Monday, October 31, 2011

From the Haunted to the Horrible

I am amazed at how our traditions of Halloween have morphed from being 'spooky' to being an extravaganza of 'blood and gore'. We've gone from the haunted to the horrible.

At a time when we are assailed by terrorism, unrestrained violence and sudden horrible deaths, I am buffaloed by displays of bloody skulls, dismemberment, and rotting bodies—and that's just in the aisles of Walgreen's . With innumerable Halloween stores catering to the bloody extremes of the trend, I prefer the supernatural thrill of moonlit cemeteries and icy fingers on the back of my neck, rather than celebrating horrible people doing horrible things.

Below, in the midst of World War II, when the outcome of the war was in question and even when most people knew nothing of the holocaust—people didn't need to make up scary stories, they read them in the daily paper. Different faces and crimes, it's really no different now.

Rea Irvin — The New Yorker — October 31, 1942


Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

Hey, you're preaching to the choir. Theres nothing I'd rather do that to follow up on an annual tradition and crawl onto the couch after all the wee little tricker treaters have gone home once its dark, and watch one of the classic monster movies like Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, or The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Now I flip on any of the major cable channels and its all Slasher Movie Marathons.

By chance I happened to be in a Halloween store at the mall yesterday, and didn't know which I was more bothered by, the one wall filled with rubber bloody limbs for your lawn or the three walls filled with "Sexy" Costume Variants of everything you could imagine. I felt sorry for the mom who was there with her two pre-pubescent kids trying to explain to her son that he couldn't get a giant meat hook and to her daughter that she was too young to be either Sexy Witch, Sexy Nurse, Sexy Pirate or Sexy Cop. Thats not an exaggeration either, they say "Sexy" in big bold letters right on the package next to the picture of a model who was indistinguishable from the bloody "lawn meat" they were selling in the next isle.

LC Douglass said...

Yes, bought candy tonight and was surprised by the weird gory rubber masks. There were no phantoms or witches. It was either rotting zombies or axe murderers.

Bob said...

Amen to that! I think part of the problem is that Halloween has been co-opted by adults, when it was originally a holiday for the young and the young at heart. But it takes so long for people to mature these days (if ever) that stuff that should be for kids gets ruined by adults. (Think comics, anyone?) GREAT post and I love your blog!