When Decorations Echo A Gruesome Reality – Halloween Horror In Your Face

by admin on October 14, 2014

As a follow up to last week’s post regarding the scary, hairy dog spider prank and strangers being frightened by horrific scenes of death, today’s post will be about the escalation of horror images in public places as Halloween nears.

Last year I was stunned when a younger member of my extended family pinned a particular disturbing image of a Halloween lawn decoration to her Pinterest board. It was an image of a toddler sized skeleton dressed in female toddler sized dress sprawled across the lawn. “Casey Anthony” immediately came to the mind.

Since then, the quality and detail of some Halloween decorations has escalated to the point where the line between fantasy and realism are blurred. It’s no longer titilatingly spooky in a fun way but rather designed for maximum revulsion and a dehumanizing of people as merely dead props. Several websites encourage readers to “take it to the next level” as if it is a competition to see how far one can push the boundaries of not just taste but community good will. Some examples of those “decorations” include realistic flayed (as in all the skin removed) human torsos, hangman’s nooses with bodies in front yard trees, body bags, decomposed decapitated heads, child sized skeletons chained together, bloody hand prints, bodies that appear to have died of extreme torture, humans in the midst of extreme torture, just to name a few. Every one of those “decorations” has a strong connection to recent events worldwide that are so horrific that the news media will not show it on air (or even mention it in some instances) yet the residents of some communities are visually assaulted with this too realistic images on their own streets. An example of some of these decorations that have raised community ire are below…

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/10/09/1335465/-Halloween-decorations-in-Dallas-Texas-suburb

http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/slideshow?widgetid=130476&slideshowimageid=1

It’s one thing when people choose to be frightened by buying tickets to haunted houses where the gore level can be quite high. Having been forewarned about the graphic nature of the experience, people have the freedom to choose to see this. That freedom is totally removed when gore scenes are displayed on front yards forcing drivers and passersby to see what they may prefer not to. I’m not a fan of Homeowners Associations but in this instance, I would be petitioning the community to codify new standards of taste in regards to Halloween decorations. With freedom comes an equal obligation to act responsibly and with restraint in the best interests of the community. People lose the freedom to do with their own property as they wish because they fail to apply reasonable restrictions to themselves to avoid offending the community at large. What you display inside your home or a fenced backyard is no one else’s business but splat it across the front yard with the intention of horrifying as many people as possible and you’ve gained the attention of those who will wish to curtail that.

{ 250 comments… read them below or add one }

Charliesmum October 14, 2014 at 7:09 am

I agree. I think people don’t understand the difference between ‘terrified’ and ‘horrified’. Terrified is watching a doorknob in an empty house turn, or mysterious footsteps in the atttic overhead. Horrified is seeing someone killed with a chainsaw or thrown off a building.

A dead child is horrifying. A ghost child is terrifying. Give me the ghost child any day of the week. (Although not literally. I like to sleep at night)

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Cecilia October 14, 2014 at 8:44 am

I totally agree. That second link is just…well, horrifying. I kind a teensy bit nauseated.

I think if my grandmother or mother were driving/walking along and saw that first house from the video, they might just call the police, thinking there had been a horrible accident.

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Tee October 14, 2014 at 7:27 am

The video and the second URL are a bit much for me, and while the first URL is distasteful, it’s obviously fake. I recall seeing corpses hanging from trees growing up in the south, but they were clearly straw men and not realistic at all to me as a child. Is this any different from people displaying 5 to 10 blow up figures during the holidays? Also, there was a house in our town which featured porcelain toilets on its large porch (the toilets were places upon the railing, and there were a lot of them – at least ten). There’s not much that can be done. We just laughed about it.

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MyFamily October 14, 2014 at 9:28 am

Last year, my family drove past a house that had some very gruesome Halloween decorations; that night, one of my kids came to me upset because they kept seeing one of them while they were starting to fall asleep, this would upset them and they’d be completely awake again. We were driving down a street – we didn’t do anything to imply or tell anyone that it was okay to scare my child (this year we are making a point of avoiding that street all together, just to be safe). A year later, I’m still upset about this, and my child asked me if any of our neighbors would be putting anything scary out in front of their houses, so obviously it is still bothering her.

Toilets on the porch or blow-up figures in the lawn are silly, and don’t look very nice, in my opinion, but then again, the colors my neighbor chose for his house also doesn’t look very nice either, but as much as I don’t personally like any of those 3 things, they don’t keep me or my child from sleeping.

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Tee October 16, 2014 at 9:14 am

I am well aware of the effects of disturbing materials. I myself suffered a terrible trauma when I was 4 years old. My point is that unless you have a neighborhood association, there’s not much that can be done other than talking to the home owner.

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Green123 October 14, 2014 at 7:28 am

British person here, totally bemused by the obsession with Halloween that is sweeping the UK at the moment. Surely it’s just one day – not even that, an evening – yet decorations and chocolates and ‘let’s prepare for Halloween’ articles have been all over the place since September. Like Christmas, it seems to have become a ‘season’, needlessly, and yet another excuse for shops to peddle tat and junk food.

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P October 14, 2014 at 7:52 am

I’m with you. I find Halloween a ludicrous affair; adults dressing up and behaving like children for absolutely no reason. It’s not even a holiday. When I was a child, trick or treat was a sort-of thing – although certainly not to the degree it is these days, and we may have had children’s parties with apple bobbing and pumpkins, but we did not have Halloween parties where the adults dressed up. Kids knocking on doors and demanding chocolate – as if today’s children aren’t fat enough already without coming home with huge bags full of sweets endorsed by their parents – and adults dressing up in costume to go to work? Ridiculous! Whatever next?

So yes, with that mindset, I do agree that the level of gore seen in the OP is OTT, although since it’s a Daily Mail video I wouldn’t place too much credence on it, since most of what’s in the Mail is overinflated to give ultimate shock-value to conservative (small C) Middle England.

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admin October 14, 2014 at 11:58 am

The Daily Mail video was documenting a house in Oklahoma, US owned by one Johnie Mullins who, according to other news stories, has no intention of removing his realistic dead bodies and blood from his driveway.

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Roslyn October 14, 2014 at 12:49 pm

To many people Halloween IS a Holiday. If you want to open to other beliefs google Samhain. It dates back quite far and many cultures observe a Day of the Dead type of celebration.

Naturally America has taken it to a very different level. I love the spooky traditional decorations, but I can agree with others to the bloody and tortured images that people are displaying.

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Asharah October 14, 2014 at 1:48 pm

The simple fact is that alot of people who enjoyed Halloween as children grew up and decided they shouldn’t have to stop celebrating just because they were adults. And no, I’m not thrilled with all the gore stuff, but if I chose to dress up to greet the trick-or-treaters coming to my door, I don’t need somebody telling me I’m “ridiculous” for doing it.

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NostalgicGal October 14, 2014 at 8:18 pm

I’ve always dressed up to greet the trick or treaters. Nothing over the top, but definitely I’m not in street clothes. They dress up, so I do too.

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Amanda H. October 15, 2014 at 1:44 pm

I’m with you on this one. I love dressing in costume, and get so few opportunities to do so as an adult (Halloween and the occasional convention are the extent), and I love Halloween and being (reasonably) scared. I’m one of those people who’d be decorating their yard (tastefully, not gruesomely) and greeting trick-or-treaters in costume or dressing up to escort her kids around the neighborhood.

Some decoration ideas in the above post (didn’t watch the videos) sound reasonable to me, if they were done in the right context. A few bloody handprints on the windows next to the front door could be spooky without horrifying, not to mention not really visible from the street. I could see myself acquiring a “family” of fake skeletons and dressing them up on the front yard, but I’d be posing them for a photo on a bench, possibly with a sheet ghost to take the “photo” with an old-fashioned camera. You know, something that could be seen as humorous rather than gruesome.

If the first inclination of passers-by is to call the cops, I’m doing it wrong.

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Peas October 14, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Halloween IS a holiday.

It’s not a Christian holiday, but it absolutely is a cultural one.

You don’t seem to have a grasp of the purpose or spirit of this holiday, so I won’t address the meanness in the rest of your post!

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Pktaxwench October 15, 2014 at 1:18 am

What Peas said is my reply.

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Eva October 15, 2014 at 6:15 am

That may be the case, Peas. But I do not believe, that those observing Halloween as a religious holiday decorate their lawns in the discussed manner.

Frankly I refuse to watch the video or the posted links, since I already consider what I see disgusting. I will believe though, that the people criticised do not intend to mock religious practises, but have “fun” in a different spirit.

Still it would be nice, if they stopped to consider those with weaker stomachs and possibly different beliefs.

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Peas October 15, 2014 at 8:46 am

I think a lot of people think the same thing as your last line around the christmas/easter season!

I know plenty of people who DO celebrate Halloween as a pagan holiday and ALSO put up macabre decorations.

P October 15, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Sigh.

It is a holiday *IN THE US*.

It is *NOT* a “holiday” in the same way in the UK, which is what the PP’s post was addressing; the fact that the American way of celebrating Halloween is creeping over into our shops/culture/etc, which is why I said it isn’t a holiday.

