Friday, October 26, 2007

A Gruesome Halloween

I have noticed it, too; sadly, it is not just my imagination. Halloween decorations used to be rustic and charming but lately they have become grotesque, as this article points out. One house I walked into had plastic severed arms and legs as part of a decoration; it made my stomach turn. What is going on?
Back in the '50s, Halloween was a holiday centered on children and candy bars. In the glow of these memories, we think of families carving jack-o'-lanterns, decorating tricycles for neighborhood parades, bobbing for apples and trick-or-treating. And from this distance, even the tricks, such as draping toilet paper over a front-yard tree, appear benign.

But the country has been through a lot in the past 60 years, and violent images have become part of our culture, Bannatyne said. She pointed to slasher movies of the '70s -- specifically the 1978 horror movie "Halloween" -- as a turning point.

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9 comments:

Elisa said...

Halloween themed horror films aren't for me!
I remember a crazy and fun filled night over Halloween weekend in Salem, MA during my junior year of college. Don't go into a haunted house if it's not your thing.

Alexandra said...

Funny, I was just telling my husband the same thing last night...Halloween is not about cute little ghosts and pumpkins anymore. We don't even bother with it because all the fun is gone. It's no longer innocent childhood fun and has taken on an unwholesome quality.

alaughland said...

There was a time when people actually experienced dead and mangled bodies, when they actually went out onto the battle field and picked them up, (Still happening in other parts of the world). No one would have wanted to display them as part of a decorative scheme. It just shows how insulated we are from that kind of thing now a days.

elena maria vidal said...

Well, it's one thing to know that you are going to have to pick up dead bodies after a battle but another to suddenly be confronted with one on someone's foyer.

papabear said...

The San Jose Mercury has coverage of (Hispanic) Day of the Dead festivities in the area... if I had time I would check them out...

Paula said...

Dear Elena, I intended to ask someone about Halloween. As you know I am Romanian and I live in Germany. Halloween is celebrated in West-Europe also and one can see the gruesome stuff spreading too...I was confused for a long while about how one can place cute little pumpkins beside some horror creature...Now, after your post I know: it was not so always and it is not normal.

elena maria vidal said...

Hi, Paula. Halloween is a very ancient festivity since on the Celtic pagan calendar Nov 1 was New Year's day. Like other pagan customs, such as Christmas trees, it was "baptized" and became "All Hallows' Eve," the Vigil of All Saints Day. I am not the kind of Christian that views All Hallows' Eve as evil in itself; its very name designates the vigil of a great and holy feast. If we were going to throw out EVERYTHING in our religion that has pagan connotations, that the old missionaries to Europe adapted to Christianity, we would have to throw out a lot, including Christmas trees. I will be doing a post on this in the next few days.

Nevertheless, lately Halloween has taken a bizarre turn and has become morbid. I resent the corruption of something that is wholesome fun for our children.

elena maria vidal said...

Here is a site with more information:

http://www.angelfire.com/pa3/
OldWorldBasic/Halloween.htm

(Via A Conservative Blog for Peace)

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

How naive of me to think that Halloween's biggest problem was the same as that of St. Valentine's Day: a take over by Hallmark. =S

I saw a similar tendency towards the gruesome when my students put together their presentations for Dante's Inferno. No matter what I said, however, they couldn't understand why I was so bothered. When I tried explaining about bad taste, they would protest, "But it's about Hell!" I suspect they'd say the same things about grotesque Halloween costumes. =(