Take the horror out of Halloween
Silly costumes are one thing, but bloody artifacts of horror are another. Why do we expose children to Halloween's cult of death and call it 'fun'? We have no idea what we are nurturing.
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One store sold a bayonet-sized plastic knife with a hollow translucent blade that sloshed around crimson faux blood. I have seen real blood-encrusted bayonets discarded after the massacre of Palestinian innocents in the Lebanese refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in 1982. Now, as then, I shuddered. I quickly laid down the morbid Halloween dagger and walked away.Skip to next paragraph
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The retail rows of decorative faux skulls I saw reminded me of “Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War,” Paul Fussell’s graphic account of US soldiers in the Pacific who mailed skulls of Japanese soldiers to their stateside sweethearts, to be used as ashtrays.
Viewing some pretty frightening and extremely realistic monster masks brought back memories of an interview I did with an Iraqi teenager in Baghdad days after the US invasion in 2003. She was badly traumatized after watching feral dogs gnaw at human corpses in the street in front of her house. At the time, I scribbled in my reporter’s notepad, “Children should not have to see these kinds of things.” Yet in our Oct. 31 death orgies on Halloween, may we not also be traumatizing American children?
I suspect Bosnian Muslim, Croatian, and Serb parents have seen sufficient death in the past 20 years that they would not think of allowing their children to prance about in brutally realistic, death-commemorating masks.
Endorsing the cult of death
Perhaps some of the more hard-core Halloween paraphernalia should carry an “NC-17” rating. After all, children under 17 are barred from extremely graphic movies.
Other Halloween kits deserve at least an “R” rating. Some commercially available strings of Halloween lights are meant to be hung outdoors like Christmas lights. However, the Halloween variety features a dozen very bloodshot life-size eyeballs electrically illuminated.
Some might argue that this Halloween ghoulishness is all part of growing up, but if you believe that, perhaps we should permit schoolteachers to take children on field trips to the city morgue.
Every parent’s worst nightmare is the fear of the loss of a precious child. Yet mindlessly, some think nothing of encouraging children to commemorate an annual festival of death and call it fun. Why celebrate what has become a morbid tradition that is at best unwholesome and medieval?
Halloween need not be what it has become. By all means, trade candy and dress in silly costumes. But don’t unwittingly endorse the cult of death.