The “haul” video or photo set is an internet-only art form that’s mostly been documented as it appears on Tumblr’s notorious shoplifting blogs, Reddit’s cosmetic and fashion communities, and YouTube’s merch unboxing channels. If you’re unfamiliar, it is exactly what it sounds like. You bring home a “haul” of new, enviable (usually expensive) goods and display them for the internet to comment on and admire. “Here are some things I now own, please respond,” is the message of a haul post, and lots of people do respond.
It’s a weird, brazen recognition of the reverence we have for good branding and for clean, new, disposable items that cost a lot of money, and it’s never done much for me before. I don’t care about anyone else’s new Nike Air Mags, exclusive Mac DeMarco fanzine, or $28 sugar scrubs, mostly because I’m kind of a gross person with semi-bad personal hygiene and no real fashion sense and, secondarily, if I ever got too invested in Mac DeMarco that would be bad for my brand. There were no thrills to be had, I thought, from watching someone pull apart the pristine packaging of a Glossier gift set or a new Star Wars toy.
In other words, it wasn’t the materialism that was repelling me, it was the objects themselves. I thought, “Let me know when there are haul videos for Chobani Flips or Duane Reade ankle socks or any one of the other three items that I regularly buy in bulk, okay?” Or, “Let me know when there are haul posts about something cool and related to my personal passions.” For example, Halloween decorations? As it turns out, this already exists and I have just discovered it and I love it. Sometimes you’re so eager to believe that you’re alone and can’t have what you want or need that you don’t even bother to look. I learned that from every feature film ever made.
Let’s take a tour of the goofy haul culture in the r/Halloween subreddit.
Here are some piles of recently-purchased Halloween stuff:
r/Halloween is full of helpful Halloween enthusiasts reporting back on their shopping excursions at Michael’s, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Spirit of Halloween, Walgreens, and even Disneyland. Nobody mentions this, but craft stores smell like fall, and I would love to blow my whole paycheck in one right now in exchange for the experience of touching black polyester lace and plastic cobwebs and sniffing fake straw and pumpkin candles until I pass out.
Haul posts are accompanied by comment threads debating the hit-or-miss Halloween inventory at HomeGoods, the best place to buy an enormous cauldron, or the best clearance sales to hit in November. They are extremely helpful, if owning lots of Halloween decorations is important to you.
Here are some rooms:
On a post titled “I couldn’t wait any longer, started putting up my decorations,” one Halloween enthusiast received the best sort of support I can imagine, with various internet strangers telling them “Looks fantastic!” and “Looks amazing” and “Please come decorate my house.” Another wrote a sad comment, with a sad-face emoji, because their boyfriend wouldn’t let them decorate a Christmas tree with a Halloween theme. The original poster shared some words of comfort: “Aww I bought a separate smaller tree for halloween. It’s a 3.5 ft black tree with white lights.”
One person wrote “This made my morning,” which is interesting because that is exactly what I was going to say about [gestures widely] all of this.
Here is a porch I wish belonged to me:
Here is one home office I really envy:
Here is the centerpiece for my imaginary wedding:
Why is this specific act of consumerist celebration so pleasant? Maybe the haul video itself is just an evolved expression of a reflex we develop as children, when we would come home from Trick or Treating and dump buckets of candy out onto bedspreads to be sorted, traded, compared, and shown off. And the Halloween decoration haul video is for people who still covet that candy experience, long denied to them now that they’ve been out of grade school for a substantial amount of time.
When you’re a grown-up you are supposed to care about your home, tending to it like you would tend to your own face. The acts of cleaning and home improvement are disgustingly, atrociously boring, but the act of turning your living space into a glittery wonderland or a nightmare den is a treat reserved for adulthood, which usually comes with some spending power and rooms of your own. I love it.
If you’re looking for the perfect marriage of haul video materialism and childlike excitement over a holiday celebrating (in its modern incarnation) essentially nothing but the color orange, morbid fantasy, and newly-crisp air, you can find it in r/Halloween. I will be there for the next six weeks, happy as a vampire in a Wendy’s walk-in cooler.