Everyone has their holiday. Romantics love Valentine's Day. For Christians and capitalists, nothing satisfies like Christmas. And geeks? For us, Halloween is as good as it gets. If there was an official holiday of geek culture, Halloween would definitely be it.
What's so geek-friendly about Halloween? Let's start with the costumes. We love costumes. There's a whole subsection of geekdom, known as cosplay, dedicated to the art of making and wearing costumes. We like to dress up as characters specific --Darth Vader! -- and general -- Stormtrooper! We like making up new characters for specific genres, like steampunk, and then dressing up as those. Dedicated cosplayers spend hundreds of dollars and hours to create their costumes, and Halloween is a chance to show them off to people who would never have a chance to see them in their natural habitat (i.e., a convention), or who would make fun any other time of year.
Nearly as cool, Halloween is the time of year when those same people who would never think to step foot on a convention floor indulge their own love of fancy clothing and alternate identities. The most buttoned-up woman at the office suddenly reveals herself as a Catwoman fangirl. That accountant from down the hall turns out to make a damn fine ninja. Kids literally come to your front door to show off their costumes. Everywhere you look, there are zombies, superheroes and outlandish freaks. People are dropping their inhibitions and trying on new identities, even if it's just "sexy mailman."
It's also fun to turn on the television and see classic horror (and a little sci-fi, too) in unexpected places. Whether it's spotting the references in The Simpsons's annual "Treehouse of Horror" episode or catching a random showing of Night of the Living Dead late at night, the season offers treats everywhere you turn. It's also the one time of year that non-horror fans are willing, even eager, to watch the scary stuff. That offers aficionados a chance to introduce our more squeamish friends to the joys of wanton slaughter and supernatural shenanigans. Sometimes they even enjoy it.
Then there are the events. Halloween parties are just the tip of the iceberg, as fun as they are. You also get the special horror movie film events, from one-off screenings to full-blown film festivals. Haunted houses spring up everywhere. And then there are the zombies. So, so many zombies. Zombie walks, zombie fashion shows, zombie proms... you can barely leave the house without bumping into a gathering of the walking dead somewhere. And it is glorious.
Also, free candy. You can't go wrong with free candy.
It's easy to see why we geeks love Halloween and claim it as our own. From the costumes to the monster movies to the gatherings where we all pretend to be undead, Halloween offers us an abundance of opportunity to exercise our imaginations. That's not to say that it's our holiday exclusively -- just the opposite, really. We do this shit all the time. We don't need an excuse to dress up, to watch movies about things that did not and could not happen, or to get together en masse to pretend to be something we're not. Halloween is the chance for everyone, young or old, weird or mundane to join in, without guilt or judgment.
We love that.
With rare exception, geeks love to share the things they love. We tirelessly evangelize our favorite obscure films, esoteric pastimes and unpopular books to anyone who will listen, but most of the year, most people won't listen. For the 31 days of October, not only do we get to immerse ourselves in some of our favorite things, we get to share some of those things with people who normally wouldn't give them a second thought, and that feels really, really good.
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That's why we love Halloween. I hope yours is a special one.