You know, I used to play with make up for years. Strangely, it has held almost no appeal for me for as many years as I’ve been in Cambodia. It wasn’t until recently (2006?) that young, liberally minded and democratically curious Cambodians began celebrating Halloween, of all unexpected things.
In the beginning, I just rolled my eyes back and stayed at home with my makeshift family as I could not imagine what Cambodians could possibly do with Halloween. Since returning from Denmark in 2010, I stroll around the tourist ghetto on October 31st and shake my head in total disbelief at the throngs of thousands who have come in from the countryside to drink and gawk at the delightful number of mutilated freaks and grinning ghosts.
Siem Reap’s Halloween gets written up in the government controlled press as anarchy and a threat to social stability. Political demigods, who espouse Khmer nationalism, cite Halloween in Siem Reap as an example of western imperialism and cultural dilution.
This year, the nationalism has made me sick, so I decided to show them just how fabulous and threatening black eyeliner and rhinestones can be.
Again this year, everyone from monks to university professors to newspaper journalist asks my alter ego, Mr. Jones, “What does Halloween mean?”
This is what I wrote because I was getting nauseated by fielding questions from paranoid nationalists who are convinced Halloween is a sign of anarchy…
Halloween is the one day of the year when meanings and definitions are completely meaningless and unnecessary. Halloween is an opportunity for anybody to be anything for just one day.
It is a mistake to think Halloween is globally embraced. Today, this very ancient holiday, is celebrated and embraced around the world by anybody who wishes to be temporarily liberated from society’s rules and expectations.
Halloween is only a threat to people who are intimidated by individuality and freedom of expression.
In other words, embrace the moment and let your freak flag fly!