Taste the rainbow

Halloween Burger from Burger King_1443301965172_24439531_ver1.0_640_480

Why gimmicky-coloured food should stay out of your mouth

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. October 16, 2015

In honour of Halloween, Burger King grilled up the spooky Black Whopper. Brilliant. Horrifying. Like green beer during St. Patrick’s Day or wacky-coloured eggs on Easter, changing the hue of food is nothing unusual. Putting aside what the Black Whopper does to our excrement, I cannot ignore this lame marketing attempt.

Colour is not innovation, and rarely does it enhance flavour. Remember in 2013, when Apple released the iPhone 5C? Colour was the newest design update, and they made a big deal out of it—even though the majority of people who have a smartphone have a case for it. Same goes with food—especially fast food. You cannot give something another coat of paint and expect people to be impressed.

My first encounter with food of another colour was late in my childhood. I was young and still impressionable, and Heinz EZ Squirt Ketchup caught my attention the way a bug would when it flies into my face. This was in 2000, so I assume you might not remember, but Heinz EZ Squirt Ketchup was the famed condiment company’s attempt to appeal to a younger demographic. Yes, imagine it now: green, purple, orange, and blue ketchup. It sounds too interesting not to try. So, my parents bought me a bottle of the purple kind. I had two hot dogs with it—and that was it.

Immediately, at such a young age, I realized what an impact colour had on the overall preconception of food. If it looks wrong, it’ll taste wrong. My brain just couldn’t make purple ketchup good.

Don’t believe that colour affects flavour? Try this: grab a bag of Skittles, have a friend with you, and eat each one with your eyes closed and try to distinguish its colour. Red is supposed to taste like cherry, right? Purple is supposed to be grape, right? You’ll be surprised how inaccurate your taste buds are without the help of your eyes.

Colour is great for decoration, but it should not be the main selling point for anything, be it cars, appliances, or even food. Ask yourself, when was the last time you ate something just because of the colour? Maybe it was greens, because your parents forced you to—but otherwise, very seldom.

When was the last time you were out with friends, and someone asked: “What do you want to eat?” and you said, “Something yellow.” “Fried chicken it is!” Never. That’s not how we make decisions. Food marketers need to be a little more creative, a little more inventive, and a little more tasteful when offering limited-time food. It should not be gimmicky. It should be tasty.

You have the privilege

Image via http://everydayfeminism.com

Is your costume racist, offensive… or just sexy?

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. October 28, 2015

I want to talk about cultural appropriation involving Halloween costumes. I know, I know, it’s a long-discussed topic between party-poopers and ignorant eye rollers.

Let me come at this subject from where I stand as a Halloween party participant. Each year I attend a party wearing a costume where I feel like it’s not me. Not because I’m uncomfortable or the fact that it’s supposed to be a costume, it’s just because I have a hard time convincing people that I’m a white guy. My previous costumes included: Donnie Darko (I looked like a hoodlum), Richie Tenenbaum (I looked like Kim Jong-il), and Steve Jobs (I looked like my uncle Stephen). One year, I said, “Fuck it,” and went as Glenn from The Walking Dead. I wore a baseball hat; that was my whole costume. Even I knew that was a lame costume. I looked like a tourist.

Yes, you might say, white is the default race and therefore white people cannot be offended if I should dress up as a cowboy. Then how come when a white guy dresses up as a Chinaman it’s a big deal?

Oh, he’s perpetuating a stereotype, you say.

He should check his privilege.

I hate that phrase, “check your privilege,” this line for governing white people. Thanks, I don’t need the protection, other white people. I have thick skin. Your little costume doesn’t offend me.

I’ll never know what it’s like to be a white person, but I do know what racism is. Racism is when you tell me I can’t drive because I’m Chinese. Racism is when a black guy gets arrested, only because the white police officer is scared. Racism is trying to get your foot in the door for a job and having less-experienced white people leapfrog you. A Halloween costume is not a big, oppressive statement. It’s a costume. It’s not the problem, and those that believe it is are those same people who try to be healthy by avoiding sugar in coffee, and then eating a cake as a reward. It’s a molehill problem, not a mountain.

Here’s a popular response: Would you dress up like a black guy around a group of black guys? I’m not saying that if Robert Downey Jr. did it, it’s okay. I’m saying no, I would not dress up like a black guy in Ferguson, St. Louis during the riot. But if I had a Bob Marley costume, I’d wear it on Halloween around friends who understand “One Love.”

There’s a time and place to learn about other people’s culture, and Halloween can be one of them. You can wear a straw-farming hat the same way I can wear overalls and call myself a farmer. The headwear is actually used for farming! It’s real. Wear it because you are interested and you want to learn more about the culture. And do. Mock it because it’s goofy. It is.

Is blackface offensive? Are buckteeth and squinty eyes offensive? Is dressing up as Caitlyn Jenner offensive? Is cross-dressing offensive? Are you able to even out the offence? You know, dress up as Hitler one year and Anne Frank the next? We are so god damn politically correct these days we don’t even know who we are or aren’t offending. We don’t need to walk on eggshells every Halloween. There are more heinous acts of hate in the world. Don’t make hate out of nothing.

No glory for gory

Image via http://fox13now.com

Horrifying decorations is what Halloween is all about

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. Oct. 28, 2015

If you think jack-o’-lanterns, skeleton cutouts, and fake cobwebs are scary, then you’re probably not known around the neighbourhood as being brave. While it’s understood that we all celebrate Halloween in our own unique way, we can all agree that fright should be the theme of the day—not dressing slutty and eating candy.

A community in Parma, Ohio, was left feeling disturbed and disappointed earlier this month when a local resident decorated their yard with scenes of gruesome torture and murder. Human-like and horrifying, the decorations caused neighbours to complain. Generally speaking, people don’t like being scared, unsettled, and disgusted, but hell, this is what Halloween is about.

The argument can be that children should not be exposed to such horrific sight. They might become traumatized by the decoration. It might cause them to grow up and become psychotic killers. Yes, while all that may be true—after all, kids don’t know better—it’s your job as an adult to explain to your children that those are decorations, and they are meant to look real, just like how special effects in a movie are meant to look real. Listen, mom and dad, you cannot shield your children’s eyes forever. You cannot protect them from every scary sight in the world.

I get it; only bad parents would let their children be frightened by some decorations. And it wouldn’t be fair for them to have to deal with a crying child. If they could stop it, they should do anything to stop it. You know what else scares children? Literally anything they want to be afraid of: dogs, weather, insects, nightmares, strangers, anything. If you can teach them rational from irrational fear, you’d be a better parent than one who protects them from every scary thing. You’ll also teach them to be brave, which is useful should they ever need to go down to the basement and fix the burnt-out lightbulb, or respond to an emergency involving blood.

Life is full of scary incidents. A near car accident is scary. Choking on your food while you are alone is scary. Losing your job is scary. Being scared is good. It’s a natural human reaction. Like all things in normal life, the more accustomed you are to that feeling, the better you can cope with it. Halloween should be a time for you to test your limits and face your fears.

It sucks that we live in a world where people who want to share their enthusiasm of fright are shunned and pressured into dismantling their well-made decorations. It’s a shame that people cannot see the beauty in horror, and instead choose the blandness of comfort. Christmas is a great time for comfort. Thanksgiving is a great time for comfort. Halloween should be about disturbance. After all, if loud-ass firecrackers and rambunctious trespassing children are allowed then why not some fake blood?