That is what I was addressing. I was agreeing with her post.

Why is it that some Americans are completely incapable of understanding that the world works differently outside their own country?

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P October 15, 2014 at 12:12 pm

By the way, just as you’re entitled to enjoy it, I’m also entitled to find it ridiculous and childish and gluttonous – I, for example, am fairly horrified by the pictures that people post of their hauls of chocolate and sweets and sugary junk food – and to hope it doesn’t find its way into our culture in any more of a way than it already has.

The entire point of Halloween in the states seems to be for already overweight children to gorge on chocolate, and I find it rather disgusting, to be frank.

P October 15, 2014 at 1:24 pm

If it is a ‘cultural holiday’ then please tell me what exactly it is you are celebrating, other than the excuse to go and knock on people’s doors and demand junk food?

It may be enjoyable, but I still maintain it’s a Hallmark holiday. It exists purely for the sake of existing.

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Peas October 16, 2014 at 8:49 am

It’s pure excess and fun and enjoyment!

I’m sorry you can’t understand that fun can exist purely for the purpose of being fun and still be a good thing!!!

ChicaLola October 16, 2014 at 2:18 pm

You can look up the history of Halloween and form your own conclusion. It’s obviously taken on a life of it’s own, and each year becomes different. Making someone feel bad for enjoying it as a holiday is just rude. And yes…..going door to door to get candy, dressing up at work and school, and having costume parties are all part of it. You do not need to participate, but as long as there are people who do….it will stay. I hate Valentine’s Day. That has a history of it’s own, and is completely different than it was intended. I have a wonderful husband and family, and don’t need to express my love on one day with chocolates and roses. But I don’t make another person feel bad or make them feel stupid for celebrating it themselves.

Lady_P October 14, 2014 at 6:11 pm

I know! I hate when about other people have fun in ways I don’t deem appropriate for reasons I don’t understand, without in any way hurting me, affecting me, or forcing me to participate. That, and when parents I don’t know make decisions I don’t approve of about things that also don’t hurt or affect me.

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Green123 October 15, 2014 at 4:14 am

In the UK it is not a ‘cultural holiday’. And as a householder I am ‘forced’ to participate by children and teenagers people ringing my doorbell at all hours begging (yes, it’s begging!) for sweets. Elderly people and those with very small children are harassed and scared, partcularly when ill-parented youths threaten to use eggs, flour, or fireworks as missiles if they’re not given armfuls of sugary junk.

My local council now offers ‘No Trick Or Treat’ signs to residents who wish to opt-out of the ‘festivities’. They are frequently ignored. This year, luckily, I’ll be out for the evening, in the cinema. Bliss.

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LadyClaire October 15, 2014 at 8:36 am

It’s not like that everywhere, however. I live in the US and no one that I know has ever been harassed, scared, or threatened for not giving out candy. In my neighborhood if you’re handing out candy, you have your porch light on. I’ve seen parents guide their kids away from the houses whose porch lights are turned off. No one has been egged or had any missiles launched at their house for not giving out candy. It was the same way when we lived in Florida.

Declaring that the entire holiday is stupid and that the people who celebrate it are ridiculous (as P did) is more than a little rude.

Peas October 15, 2014 at 8:47 am

That’s not the fault of the holiday. It’s the fault of the rude people.

Enna October 15, 2014 at 11:43 am

My understanding was (and my mother’s) that if you put a carved pumpkin outside your front door then it meant you would except trick or treaters. Where I live we did have some right vandals egg people’s houses about 12 years ago but they grew up. Last year mum wanted to go all out and decorated the pourch in a more civilised fashion. (No nasty things). There were a lot of young children so after 9:00 there were no more calls. One child who was with his mother for his first Halloween, he was only three and very cute. Mum had burried a load of sweets in a big basin of porriadage oats and had to help him find the sweets!

Michele October 16, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Love, love, love this, Lady_P!

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Tracy W October 15, 2014 at 5:17 am

I find Halloween a ludicrous affair; adults dressing up and behaving like children for absolutely no reason.

I presume they have the reason of wanting to have fun. And in my experience adult Halloween parties have too much booze involved for anyone to think that the guests are behaving like children.

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Vrinda October 14, 2014 at 8:46 am

Didn’t Halloween originate in Ireland, then spread to Scotland and England, then was brought over by settlers to the U.S.? Halloween has been celebrated there for a long time.

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P October 14, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Yes it has – but not in the way it’s celebrated in America. I would say it was ‘observed’ here, rather than celebrated. It was never a massive holiday and certainly not something you needed to ‘get ready’ for. It was one evening, during which there might be a Halloween party for kids with the aforementioned apple bobbing, etc. The American way of celebrating Halloween has crept over here in the last few years and like a previous UK poster, I’m completely baffled by it. I’m not even quite sure what it is that you’re meant to be celebrating, apart from an excuse to dress up in costumes and knock on peoples’ doors for chocolate. To me it’s the holiday equivalent of people who are famous for being famous, if you know what I mean.

In the UK, it’s been sort of rolled into one with Guy Fawkes Night/Bonfire Night ever since I can remember, which is a much bigger deal, because the dates are so close together (5th Nov for Bonfire Night).

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megz October 17, 2014 at 4:33 am

What you’re describing doesn’t sound anything like the “Amercan way” of celebrating Halloween that I grew up with.

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Mer October 14, 2014 at 1:33 pm

P: I heartily disagree with you. Halloween-type (or generally, the end of the summer season, when all the harvest is done and the winter is beginning) is again one of the widely celebrated things. Names differ, but the celebration is there. Like with Christmas, which is the time of year when light begins to win against the darkness, different cultures have celebrated it under different names over centuries, even millennia. So really, it is wonder if the time is not celebrated.

Halloween, samhain, kekri (which has been the equivalent in my country), a beloved child has many names. Average human nowadays is so estranged from the nature, that we don’t understand anymore why we celebrate when we do. Yet, I feel these are like history 101, basic understanding of (western) cultures.

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Kirst October 14, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Samhain is the Celtic festival. Christianity replaced it with Hallowe’en, as it replaced Yule with Christmas, Ostara has become Easter etc. Hallowe’en has always been more actively celebrated in Scotland and Ireland than in England, but with guising rather than trick-or-treating. England, on the whole, makes more of Bonfire Night, whereas Scotland and Ireland are a bit less gung-ho about celebrating executing a Catholic.

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Cat October 14, 2014 at 6:38 pm

Close, but not dead-on (no pun intended). Christianity never celebrated Halloween; it celebrated All Souls Day, on which day we pray for the dead in Purgatory. Since most Protestants do not believe in Purgatory, it became Halloween, which is an Americanized Celtic pagan festival. (Nothing wrong with that. )
I happen to enjoy any holiday which has food attached to it. I’ll celebrate Chinese New Year, Guy Fawles’ Day, your birthday-just invite me over. I’m open minded.

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Aleko October 15, 2014 at 7:03 am

You’re off target. Hallowe’en *is* (or rather was) a Christian festival – literally, All Hallows Eve, a.k.a. the eve of the feast of All Saints, which is the day after All Souls! In medieval Christian practice the eve of a religious holiday was routinely as much celebrated as the day itself.

jazzgirl205 October 15, 2014 at 9:28 am

Okay people, it’s Hallowe’en, then All Saints Day, then All Souls Day. Trust me on this. I come from the Gulf Coast of the US where the descendants of the French and Spanish take those 2 days seriously. The Catholic churches are decorated with more saints than usual interspersed with framed photos of parish members who have died that year.

I only saw the bodies near the garage and the fence with the head. Those didn’t seem OTT. In my neighborhood, all of the houses were built in the 1950s and 60s – except mine which was built in 1888. We take advantage of that when decorating for halloween. We set up a derelict cemetery in the front yard with ghosts and skeletons. The front porch is festooned with spiderwebs and our windows have ghosts peeking out. No one has complained and everyone has complimented.

I’m inclined toward a more supernatural celebration of Halloween: ghosts, fairies, skeletons, devils, witches etc… I see it as Xians taking a day (or evening) out of the year to thumb their nose and make sport of evil thereby rendering it powerless. When my dd was growing up, she couldn’t trick or treat unless she was a fairy or something scary. We had lots of fun.

Hillary October 20, 2014 at 10:28 am

My church celebrates Reformation Day instead, and the children are expected to dress up as either Biblical or Reformation heroes. Many little Martin Luthers, Katie Von Boras, and John Calvins abound! Now, this is a direct response to the popularity of Halloween but I know that Reformation Day has been celebrated in some variety in my church since even before Halloween’s cultural growth. So not all Protestants do Halloween. 😉 (Although I, myself, enjoy it–just trying to win over my husband to the idea!)

Aleko October 15, 2014 at 7:11 am

No, it didn’t; Hallowe’en has been celebrated in England since forever (people always forget that England is a substantially Celtic country too) but most of the native English customs associated with it have been swept away in the last 30 years or so by American ones. I remember when every family or village had a dozen different ways of predicting the future on Hallowe’en – finding out the name of one’s future wife or husband, for example.

