It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Halloween

2020 seems to finally be getting better. Halloween season is upon us and we are gearing up to have an at-home version of everyone’s favorite holiday. One of my favorite parts of the holiday, besides eating an obscene amount of candy, is watching the Halloween movies I grew up adoring. As a kid seeing my favorite fall colors reflected on screen brought me so much peace and happiness. Now that I’m an adult, as my unhealthy obsession grows so does my awareness of the female empowerment woven into these films. I want to take this time to remind you of some of our beloved cult classics and the roles women played in the films.

Halloweentown

The Halloweentown franchise was the biggest symbol of Halloween during my childhood. With the combination of an amazing grandma who’s one of the most powerful witches and the magical world of Halloweentown, it’s no wonder these films are so loved. However, I will declare that the final film after their recasting was a total flop. Especially since, while the majority of the film is centered on the power of women, the women of color within the films tend to be the villains. With the limited amount of East Asian representation in film, the “Sinister Sisters” again reinforce a stereotypical representation of an entire community.

The Asian representation in the third film largely revolves around creating a support system for the white protagonist. Marnie is the savior while her best friend, a “genie” and a woman of color, is placed on the sidelines. The film still holds a dear place in my heart, but I can’t help but wonder what difference it would have made to me if the main character had been someone of color.

Hocus Pocus

One of my family’s all-time favorites, Hocus Pocus is constantly replayed whether or not it's Halloween season. The costumes, plot and acting make this film a cult classic that will be loved for years. Three strong (also crazy) women are the pillars of the movie. Even though Bette Midler carried the movie, she also had to work with a restrictive stereotype of women. One of the recurring themes in most Halloween movies is that women are witches. Obviously, the word “witch” relates to being female but is it really necessary to make that a female character’s only quality?

It is also a film that lacks representation for women of color. The three main characters are white and even the children the film centers on are white. Due to its white narrative, some aspects of the film were unrelatable to me as a child. For example, my mother would never have let me go trick or treating by myself, let alone go into a known “witch” location. If it had featured characters that physically mirrored me or at least had my cultural mannerisms, it would have been an immersive experience. Hopefully, as they remake the film for Disney +, the production team will focus on creating more diversity.

Twitches

My holy grail, the one film to rule them all…So many phrases couldn’t capture the love I have for this film. It’s the only Halloween film that comes to mind that focuses on the story of two women of color and ignores every stereotype typically thrust onto teen films. Starring Tia and Tamera Mowry, two biracial women, and highlighting the integrity of sisterhood, Twitches shows how a film can have two women of color as principal characters without losing sight of its plot. Nowadays, we see films use diversity to appease the need for representation. It becomes harmful when done poorly, which is what we usually see. People of color are just people. We have different experiences, but we aren’t defined by them. The line between being respectful to differences and exacerbating them is difficult for Hollywood to understand.

This film did an excellent job of blending a privileged life and a not-so-privileged life. The difference wasn’t the main point of the plot. The story still revolved around two teenage girls that many of us could relate too. One went shopping and the other needed a job. It depicted two situations that any person of any community could relate too. That’s why I always tell young girls that Twitches is a Halloween staple.

Hopefully, you’ll enjoy these three recommendations centered around women. More importantly, take the time to reflect on what you’re watching this season. Note what could’ve been done better with the cult classics and what you expect newer Halloween films to rectify. Overall, 2020 has been a crazy year. It’s truly a treat to be able to unwind safely at home and relive some of our favorite movie moments.