Halloween has an identity crisis.
If I go uptown to my local Trunk or Treat event tonight, I’ll see cute little pirates and princesses all lined up with their pumpkin-shaped candy buckets. Parents will have infants and toddlers decked out as baby animals or pint-sized superheroes. It’ll be a-freaking-dorable.
Then on my way home, I’ll pass the home whose front yard is littered with severed body parts–a bloody torso here, gory limbs there. It looks like a bomb went off.
I don’t get it.
What is the fascination with the gore of Halloween? Okay, I’ll admit, scary is not my thing. Never has been, never will. I hate clowns, can’t do horror movies and even a Jack-in-the-box makes me jump out of my skin. But I get that other people enjoy the thrill of being scared, and Halloween is their opportunity to shine.
But I don’t get the gore. I can’t imagine shopping for fake blood and pondering which of the ripped-off arms in the store looks more realistic. It’s not really scary–it’s just gross. And disturbing. I just can’t understand how an otherwise unassuming person who bakes cookies for their neighbors and helps with food drives suddenly thinks nothing of posting a decapitated head on a stake on their porch.
Why can’t we just keep the Great Pumpkin and lose the cannibal-themed haunted houses? Do we really need to be horrified? The real world is full of horrific events and people. I’m not sure we need to pretend that we’re adding more.
You may be wondering where I draw the line. Actually, I’ve been thinking a lot about this, myself. (Obviously since I came out of my writing hiatus to post this rant.)
Ghosts? They’re fine because they aren’t real (well, aren’t proven to be real), and they’re usually not physically revolting to look at.
Skeletons? I’ll allow them, as long as they aren’t part flesh and part skeleton. I don’t want to see any rotting flesh, thank you.
Vampires? Of course. Not real.
Zombies? This one’s tough. Although they aren’t real, they ARE gory. They usually involve some degree of rotting, oozing flesh, which ranks high on the gross-out factor. I guess what I’m saying is if you want to just half-ass a zombie, that’s probably acceptable, but if you must go full-out gore with it, forget it.
In fact, maybe everyone should just take Halloween down a notch. If we all just half-assed it instead of trying so damn hard to one-up our neighbor on the gore factor, we wouldn’t have to put up our hand to shield our eyes when we drive by Body Parts Yard, and we might not find ourselves wondering if we’re going to someday watch a documentary on that person down the street who took Halloween a little too seriously and was later found out to be a prolific serial killer.
Go ahead– think of me as the Grinch of Halloween, but I think so much of it is completely unnecessary. Carve your pumpkins–I’m all for it. Even roast the pumpkin seeds, too. Come up with a costume at the last minute by digging through the tub of dress-up clothes. Take the kids trick-or-treating at the local nursing home, or drive around some friendly neighborhoods. Steal some of their candy after they go to bed–I’ve got your back. But just chill out with the blood and gore. There’s enough real horror in the world as it is. Call me crazy, but I’d rather see miniature Baby Sharks roaming the streets than witness what looks like the aftermath of a shark attack.