What is true is that Guy Fawkes’ Night on November 5th has tended to attract to itself all the ‘fire and fireworks’ aspects of the ancient solstice festival. Guy Fawkes is ostensibly a sectarian and political commemoration, but in fact Halloween and Guy Fawkes, only six days apart, are really only that festival split into two.

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Kirst October 15, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Hallowe’en falls nowhere near either of the solstices, which are midwinter and midsummer.

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Mer October 16, 2014 at 2:58 am

Autumnal equinox would not be that far. Though beginning of the winter is a turning point of a kind, just like solstices.

Aleko October 17, 2014 at 8:02 am

Sorry, mind-fail: I meant equinox.

Anonymous October 14, 2014 at 7:44 am

I don’t think the decorations in the video were that bad, but I’d probably draw the line at the dummy under the car, making it look like someone got run over. Then again, I can’t really say, because the video was taken in broad daylight. It’d be good if we could see what that yard looks like a night.

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Anonymous October 14, 2014 at 1:42 pm

*at night.

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another Laura October 14, 2014 at 8:09 am

As the mother of two young children who want to know the purpose of EVERYTHING, I shrink from having to tell my 4-year old why there is a body hanging from a tree, or a baby skeleton with a hatchet or whatever decorations people slather their property with during the fall. I’m not sure I agree though that we must always be careful not to offend our neighbors. Some people choose to be offended by manger scenes, Menorahs, Christmas trees, jack o’lanterns, Santa, telling someone “merry Christmas” or replacing it with “happy holidays,” Stars of David or any number of things that don’t traumatize small children or people with weak stomachs.

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Cat October 14, 2014 at 6:41 pm

I had to drive a group of teachers from the Soviet Union around some public schools on Halloween. I was trying to explain the ghosts, skeletons, goblins, jack o’lanterns and why the assistant principal, a middle-aged man, was wearing a dress, heels and a woman’s hat. The principal, a woman, had on a man’s suit. “Well, you see…”

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JeanLouiseFinch October 14, 2014 at 8:29 am

I agree that Halloween decorations have become way too gruesome. I say this on my way to shopping for some spiderwebs and a screaming doormat. However, I draw the line at bodies and blood in my front yard. The awful thing is that there have been instances of actual suicides and bodies being mistaken for Halloween decorations (see http://www.snopes.com/horrors/gruesome/halloween.asp )

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Lera99 October 14, 2014 at 9:37 am

I always wonder is these are adults who were single children and have never had kids.
So they have no idea how much their gruesome decorations can affect a small child.

It’s your house. You have the right to decorate it the way you wish.
But I always believe we should observe Wheaton’s Law. And it’s kind of a dick move to make your neighborhood unsafe for the children who reside there.

I have friends in Connecticut who go all out for Halloween. They started decorating at the end of September. They have lights, spiderwebs, cheesecloth ghosts in the trees, fake headstones, etc… The night of they turn on a fog machine and play one of those “spooky sounds” tapes. He dresses as a Storm trooper, she dresses as a witch. Kids from all around the city come by to trick-or-treat there. Last year they had almost 250 kids show up.

So you can go all out for Halloween without a single bloody body part hanging around.

I think too many people are trying to compete with commercial events like the ones amusement parts put on for Halloween.

But Halloween Horror Nights (for example) is geared towards adults. It is meant to frighten and horrify. So yes they have people walking around with chainsaws, zombies, killer clowns, there are murder victims who have been killed in a variety of horrifying ways, etc… But ADULTS choose to pay good money to see that. It’s not appropriate for a local neighborhood.

I don’t believe I have the right to STOP people from decorating as they choose.
But I’m certainly willing to use the public pressure of “you ought to be ashamed of yourself” to voice my dismay over some of these decorations.

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Hollyhock October 14, 2014 at 12:36 pm

While I find the gory decor to be in poor taste, I do think it’s a bit much to imply that childfree people are less sensitive than others. And gory decor does not make the neighborhood “less safe” for children; that sort of hyperbole is not going to help the cause.

And to be honest, does the phrase “d*ck” really belong on an etiquette site? Especially in a discussion of what is fit for public use? When you get down to it, some might find the term “Storm Trooper” to be offensive or to trigger unhappy thoughts and memories, if you look up the origin of the term.

It is easy to point the finger at others but when we do so we should be ware of our own biases and insensitivities as well…

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another Laura October 14, 2014 at 2:03 pm

I would think it safe to think that parents often are more aware of what children find scary than people who don’t have kids. If a child has recurring nightmares because of something they are exposed to, it may be considered “unsafe” for them. I presume when using the term Storm Trooper to refer to a costume Lera99 means a character from Star Wars rather thsn WWI German soldiers.

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Lera99 October 14, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Hollyhock,

I referenced Wheaton’s law which is “Don’t be a dick”. That is why I specifically chose that word for the next sentence.

Also, I think people without kids often forget that kids live in their neighborhoods, apartment complexes, etc… They aren’t used to taking kids into account. So when they put up especially explicit, gruesome, violent, decorations – all they are thinking is “Awesome!” They aren’t even considering the 4 year old that lives 2 doors down. And they certainly aren’t the ones who are going to have to comfort the kid when he has a nightmare.

The Stormtrooper outfit is the outfit of the guys who fought besides Darth Vader in Star Wars. http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Stormtrooper

Also, I’ve been clear that people have the right to decorate their house and yard how they wish.

But I also have the right to think they are jerks if they cover their trees in hanging bodies and their lawns in bloody murder victims.

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cdubz October 20, 2014 at 8:38 am

Really? My dad puts up nastier decorations during Halloween than anyone I know, and he’s a grandfather! A good friend of mine, a mother herself, is obsessed with Halloween and gore and goes all out with the blood and body parts.

On the other hand, my husband and I, both childfree, hate gore and don’t decorate our house in such fashion. The most I’ll do is hang little jack o lantern lights.

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Tracy W October 15, 2014 at 5:19 am

, I do think it’s a bit much to imply that childfree people are less sensitive than others

The most annoying thing about motherhood is how sensitive I’ve become. I used to pride myself on iron-stomach and unflinching mind. I strongly suspect the change is hormonal.

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B October 14, 2014 at 4:12 pm

It is very sad that you believe childlessness might play a part in this.

Some of the worst, cruellest, stupidest people to children are parents.

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Lera99 October 14, 2014 at 6:00 pm

I don’t think people are being intentionally cruel when they decorate their yards like this.
I think it is likely they have never had to care for young children so they don’t understand the nightmares that can follow.

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B October 15, 2014 at 1:40 am

I think it is far more likely that a lot of these people DO have children, and that most of these children aren’t scared at all. But yes, your assumption that it’s likely these people are childfree is not very well phrased and comes off as thoughtless. I have several childless friends who would find that an incredibly hurtful thing to hear.

I also think it a little odd to expect anyone to ask themselves ‘will a stranger’s child find my decorations scary and have nightmares?’ I have issues with the sheer tastelessness going on here, but what scares my kid, or my kid’s nightmares, is not a stranger’s problem.

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Lera99 October 15, 2014 at 8:47 am

B.

I find it odd that people seem to think I’m accusing childless people of somehow being less human. I’m childless.

I’m simply observing that the people I’ve found who find these sorts of things acceptable were only children or the youngest kid (so they never had to take care of a younger sibling) who are adults now but have never had kids.

Since they have absolutely no history of having to take care of a young child, nor having to deal with the fall out when kids are exposed to something too scary for them, they are less likely to even think about kids while planning their decorations.

That doesn’t make them bad people. It’s just how it goes sometimes.

Like people who’ve never lived with someone in a wheelchair generally don’t notice the width of doorways or a 1 inch lip on a door threshold.

And people without kids generally don’t think “Hey, this realistic Ax Murder and decapitated victim with blood squirting from the neck may traumatize the 3 and 5 year old that live 3 houses down.”

What they think is “Awesome! Did you see how far the blood squirts when I turn on the pump? This is going to be the sweetest house in the neighborhood on Halloween!”

That’s not to say ALL people with gruesome Halloween decorations are childless. There are those people who think it’s ok to take their 8 year old to the SAW movies.

And not ALL childless people are completely oblivious to the fact we share the planet with young humans.

A different Tracy October 16, 2014 at 8:45 am

Even people who never had children were, at one time, children themselves. If such things would have scared them, they’d remember that. If such things didn’t scare them, presumably they don’t automatically assume they’ll scare other children as well. And one doesn’t have to be a parent to understand that young children can be scared easily.

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cdubz October 20, 2014 at 8:39 am

Yes, thank you A different Tracy! Some of the worst offenders I’ve met of Halloween gore are parents themselves.

Jaxsue October 14, 2014 at 6:13 pm

I agree with you, B.

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NostalgicGal October 14, 2014 at 8:29 pm

I’m an only and I never was blessed with children, by nature, by marriage, or by adoption. I still know that kids can’t hack some things, if nothing else I do remember my OWN childhood. That’s not an excuse Lera99. And as I outlined below, I used to be one of those that took a month to get the yard done up, and nothing overly gruesome. (I was usually one of the houses you HAD to do, and would see 300-400 children from 5-9 … or nearly everyone).

