Fordham GSAS: Grad. Life: A Very Graduate Student Halloween

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Very Graduate Student Halloween

My favorite quote about Halloween is probably very un-intellectual. Unless, of course, you are one of those people who enjoys analyzing our world through the lens of pop culture like a pseudo-anthropologist/sociologist. It’s from what I could consider a new classic: Mean Girls: "In the regular world, Halloween is when children dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.

I don’t think anything anyone says about Halloween can top this. It’s just too true to not be hysterical. I mean, they can make anything sexy now. (See some ridiculous attempts here and here...although, personally, I kind of like the Sexy Ninja Turtle and Sexy Optimus Prime.)
But I found a pretty interesting Halloween quote this weekend in the Associated Press that made me think in that pseudo-antro/soc way yet again: “The NRF said more people plan to dress up for the holiday than ever before — 40.1 percent compared with 33.4 percent last year and the highest percentage since the group started tracking Halloween trends in 2003. ‘We expect 2010 to be the year of the costume,’ said NRF spokeswoman Kathy Grannis, who cites the poor economy as a possible reason people are investing in some fun.” So, if this is the year of the costume and more people are dressing up than ever before, I thought it’d be interesting to analyze the most popular costume choices of this Halloween, and maybe how a grad. student would fit into the trend. 

Last year, the two most popular costumes seemed to be Sarah Palin and Michael Jackson—homages (or satiric imitations) of two dead icons. Okay, so maybe Palin was just dying politically at the time and has probably since revived…but still. WOAH—Sarah Palin Zombie costume, anyone?

What are the trends we’re seeing this year?

1.       Nerds and Hipsters—Well, obviously, we’re in grad. school. We can’t dress up as nerds…that wouldn’t be a costume. I guess so of us could do hipsters, but I’ve met some very lovable hipster-like people in grad. school who I would not want to impersonate.
2.       Harry Potter Characters—Maybe it’s just me, but OMGI’MSOEXCITEDFORHPINNOVEMBER! The midnight showing will be like a pre-Thanksgiving break break from work.
3.       Jersey Shore Characters (particularly Snooki, Pauly D., and Mike “The Situation”)—What does it say about our culture that these are the famous people who everyone follows? I dunno…but I think making them into a Halloween costume might be a good step towards seeing them in their true “situation”—ridiculous caricatures of human beings. Although, I must say, they are entertaining. I mean, who’d want a reality TV show about me doing my homework 24/7? Nobody. I don’t even want to watch that. Plus, they make me feel better about myself!
4.       Lady Gaga—First of all, I have a confession to make. I am a “little monster.” But, even for non-Gaga fans, Lady Gaga’s decision to live life as if she’s constantly on an avant-garde cat walk makes her a perfect person to imitate for Halloween. Plus, I will always be indebted to Gaga. Learning the “Bad Romance” dance in between writing papers is what got me through my first semester of graduate school.
5.        Vampires—Twilight. True Blood. Any kind of vampire will do. I actually really dislike Twilight, but I know grad. students who really enjoy it for the same reason I like True Blood—it’s fun fluff to get your mind off of the intense work. Now, here are some tough questions: If people will be doing True Blood vampires, will this extend to Sookie the fairy? And, if it does, how will we be able to distinguish between Snookis and Sookies!?!?!
6.       Alice in Wonderland Characters—This is my choice this Halloween. When you feel like you’re going crazy in graduate school, a Mad Hatter costume is the perfect choice, isn’t it? (If I felt angry instead of crazy, maybe I’d go with the Red Queen instead.) People speculate that the upsurge in Alice costumes this year is caused by the recent movie with Johnny Depp…but I chose this costume last November. Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass is/are one/some of my favorite book/s, and any graduate school student dressing up as a character from this classic is probably secretly displaying their true nerdom.

Maybe I’m biased, but I’d say #6 is the best way to disguise your grad. student self this Halloween. Especially if you’re an English student, of course. You get to pretend you know everything about pop culture while secretly remaining true to your inner grad. student underneath. So many layers! Who wants to do a textual analysis of my costume!?


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