept of death, or about its characters. What is a single personality flaw or challenge that a character has to overcome? Lying to an audience by willfully misguiding them and then feeling clever if we don’t see the arbitrary thing you worked backwards from isn’t a victory.