If you want to shock-rock someone do it in your backyard or in your house at your own party. About 20 years ago, I helped a younger semi-goth friend do about a 3 month run in for a truly gorror-party she wanted to hold; and it turned out fantastic and I think at least one person peed themselves… but. It was adults, invited, could decline the invite or leave after they got there, and it was IN her house and her garage. I didn’t attend so much as be part of the management to make sure everything went down, wrangled the food that night and helped spring some of the stuff. We took almost two weeks to clean up afterwards but that was the way you should do it if you want to get into the ugly.

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Lera99 October 16, 2014 at 8:18 am

NostalgicGal,

I’m offering a lack of experience with young children as a possible explanation – not as an excuse.
When people aren’t used to dealing with young children it is easy for them to simply not consider the impact on little kids.

Personally I find the rated R for blood, gore, and images of torture yards to be tasteless and awful. That said, it’s their yard and they have the right to do what they wish with it.

I prefer to think they are simply not considering little kids rather than thinking they are jerks intentionally trying to make kids cry and have nightmares.

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NostalgicGal October 16, 2014 at 12:37 pm

I can agree, with ‘consider your audience’ if you are going to do your front yard for public viewing. I do agree, some things are not ‘rated for all audiences’. And yes, I agree, that some things are over the top and should not be ‘at the street’ for anyone to see.

I understand the right of this (USA) is a free country and you may express yourself as you choose, and some of the holiday decorating may be ‘freedom of speech’. But there’s also ‘considerations of decency’. If you want a ‘scene from a horror/gorror movie’ decoration theme, do it behind your fence.

For a number of years I DID erect a temporary fence to control trespass of small people not paying attention and running as hard as they could in the dark to shortcut to the next house. It would not have been that much harder to add a sheet of black plastic (4mil) to that fence then put the worst that I wanted behind the fence. Drive by with your carful of kids, they can’t see it; walk onto property where access is allowed, and see the show. Then take it down and stow it for next year.

Don’t give the excuse that the person didn’t have siblings; or hasn’t had children of their own; that they are not aware of how some things will affect others (passive and probably unwilling audience). The comments on this forum are full of incidents reported where parents have been anything but. (pointing out the comment where some father took a six year old to Batman, she was screaming, crying, and freaking and scared at the pencil scene, and he told her to shut up instead of removing her from the theater, as just one case)

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Lisa H. October 14, 2014 at 9:37 am

I’m in my 50’s but growing up our decorations were pretty tame compared to today; green witches, evil pumpkins, Dracula, etc. but as a kid it was just fine! It’s a shame today’s kids have to be subjected to such gruesome carnage, but then that’s what’s on the TV and at the movies these days. I’m glad I grew up when I did.

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rachel October 14, 2014 at 7:06 pm

Movies from the 70s and 80s were just as gory and sadistic.

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Enna October 15, 2014 at 11:52 am

Some moveis from the 70s and 80s. Programmes like NCIS and CSI are very graphic with the dead bodies.

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yesbut October 15, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Those shows (NCIS and CSI) are geared towards adults and rated as such. It is up to the parents to actually do some parenting and prevent their child from accessing it.

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Really October 14, 2014 at 9:59 am

I am one of those people who put up scary decorations, this year we are doing a tribute to the Dr. In which my house was built for. He was acquitted after robbing a grave for its head in 1914. While some decorations do go too far (such as the people in the driveway) I don’t agree that decorations are too tied to “current” events. Its the passerby who was this distorted perception. The best part of Halloween for me was always the “scary” houses and refused to go to ones with no decorations. I do however impose an age limit for those doing the scaring. No child under the age of 6 is to be scared and we actually go out and talk to the kids and show them its fake. This seems like its one persons gripe rather than a true faux paus. This is no different than those who go overboard with their Christmas decorations which are just as tacky and gaudy as everything else

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Elsie October 14, 2014 at 10:05 am

Those types of decorations are fine for amusement parks and horror hsubted houses.

Front lawns can be scary without being gross or graphic, though.

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Elsie October 14, 2014 at 10:05 am

Haunted *

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Princess Buttercup October 14, 2014 at 10:05 am

I don’t celebrate death or glorrify deamons so halloween is not something I celebrate in general. If others want to participate, that is there issue but there is certainly a point where you are just being ignorant and offensive.
I am always disgusted by hangings in front yards. Over hundreds of years nearly every race has been hanged at some point, including a few races being victims of mass hangings just for existing. I know one should not be held hostage by the past but they also shouldn’t forget it.
I find it interesting in the first video that they have a bunch of crosses, a Christian symbol, then stuff worshipping death and deamons. Confused much?

A while back a “zombify yourself” app became popular. One could use it to put in a picture of themself and get back a version of themselves as a zombie. Rotting, hanging flesh, hanging eyes, blood, etc. A friend posted on facebook a picture of her little 5ish year old daughter as a mutilated zombie. That confused me greatly. How does one want their child to be dead and to be suffering and destroyed?!

How does one loose the distaste and respect for death like so many seem to have lost?

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Anonymous October 14, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Using the zombie app with a picture of your child doesn’t necessarily translate to “wanting your child to be dead and suffering and destroyed.” There are several reasons why she could have done it. Maybe the child wanted to do it, or maybe she wanted to dress as a zombie for Halloween, and the mother wanted ideas for her costume, because she wanted to actually engage with her child and collaborate on making a Halloween costume, as opposed to buying some mass-produced thing from Party City or whatever. My point is, it’s just a picture, and just for fun. Some people may not find it fun, and that’s fine, but there’s nothing wrong with it for people who do want to participate For (another) example, I’m terrified of roller coasters, but I’m not opposed to other people riding them–I just walk past those rides when I visit an amusement park, and I go to the water slide/wave pool area instead.

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Amanda H. October 15, 2014 at 2:02 pm

I’m not sure where “celebrating Halloween U.S.-style” equates to “celebrating death or glorifying demons.” I dress up in costume. I decorate my place and hand out candy to kids who dress in costume. I watch a scary movie with my husband. Where’s the death-celebration or the demon-glorifying in that?

Or even, given the video, how do two (admittedly gruesome) fake dead bodies equate to worshipping death and demons? It’s kind of tasteless, sure, but I don’t think it’s as extreme as you make it out to be. I really am confused here.

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DGS October 14, 2014 at 10:30 am

How very disturbing and distasteful.

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Kovi October 14, 2014 at 10:30 am

“Every one of those “decorations” has a strong connection to recent events worldwide…”

I’m really not seeing the connection to ‘recent events’, unless you’re forcing it. Many of those displays are ones that I’ve been seeing online or in person for years. A fake child skeleton doesn’t mean that someone is trying to get you to think of Casey Anthony.

Personally, I love horror, and anything creep-tastic. It’s October – I’d be shocked if anyone I knew saw those scenes and somehow, even for a split second, thought that they were real (ditto for the dog video that was here earlier, which I found to be pretty funny, I won’t lie). Around here at least, seeing Halloween decorations are as normal as seeing lights up at Christmas.

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manybellsdown October 14, 2014 at 10:48 am

Yeah, most of the decorations they sell don’t fall into the category of “spooky” or “scary” to me, just into “gross”. I love Halloween, but I don’t see anything interesting about spending $500 on an animatronic zombie eating a severed arm. Gross-out has become synonymous with scary, somehow.

I did see a neat decoration yesterday, though. It looked like a statue but had motion-activated animation. Think “weeping angel” from Doctor Who. Now that might actually be scary!

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Library Diva October 14, 2014 at 11:59 am

I know what you mean. I like clever decorations. We have a doormat that creaks and howls when you step on it, a motion-activated flying ghost that moans, a strobe light that makes sounds, flashing eyes that also make sounds (to make a haunted hedge) and large, glow-in-the-dark googly eyes for a window or door. We turned my double shepherd’s crook into a grim reaper using a skull stake light, a vinyl cape, and a bunch of zip ties. I’m a big fan of the “splatted witch” decorations, and last night, I saw a “gutter ghost” for sale that is 18 feet long and is meant to attach to the gutter of a second-story home and trail almost to the ground.

I love unexpected, cool, spooky decorations. I’ve always respected the people who have the talent, skill and creativity to make their own. When I was a child, there was a man in the next town over who made his own wooden Christmas lawn cutouts. He must have had several hundred of them on his lawn. He lit them, had soft music playing, and hung up a charity box to collect for a local children’s hospital. (Sadly, one year the box got stolen. This, combined with old age, crushed his Christmas spirit. He stopped putting up the cutouts and died a few years later. I never pass his house without wondering what became of all his stuff). I agree with you — what’s original about spending a small fortune on things like animatronic zombies?

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manybellsdown October 15, 2014 at 9:40 am

I live on a corner near an elementary school, so I keep my decorations low-key. 40 or 50 kids walk by my yard (sometimes through my yard) every day. The crossing guard stands right there. Not only do I not want to freak out kindergarteners, I don’t want to spend hundreds on stuff that might get destroyed. Styrofoam tombstones and some big sparkly spiders are the limit of my “scary”.

I’m also one of the Samhain celebrators. It’s like Dia de los Muertos. A time for remembering the dead we’ve lost.

