Over the past couple of years I've noticed that Halloween (which when I was a kid was essentially an excuse to dress up in silly outfits and eat dozens upon dozens of Reese's peanut butter cups, while hurling wads of wet toilet paper into the neighbors' trees) has morphed into something highly unsettling. Witness the fact that you can't enter any CVS-type store this month without being visually assaulted by all manner of gruesome displays, such as green-skinned zombie masks with eyeballs hanging out of them. Another delightful item I saw for sale this weekend: clear plastic posters with what are supposed to look like bloody handprints and other "blood-splatter" marks on them, which you're supposed to put up on your windows to give your house the air of having been the site of a mass chainsaw execution. Festive!
What the hell has happened to Halloween? Wasn't it originally supposed to be a kid's holiday? One kid who is having none of it is my Peanut, who had such a total freakout meltdown in the Walgreen's the other day that I literally had to carry her out as she screamed and screamed. For some perverse reason they had stocked many of their Halloween displays on shelves about three feet from the floor, meaning she was face-to-face with endless rows of gigantic rubber rats, Freddy Kreuger masks, fake rubber hands holding bloody knives, leering skeletons, etc. Now on top of everything else I have to worry about her being scarred for life by Halloween displays?
I've been thinking about this in light of this horrible torture porn horror movie trend of the past few years, which also unsettles me a great deal. I remember having a conversation about this with the manager of our local Hollywood Video, and trying to explain to the guy that there was no way I could bring my toddler into that store when every third DVD on the shelves was festooned with graphic photos of people being tortured. I was not sorry to see that, between Netflix and On-Demand cable movies, the Hollywood Video is about to close its doors, but the gross-out movie trend continues. And I've realized that maybe all this gruesomeness is about art imitating life.
You read enough stuff like this, and you start to think that when the Earth eventually gets its revenge on us, quite a few of us are going to deserve it.