The seasons are changing again… here we are at the end of October already, and there’s no doubt, summer is over… in fact, as the beautiful leaves continue to drop from the trees, leaving behind only skeleton branches, clearly, Old Man Winter is on his way, at least here in Wisconsin. I enjoy the fall, even the fall yard cleanup, as we close up our outdoor activities, gather and stack firewood, mow the lawn one last time, and then put away the rakes and bring out the shovels.
Sometimes, my wife and I have even decorated our yard for fall with harvest time themes; a hay bale or two, a cute scarecrow, a few pumpkins. We enjoy the fall colors and harvest time themes, but we have never gone in for the Halloween stuff.
This year, however, I couldn’t help but notice that Halloween seems to be a bigger holiday than ever. Of course, most people celebrate this day innocently enough, and see it as just a day for the neighborhood kids to dress up and go door to door for sugary treats. Grown ups enjoy seeing all the kids out and greeting their neighbors. And most kids are just in it for the candy. I dare say that for the vast majority of people, there is no dark side to Halloween — they don’t think of it that way, and don’t celebrate it that way.
Still, the imagery we see surrounding Halloween today is darker than ever… and it’s everywhere. And… these images of death and gore prevail all year long…. it’s not just for October 31st anymore. Take a walk through your local Walmart, and just have a look. You’ll see T shirts, hats and other clothing adorned with skulls and other death imagery, all year long. You’ll see “Monster” energy drinks, posters with vampires, knives with dripping blood, imaginary animals or creatures with fangs and claws, and again, dripping blood.
Television, books and movies are growing increasingly dark. Once upon a time vampires and werewolves were feared… today, young girls are in love with them as these “creatures of the night” are romanticized. Some of the most popular programs on television have to do with death. “The Walking Dead,” is a popular show about zombies. Of course, we all remember the Twilight books and movies, with helped to make vampirism so popular.
Some TV channels air nonstop horror movies the entire month of October. Recently, I learned there is a cable TV channel devoted exclusively to horror, called “Chill.” People love these things.
So popular are these scenes of death, that young people — and even the not-so-young — are no longer satisfied just reading about death, evil, and monsters… now they are tattooing their bodies with gory images, skulls, gothic crosses, and satanic symbols, so they can keep the death symbolism with them always. In some of the larger cities there are actually “Vampire Clubs,” — night clubs where people dress up and go to party, many actually participating in blood-shedding rituals. Of course, we have all seen the “Goth” style of dress — all black clothing, usually adorned with chains, faces coverd in pale, white makeup, with eyes, nose and mouth outlined and accentuated heavily in black.
There does, indeed, seem to be a very real and growing interest in death — and especially with the UNdead; by that I mean zombies, vampires and things like that — people who USED to be dead, but somehow, whether by some sort of virus or satanic curse have now been raised from the dead, raised from the grave to walk the earth again. They are technically still dead and usually appear with rotting flesh, sunken eyes and tattered clothing, but now, able to move and walk again, are somehow inbued with supernatural strength and abilities to wreak havoc, kill, destroy, and create MORE UNdead, ungodly, cursed creatures like themselves.
But even those who truly believe such creatures are only imaginary or fictional, still have a strong interest in death, life after death, and communicating with the dead. In October of last year, the movie “Ouija” came out. The motion picture website imDb.com describes the movie this way: “A group of friends must confront their most terrifying fears when they awaken the dark powers of an ancient spirit board.” This movie brought in more than $50 million in profits in its first two months in theaters… to say nothing of the profits from DVD and streaming movie rentals, DVD sales, and of course, the huge new profits Hasbro enjoyed with a renewed interest in Ouija Board games.
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