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Calli Arcale October 14, 2014 at 11:30 am

I greatly enjoy Halloween, and I think it’s fun to decorate the place — but there is such a thing as good taste, and being aware that there are young ones around, and that things can be mistaken for other things. Cheezy scares are what I’d expect to see around the outside of a house, with the maximum scare level being roughly on par with Disney’s Haunted Mansion. Bonus points for humor, like punning gravestones. Given that election day is less than a week after Halloween, I always decorate our skeleton as a politician running for office. It’s a realistic skeleton purchased from a medical school supply shop, but dress him up in a suit and a star-spangled hat, with a sign saying “Mr Bones for Senate” and he’s not really scary. We have fun coming up with new goofy campaign slogans for him every year.

When I was a kid, we put on a spook house in our garage, and some of the scares were fairly gruesome — but the key is that you didn’t *have* to go in. And that’s how it should be. Everybody has a different threshold, and Halloween is supposed to be *fun*, not traumatizing.

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Wild Irish Rose October 14, 2014 at 11:32 am

I don’t go to haunted houses because I have the ability to scare the bejeebers out of myself, so I don’t see the need to pay someone else to do it. That said, I’m with Admin on this. A nearby neighbor has pumpkins stacked snowman-style, the top one with a scary face. It’s harmless and obviously a nod to Halloween. I rarely decorate for Halloween because ours is not one of the ritzy neighborhoods where kids can find the “good” candy (and that’s another Halloween issue that makes me mad, but I digress). But if I did, you can bet that the decorations would be the campy Halloween stuff like ghosts made of sheets, a witch who has driven her broom into the side of a tree, lots of jack-o’-lanterns (LOVE those!), and black cats everywhere.

Ages ago, some neighbors of ours in an apartment building made a jack-o’-lantern out of a watermelon. It didn’t last more than a few days, but it was hilarious.

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JD October 14, 2014 at 11:39 am

My husband and I were just discussing this the other day. Halloween is not even a holiday (and the word holiday comes from “holy day”, I’ve been told). Halloween is All Hallow’s Eve — the night before a feast day, All Saints Day, which my denomination celebrates as a holy day at church. Perhaps psychologists could explain this increase in faked horror scenes at the same time we see a steady diet of real horror on TV news on in our own communities; maybe it is a deadening of the senses, or a way to deal with it? But I know I DON’T want to see gore and horror put right in my face. I don’t want to drive by with a young child or grandchild and have to explain that little scene in the Jones’ front yard. My husband stated years ago that no horror/gore/slasher film would ever enter our home (I happily agreed), so you can imagine how he feels about having it thrust on us in people’s yards. I find it distasteful at best, and would love to see this trend end.

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Betty October 15, 2014 at 6:39 am

Halloween is also a derivation of Samhain, which is a holy day to Pagans.

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Cat October 14, 2014 at 11:48 am

I fail to understand the current fad of the undead trying to munch upon the still living. It was fun when the neighbor kid’s dad put on a sheet and chased us around the yard. We could see his pant legs and knew his voice. Pumpkins made into jack o’lanterns were nice decorations and nothing more.
Now I have been exposed to young men who want to be vampires and who drink animal blood. Satanists want to hold a Black Mass at a leading university. (This is not my idea of education. Practice your faith at your house of worship and leave me out of it.) Next we will be drowning women to discover if they are witches or not.

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Lis October 14, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Well, it won’t be the Satanists who are drowning women to see if they are witches.

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Cat October 14, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Well, no. I doubt that Satanists would believe in witches. I do wish they would keep their hands off our Blessed Sacrament and desecrate something else during their masses.

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Lenore October 16, 2014 at 3:56 am

Actually, Satanism is not about desecrating other religions or human sacrifice, just like Christianity is not about stoning women or priest who are pedophiles. Just like Christianity is about love for your fellow man and respecting others, Satanism is about compassion, self autonomy, and learning from your mistakes. True Satanists do not condone the suppression of the beliefs of others, nor the freedoms of others.

The vocal minority of various religions that give them a bad name (Al Qaeda, Westboro Baptist Church etc) do not represent the whole of that belief system – and that applies to Christianity, Islam, Satanism, Atheism, Wicca etc. By all means, denounce those that leave a dirty smear on a belief system, but don’t write it off because of the actions of the few.

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jen d. October 14, 2014 at 7:59 pm

I wish this site had a “like” button.

Just a question, Cat: do the Satanists at your uni want to have a public practice, or just use the facilities to hold a black mass? My alma mater often allowed many different faiths (especially those from denominations that weren’t very mainstream) to meet on their grounds. It was always an optional event.

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rachel October 14, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Zombies have been a popular thing since the 60s. More recently with the Walking Dead going on its 4th season, the zombie craze is at an all-time high. Satan worship was also a huge thing in the 60s. There’s nothing more shocking about this generation than the last.

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Jaxsue October 14, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Well said, Lis and rachel.

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Cat October 14, 2014 at 6:56 pm

I remember the 1960’s very well. The huge thing in my sixties was the anti Viet Nam movement, the civil rights movement, the counter-culture. race riots, and integration of schools in the South (my high school integrated during my senior year-1966-67).
No one I knew was interested in Satanism. They were fascinated by LSD and Timothy Leary, the Black Panthers, the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society for you youngsters). and black lights/love beads/body painting/long hair on guys/communes.
This generation can’t hold a candle to mine. We were out there in the streets making a better world. This generation is on its cell phones- texting. We wonder how our grand kids turned out this way.

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thequietkid October 14, 2014 at 9:54 pm

I’m sorry, but this is a bit offensive. There are plenty of outstanding young people today. And there were just as many kids in your generation who only wanted drugs and sex and didn’t give a hoot about anything else.

To be frank /you/ raised our parents. Maybe if your peers had come in off the streets, stopped free lovin’ everyone, and focused on instilling values into the following generation, they’d have been able to raise us properly. Oops, I’m sorry…was that a generalization?

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Wild Irish Rose October 15, 2014 at 9:04 am

Amen to thequietkid.

Jaxsue October 15, 2014 at 11:24 am

I have to agree with thequietkid. I am a late boomer and parent to 2 millenials. I don’t agree with the vast overgeneralizations regarding the latter generation. Admittedly, I was more of the disco end of boomers (much too young to march and protest), but I don’t like the inter-generational sniping.

Library Diva October 15, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Very well said, QuietKid. In addition, what’s so terrible about texting? Look around in any public place, and you’ll see people of all ages vigorously engaged in it.

Every generation since Plato’s time has looked down on its successors. Why, *we* were respectful and serious-minded, we had manners and intellect and good taste, unlike THESE YOUNG RUFFIANS. In fact, the term “The Generation Gap” was invented precisely to describe the split between the boomers and their parents. It’s a good thing for people of all ages to keep in mind as they get older.

jazzgirl205 October 15, 2014 at 9:46 am

It’s easy to think that, isn’t it? Well, to give you a better outlook, I’ll tell you about my 16 yo dd. She makes straight A’s, has volunteered at the library, worked to provide homes for the poor, volunteered taking care of chickens and goats at a farm, taught CCD classes, passed out food to poor children and helped with the bookmobile. She even saved a child’s life.

We need to keep from generalizing. Remember what the old folks used to say about your generation?

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just4kicks October 19, 2014 at 7:54 am

Bravo, Jazz Girl!!!
My oldest son in a senior in high school, plays baseball, volunteers for an organization that teaches baseball to handicapped kids, works an 30 hour a week job, has a 3.9 gpa, and has just committed to the U. Of Pittsburg. He received scholarships for athletics and academics. He also has a lovely girlfriend and does his grandparents yard work on weekends. While my husband and I would like to take all the credit, we simply can’t. This is a very self motivated young man whom we are very proud of, and all of his accomplishments are his own. He has set the bar pretty high for his younger brothers and sister. I am proud to say he will make a difference in this world.
Many congratulations to you, Jazz Girl, on your wonderful daughter, who sounds like she will set the world on fire with her contributions!

MyFamily October 15, 2014 at 11:08 am

I work at a high school and your comments are incredibly offensive. One of the most coveted camp jobs for the students at my school is at a camp where the counselors are actually volunteers, and the campers are children with special needs. One of this year’s winners of the Noble Peace Prize is 17. Google ‘teens making a difference’ and you’ll find pages of examples of teens working to make a difference in the world – not just getting high and yelling canned lines at the establishment.

Oh, and really, LSD is better than texting??

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NostalgicGal October 16, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Both do seem to be addictive.

I have friends and acquaintances that think I have two heads or something because I don’t text. I will either sit at the computer and email you, Skype you, or use my fancyphone and CALL you. Oh. Or see you in person and actually talk to you. Having my phone nag me any more than it does because you can type on that ittybitty keyboard and blather snippets at me all day and I will put it under my car’s tire.

I can suss it, Cat, that the difference between then and now is that people were more PERSONALLY socially interactive. I’m not sure our brave new world of glued-to-the-small-screen is going to be positive… and yes. I know many fine and exceptional members of the up and coming generation; a credit to their parents, schools, communities…. and I know some that are a waste of oxygen. I can point back to previous generations; same thing. Bravo to those that DO.

Library Diva October 14, 2014 at 11:50 am

I think that the decoration shown on Daily Kos would not have raised comment if there wasn’t a terrorist group conducting beheadings in the news right now. The one in Minnesota was pretty over-the-top.

But I wonder how the group feels about this: growing up, there was a house located on a main road. My elementary school was located on a road just off this road, diagonal from this house. An avid hunter lived in the house and several years in a row, would hang a dead deer from the tree in his front yard. I don’t hunt, so I don’t really know why — to drain the blood, perhaps? This was on the main approach to the elementary school. Hundreds of children passed it twice a day. It would be up for several days at a time. I found it very disturbing, because it was real. I don’t think he should have been allowed to do this.

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deary October 14, 2014 at 12:52 pm

This is an integral part of hunting. The meat is hung for several days to tenderize it. Why should it be any more upsetting than walking down the meat aisle in the supermarket?

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Kirst October 14, 2014 at 3:07 pm

There have been reports in the British press recently of people making complaints about butcher shops having carcasses hanging up where people can see them.

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Lanes October 14, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Because small children recognise and empathise with whole animals before they learn and understand where cuts of meat come from.

That said, I still don’t want to watch my own steak get butchered from the cow as an adult.

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delislice October 14, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Seriously? You don’t see a difference between walking down the meat aisle and seeing a headless bloody deer hanging in a tree?

Yes, deer need to be hung. Most people do that in the garage or back yard to avoid traumatizing the neighbors. I would probably drive off the road in shock and disgust if I saw a deer carcass hanging from a tree.

Most packages in the meat aisle don’t look like Bambi.

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rachel October 14, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Hyperbole much? What do you do when you see roadkill?

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Kirst October 17, 2014 at 12:41 pm

I’m not talking about meat packaged on shelves in supermarkets. I’m talking about butcher’s shops, with whole carcasses hanging where they can be seen from the street. I think it’s a ridiculous complaint (and I’ve been vegetarian for over 20 years). If you want to eat meat, accept it’s dead animal.

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Jaxsue October 14, 2014 at 6:23 pm

I grew up in a community that had a large number of hunters/fisherman. Seeing deer in different stages of “processing” was quite common. I understand people not liking this, but when you grow up with it you generally accept it. Now my son lives in a NY commuity with a large Hasidic population. They teach their yeshiva students the kosher way to slaughter livestock. It is often done in full view of neighbors. It upsets people, which is understandable. Ironically, I can deal with the former, not so much the latter.

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Calli Arcale October 15, 2014 at 11:30 am

It depends on where you are, but I think a deer carcass being hung is in a totally different ballpark from the realistic fake human corpses being hung. I would expect people to hang it out of sight, because it’s rather unsightly, but at least it’s part of the normal process of food prep. The fake corpses have no such excuse.

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NostalgicGal October 14, 2014 at 8:33 pm

@deary, just the location is the issue. We always hung our carcasses (steers or deer or whatever) in a garage, shed, or barn; not out in the front yard in plain sight of everyone. Location, location, location!

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Jaxsue October 15, 2014 at 12:36 pm

I also think location matters. I do not hunt, but if I did I wouldn’t hang the carcass in full view in my n’hood. 🙂

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Magicdomino October 15, 2014 at 2:00 pm

I’d be worried about animals nibbling on the deer. Let’s not even discuss what the birds in the tree are doing. A shed would be more sanitary.

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Amanda H. October 15, 2014 at 3:09 pm

I’m inclined to agree with this sentiment, and the previous one pointing out that there’s a difference between hanging a deer (part of food prep) and hanging a fake corpse (meant to elicit shock). The problem isn’t so much that the hunter was hanging a deer, as it is that he was doing so in full view of an elementary school, where not every child is necessarily used to that sort of thing.

My father hunted, and also once had to slaughter live chickens for something. He generally kept his food prep out of sight both of the main road and my sisters and I (as he did most of his hunting when we were rather young), because he knew it could still be disconcerting, even disturbing, to see. He didn’t prevent us from going to the back yard to watch if we wanted, but he didn’t do it out in front where everyone could see, either.

As for butcher shops, I think it’s kind of silly to see that as disturbing, mostly because in my experience by the time it’s hung in view in a butcher shop, it’s stopped looking like a deer or a cow or whatever and looks more like what you’d find in the meat section of the market, so (to me, at least) a lot of the disturbing factor has disappeared. At that point, it’s just meat.

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CW October 14, 2014 at 11:53 am

My dad used to put on Halloween masks and jump out of our closets. I watched “scary” movies when I was 8 (think Jason and Halloween). In college, I worked at a Halloween event as a zombie and scared people for a paycheck and even came across small children who were more curious than scared. Teach your kid what is real and what is fake. While I don’t have anything “scary” hanging up, I’m not decorating my house to please you, I’m decorating it to please me. If that makes me rude and mean, that’s totally fine. Personally, I don’t like seeing 1000 nativity scenes every Christmas, but I’m not going to tell you to take it off your lawn.

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Northlight October 14, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Thank you! I watched horror movies from a young age too. I learned what was real and what was not. No nightmares necessary because Freddy was not, in fact, going to enter my dreams and kill me. Similarly, Jason was not going to attack me and Chucky was just a ridiculous looking doll.

Now then, the child’s prayer that included “if I should die before I wake” terrified me. It had never occurred to me that dying in my sleep was an actual thing that could happen before someone taught me that prayer. I barely slept for days before my mom figured out what was wrong.

In short, talk to your kids. Teach them what is real and what isn’t. Halloween is actually a great time to do this because there are so many Not Real creepy things around.

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Jaxsue October 14, 2014 at 6:24 pm

This.

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NostalgicGal October 14, 2014 at 8:40 pm

I can agree here too. 11 and they were actually enforcing movie rating codes, I seen the Exorcist with my mom. I don’t know what dad was more upset about, the fact that mom wanted to see it (not alone) and took me (who did want to see it); the fact she had nightmares for a few nights and he had to sleep with her; or the fact I didn’t have nightmares. I’ll take a nativity on your lawn rather than living across the street from a family that puts 15,000 strands of lights up and leaves them on all night because people drive by to look (so there is heavy traffic from dark until who knows every night too).

What is real and fake is good, but still, the issue is overly graphic for the average. The one listed above with the driven over dummy and blood is a little over the top.

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Calli Arcale October 15, 2014 at 11:32 am

I think it would be okay for communities to draw the line at things that could reasonably be mistaken for crime scenes, as that has happened and does cause problems for law enforcement.

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Anonymous October 16, 2014 at 6:38 am

Yeah, that’s a good benchmark. I’d add “anything that could reasonably be mistaken for a crime scene, or an emergency,” so that’d also preclude the “dummy hanging from the roof/fallen off the ladder hanging Christmas lights” thing, as well as hanging victims in trees. People could still do hanging scenes of imaginary monsters (so, old clothing plus a stuffed monster mask or real or plastic pumpkin head), but nothing that looks like a person. Other than that, I don’t think there should be too many rules enforced, because either people won’t remember all of them, or they’ll complain about having Halloween “taken away.” By the way, I forget, did I ever tell you guys about the time my childhood best friend went to a church Halloween party where everyone had to dress as a fruit or vegetable?

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Calli Arcale October 16, 2014 at 11:59 am

Oh, that sounds like a hoot. I love themed costume parties. 😉 It brings out my creative sparks. Just so long as no one goes as a durian, with authentic scent.

NostalgicGal October 16, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Veggie Tales?

NostalgicGal October 16, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Oh gods, goddesses, little fishes and disposer breath… Calli… oh that stuff is HORRID. There is a reason airlines ban those from flying (you can’t bring any aboard and some don’t allow them in luggage either). Durians are a love or hate thing but you have to totally wonder about someone that loves them, if you’ve ever even been downwind of a fruit.

Lady Macbeth October 14, 2014 at 10:13 pm

Thank you for that last sentence.

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another Laura October 15, 2014 at 7:06 am

I’m not expecting strangers to decorate their yards to please me. But I do expect to be able to drive my children down a street without them seeing realistic looking dead babies hanging from trees while ax wielding zombies are eating the brains out of some other child. These are just the most gruesome images I could think of off the top of my head, not something I’ve seen. Just like I expect to be able to take my kids to the park without seeing a naked couple having sex there. It seems like a reasonsble expectation. For those of you who say you watched horror movies when you were a kid, define “kid.” My four year old is very smart but she does’t really understand the difference between real and fake yet. And we have explained it many times.

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NostalgicGal October 15, 2014 at 10:42 am

Before grade school is definitely too small for a lot of the horror/gorror I agree. And I agree too, on being able to walk down a residential or drive by on street; and not have a very explicit scene that would fit a gorror/horror movie out in the open. When I was decorating to the hilt for my front yard displays (and making yard safe on that night) I didn’t need anything that graphic to still make a good display and a yard that was on the ‘have to visit’ list.

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Zepheera October 15, 2014 at 8:41 am

ITA

I watched all the classic scary movies as I was growing up, starting before I can even remember. I know for a fact that I watched Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984/85 when I was about 3 years old, because I have a photograph of my brother, my dad, and I with it showing on the television.

I grew up with parents who taught me what was real and what wasn’t, and weren’t afraid to answer any question I had about anything I saw. My sister raises her children the same way; I have nieces and nephews ranging from 2-8 years old, and if any of them were trick or treating and saw these decorations in the OP, they wouldn’t be fazed by it.

I still remember some of the more involved halloween decorated houses that I went to, and every single one that I remember was because they gave me that scary thrill of excitement. Cute and happy is great, but it’s not to everyone’s taste either.

During Christmas, I drive around to look at the intricate lights and holiday decor; During Halloween, I love seeing the people who go all out for that too.

You know what scared me growing up? The evening news.

Still does.

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Wild Irish Rose October 15, 2014 at 9:10 am

Dismembered bodies and severed heads are worlds apart from Nativity scenes. I can’t believe you would even try to compare the two. I never liked gory movies because I don’t really care to see people die in creative ways, but that’s just me, and the theaters where they are shown don’t have huge outdoor screens that I can’t avoid seeing. You are certainly within your rights to decorate your house however you see fit, but you have no way of knowing that I wasn’t traumatized by stumbling over a rotting corpse in a field, and I submit that you really don’t have the right to reawaken that horror with your tacky decorations.
My take on Halloween in general is that it’s a fun time to step outside your comfort zone and “be” someone or something else for a few hours. Anything can be taken to stupid extremes, but I don’t think it’s right to impose sickening images on anyone.

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admin October 15, 2014 at 1:13 pm

The problem I have with far too realistic Halloween displays is that I know these atrocities have happened in history and are still happening right now. People are still being flayed alive, beheaded, tortured in gruesome ways and I don’t prefer to be reminded that some humans are pure evil.

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CW October 15, 2014 at 1:34 pm

You also have no way of knowing that I may have been traumatized by any number of things. What if my childhood involved a horrific incident at a church around Christmas? Then would I have a “right” to be offended or horrified at a Nativity? People can be traumatized by anything. Admin pointed out she knows someone who is horrified by cockroaches. People are freaked out by dogs, cats, spiders, babies, weapons, church, etc. Do I have to ask every single person who drives down my block what bothers them so I can promptly remove it from my yard? Oh, sorry puppies, I can’t let you outside because that little girl MIGHT be traumatized by you. Sorry hubby, we can’t put up that flag your mom gave us because it MIGHT offend somebody. Oh thanks Mom, but the clearly plastic zombie flamingos you gave me better stay in the garage because my neighbor had a freak accident with birds once.

Sorry, no. Not happening.

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Wild Irish Rose October 16, 2014 at 9:44 am

Okay, then let me put it to you THIS way: Dismembered/headless corpses, entrails all over the place, blood splattered everywhere, “bodies” lying under cars . . . these are all things that promote and celebrate the evil in men’s hearts. People actually do these horrific things to other human beings, and displaying it for “fun” makes a mockery of the victims of such crimes, and their families. A Nativity scene is a form of celebration and acknowledgment of love and salvation, whether you choose to believe it or not. The other things you mention (puppies, flags, flamingoes) are just your childish way of defending gruesome images of disrespect and disregard for human life, and have absolutely ZERO relevance in this conversation. You don’t have to agree with me. You don’t have to like Nativity scenes and you can complain all you want about people putting those in their yards, and I get that. But sharing the love of God with your neighbors by displaying a Nativity scene is a far cry from displaying gory crime victims as if that’s just fun. It’s not. It is, as I said, disrespectful and shows a serious lack of regard for human life. As for protecting small children from these images, yes, you’d have to tell them what it is. But you DON’T have to tell a teenager or an adult, and some of us are sensitive enough not to think such images are entertaining. Feel free to decorate the inside of your house and your backyard with real dead things if you like, but don’t expect me to think you’re clever by putting them out in your front yard where I may not have a choice not to see it. And do NOT compare these kinds of displays with Christmas displays. They are NOT the same.

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CW October 16, 2014 at 6:42 pm

I was actually using your reference to being traumatized. The post about the spider dog sparked the debate on PTSD and what qualifies and such. Just as one person may feel they were traumatized by spiders or decapitated bodies or big dogs or lizards (or whatever you consider to be a “reasonable” thing to be traumatized by), another may feel equally as traumatized by a crucifix or a baby Jesus or kittens or cotton candy. You cannot predict what every single person down the street may or may not be offended by or find gruesome and unappealing. THAT was my point. A flashing light display at Christmas might give a passerby a seizure. A yard full of lawn gnomes may give a kid nightmares. The point is, you don’t know and you cannot make every person happy. /Obviously/ a horror or Halloween scene may make a larger number of people unhappy but if you expect every person to walk down their street and double check with their entire neighborhood what will or will not upset them, then you clearly have more time on your hands then I do.

I respect human life, I also find zombies and slasher films amusing. I watch crime shows like CSI and Dexter. They’re fake. Fiction. Not real. I watch the news and see what humans do to each other. I know how to shoot a gun and use a knife as a weapon and you better believe I will if I need to. But I can tell the difference between corn syrup and real blood. I can tell the difference between bone and PVC pipe. I can separate Halloween from reality.

CW October 15, 2014 at 10:20 am

I do an awful lot of driving and riding around and some of that happens to be in residential areas. Considering myself, as a driver or a passenger, and what I can feasibly see from the car, I can’t make out half the details of people’s yard “scenes” at 20 mph from 10-20 feet away. I’d have to get out of the car, walk to their sidewalk or driveway and look at individual pieces. I couldn’t tell you if that’s a zombie on your porch or a scarecrow. Now, please tell me how a 6 yr old is really going to know it’s a severed head hanging from a tree or a crazed lunatic with a knife unless you tell them that’s what it is?

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Hollyhock October 17, 2014 at 12:39 pm

This is a really good point and I was wondering the same thing. I have to strain to get the details of the tableaus that are emerging in my neighborhood and I wonder how a child strapped into a car seat in a vehicle traveling that fast would absorb enough to be traumatized for nights to come.

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NostalgicGal October 18, 2014 at 12:13 am

As you come up on something as a passenger, you have more time to see something. That one display where the half figure is over the cauldron; the child in the seat looks out as they go by and that’s where their gaze lands, they could get more than a few seconds look. And that’s the thing that sears in.

When you’re driving you have more to distract you and the stuff to the side that is ‘non car, non traffic, non stuff in road you have to worry about’ may be missed. The perception of road and what’s alongside that you’re passing may be radically different depending on if you’re driving or sitting passively in the vehicle!

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JAN October 20, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Where I live most of the elementary school children walk to school.

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kingsrings October 14, 2014 at 12:17 pm

I’ve seen some kid zombies that have looked okay. I think it’s all in the make-up they have. Some have even looked downright cute! I love Halloween and everything about it. The candy, the decorations, the scary films. But I love the classic, traditional Halloween decorations and wouldn’t go for the graphic, gory ones talked about by the admin.

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MsCopper October 14, 2014 at 1:36 pm

I love Halloween. Everything about it. Movies, Theme parks, Costumes, And the pranks. All of it. My Mom and Dad always loved it as well. I watch and dvr most of the horror movies. The gorier the better. My Dad and I used to watch them together and he would always tell me that it was was fiction and to not be afraid. I never was. If I want to decorate my house all creepy and gory it’s my prerogative. I don’t do it to scare children and it certainly isn’t my job to police what children see and hear. That is the job of the parent. I don’t do it to mean and scare the chiiiiiiiillldreeen. I do it for me, my family, and my friends. All of the neighborhood kids seem to love it anyway. I go through two to three costco size bags of candy every year! I could care less about any other holiday. Well, except for Thanksgiving. 🙂

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Wild Irish Rose October 15, 2014 at 9:13 am

I don’t do it to scare children and it certainly isn’t my job to police what children see and hear. That is the job of the parent.

Yup, you’re right. However, if your gory decorations are next door to my house, how can I possibly prevent my children from seeing them? You have now stuck me with comforting a child who has seen something I would prefer he hadn’t.

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Lady Macbeth October 16, 2014 at 5:04 am

“It certainly isn’t my job to police what children see and hear. That is the job of the parent.”

Well said. I wish more parents would take responsibility for that fact. I understand that a parent cannot sensor everything a child sees – as there is a large amount of unpredictability to life – but I sincerely would like if people would stop placing blame on others for something that they may actually have control of on their own end.

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admin October 16, 2014 at 8:02 am

Precisely how is a parent supposed to “police” what their children see in a neighbor’s front yard? Keep them indoors the entire month of October? Blindfold them when in the car? One cannot put a gory Halloween display in the front yard and then blameshift the entire responsibility to parents when children find it disturbing or the parents do not wish their children to be exposed to seeing that.

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Peas October 16, 2014 at 8:55 am

Or just explain to them it’s not real and they are safe and this is part of how some people celebrate Halloween…

MsCopper October 16, 2014 at 10:32 am

I wish I had a front yard. I live in the city. I do have a front stoop. All I have are Zombies, Ghosts, and Spiders. And an eerie door knocker. The real horror show is inside. I do dress up every year. My downstairs neighbors do as well. My Whole neighborhood gets in on the action. A guy down the street rents a popcorn machine. We even have kids coming from two to three towns away! My point was is that I am not going to stop doing something I love because someone somewhere may get offended. We’ve become a society where people have taken offense to every little thing. Kids are going to be exposed to a lot of things in their lifetime. Swearing, smoking, drinking, scary movies. And even more unsavory things than that. Parents need to explain and talk to their children. The world can’t be expected to walk on eggshells.

B October 16, 2014 at 10:54 am

They can explain it to their kids and take the fear away.

I have to do that with my kids all the time, it is impossible to stop children seeing things I’d rather they didn’t, but I certainly don’t expect everyone to take them into account, or be all upset months and months later that my child was upset by someone’s stupid decorations.

The ‘it takes a village’ approach never works.

just4kicks October 14, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Years ago, on America’s funniest videos, they showed a dad scaring the ever loving’ crap out of his two sons. The preteen youngsters had fallen asleep watching “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, and dear old dad thought it would be just HILARIOUS to put on a hockey mask and stand in the middle of their shared room the next morning firing up a real chainsaw to wake them up! I thought the poor kids were going to have a heart attack. They both jumped up screaming and ran out of the room. At the end of the video, when the man revealed it was their dad, you can hear one of them yelling, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?” Not funny in the least…..

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Kirst October 14, 2014 at 1:58 pm

The irresponsible thing there is letting pre-teen children watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre. That’s ridiculous.

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kingsrings October 14, 2014 at 3:02 pm

I remember that episode well. The dad did it to teach his kids a lesson to not stay up late and watch horror films. They all were okay with it, especially given that it was allowed to be on the show and I believe it won the grand prize.

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lizza October 14, 2014 at 4:27 pm

I saw that too. Or something like it anyway – in the one I saw, it was a punishment because the kids weren’t allowed/supposed to watch movies like that and got caught doing so. Which isn’t the best punishment, but I thought it was kind of clever.

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just4kicks October 15, 2014 at 3:06 am

If it was a lesson being taught, mission accomplished. I guess my thought was it was a real chainsaw, what if one of the kids tripped and fell into it trying to get away? Or knocked the dad over, sending the blade into his own leg or worse. A lot of physical damage could have been done, thank God none was.

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Peas October 15, 2014 at 8:52 am

You take the chain off the chainsaw.

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wren October 15, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Correct. I visited a haunted house where patrons had to exit from the basement, only to find a guy with a “chainsaw” partially blocking the gentle slope that led up and out of the cellar. If you just walked by, he kind of mugged for you and revved his saw, but if you ran and were willing to go with it, you could do some good impromptu acting. He was really good at reading people. I had him chase me all over the place and I screamed a lot. There were picnic tables and a snack bar set up nearby, lots of people watching us — really fun. My teenage children laughed their heads off and applauded us. Good memories.

Calli Arcale October 15, 2014 at 11:33 am

I hope the chain was removed first. (You can get the sound without the danger that way.) Never mess around with chainsaws. Or any power tool, really.

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The TARDIS October 15, 2014 at 10:42 pm

Yup, that is how you do it. There is someone in my neighborhood who does the chainsaw thing on Halloween and the chain is off the saw when he revs it to thrill visitors. We love it.

just4kicks October 16, 2014 at 6:40 am

Good to know! I didn’t know you could remove the chain and it would still “fire up”. And, I’m sure the dad (hopefully anyway!) would not put his kids in any real danger for the purpose of a prank or a lesson.

True story: my Dear Dad came home stinking drunk once in his late teens, I must add he and his friends walked that night, no drunk driving. Anyway, my poor grandma heard him violently vomiting and woke up my grandpa saying “Come quick! Johnny has food poisoning!” My grandpop said as soon as he walked into the bathroom, he could smell the liquor. He told grandma he would handle it and sent her off back to sleep. He waited until my dad was done being sick, and said “come down to the kitchen with me….NOW!!!” He then lit a big, fat cigar and poured a juice glass up to the rim with whiskey. He told my dad, “you may go to sleep once you drink all the whiskey, and finish smoking the cigar…..since apparently you like to drink and smoke so much!” My dad said he got the glass up to his nose, and ran to the sink to vomit some more. My grandfather poured the booze down the sink and extinguished the cigar, and said to my dad, “NOW….you may go to bed.” To this day, my dad cannot stand the smell of hard liquor, and hasn’t touch a drop since that night.

Angel October 14, 2014 at 2:11 pm

I think sometimes the Halloween decorations can go too far. I hate gory things so I didn’t even watch the video. But I certainly wouldn’t want to live across the street from somebody who put decorations of that nature on their front lawn. In my neighborhood the worst of it are some tombstones, skeletons and creepy flashing lights. The most popular décor is still the carved pumpkins–some of them can get pretty elaborate. That is my favorite Halloween decoration and I have bought the stencils to create funky designs. I guess I don’t see Halloween as creepy, scary or gory, I just like fun and creative. I know that the gory stuff isn’t real and all that, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I have the right to not look at gory stuff when I am walking around my neighborhood!

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NostalgicGal October 14, 2014 at 8:47 pm

My best was the year my mother dictated the Halloween pumpkin was going to become Thanksgiving pie, so don’t carve it. 13 year old me spent two hours drawing a face on it with a black marker… it had one ‘fang’ hanging down out of the mouth, and the eyes focused on a spot in space, with this sort of malevolent contemplation of fanging you perhaps. When put on the floor just inside our front door, if you were about 8-10 years old it stared you in the eye. I scared quite a few who then had comments about how neat and stuff like that. Simple. Me, a marker, and a pumpkin. Black and orange. That’s when it’s fun.

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Calli Arcale October 15, 2014 at 11:35 am

You can make Thanksgiving pie out of a carved pumpkin. Just make sure you wait until Oct 30 to carve it, so it’s not sitting out too long after carving, cook it on Nov 1, and then freeze it until you’re ready to start your Thanksgiving baking. I do it most years. 😉 The only downside is that carving pumpkins don’t usually taste as good as baking pumpkins.

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NostalgicGal October 15, 2014 at 1:42 pm

We used to put candles in our carved ones, up until my mid teens (and have to carve the chimney notch in the back of the ‘lid’ to get it to draw correctly and burn) and I figured out how to run an extension cord and a night light to light it up (the sensor ones for on at dark off at dusk are GREAT for this, you can stick a piece of leftover carving discard in front of it and at the right distance it will make it flicker, plus it hides the light. USE ul approved everything, plug into a GFI or GFCI, and carve from the bottom (cut the bottom out instead of around the top stem… pumpkin will also be thinner on the bottom!)) Even if I carved it on the 31st by the next day it was pretty sad, so it was no-carve if it was to be pie. On carve from the bottom, then you could rig your light wiring then set the pumpkin on top onto the base, just remember to cut a notch out back for the cord.

The carvers are usually bland-er, if you adjust your spicing you can get a good taste. The pie pumpkins have a better finer texture cooked up though.

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Calli Arcale October 16, 2014 at 12:02 pm

It occurs to me that location may be important. If yours got nasty in less than a day, maybe you live somewhere warmer than me. I live in Minnesota; it’s usually in the 40s here on Halloween, and overnight frosts and freezes are not unusual by the end of October. So it’s basically in God’s Refrigerator. 😉

NostalgicGal October 16, 2014 at 9:11 pm

The only ones that have had lasting power are the Competition type ‘giant pumpkins’ (NOT Big Max. The Dill’s Atlantic Giants that are grown by the true competition growers, that have generations of hand cross pollenations). Even under 100# culls or last sets on one of those vines will last a good week after being carved. They are very very bland though. I’ve been lucky enough to get ahold of a few and they are the only thing for carving.

I grew up by the Canadian border. Rather cold. Even if you kept the pumpkin inside other than open the door, next day ol’Fangy had dental problems (teeth curl) and we’d toss it.

Calli Arcale October 17, 2014 at 11:53 am

My inlaws have these pumpkins that grow in their garden that taste great and have good staying power after carving. But they are of indeteterminate breed, as they’re volunteers. They have never actually planted pumpkins — they just sort of turn up. And they’re *awesome*. Maybe they should contact a seed company? 😉

NostalgicGal October 18, 2014 at 12:16 am

Callie, oh yeah, collect some of those seeds! A staying power carver, yeah.

Angel October 17, 2014 at 10:23 am

NostalgicGal when we were little my dad used to draw on the pumpkins with a marker, he didn’t like to use big knives around us kids. As we got older we were allowed to carve. But today with his grandkids he still draws the same face on the pumpkin he used to when we were little! I guess he thinks they aren’t ready for carving yet lol. I remember a few years ago in my neighborhood there was a pumpkin carving contest, folks would bring their carved pumpkins to a central location, display them there and we had another neighbor who wasn’t entered in the contest to judge. It was so much fun! Kid friendly and fun :-). I love the Thanksgiving pie/carved pumpkin idea and I will use this one day!

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NostalgicGal October 18, 2014 at 12:22 am

When smaller, the kitchen table got 4-5 layers of newspaper, and Dad wielded the knife to cut it, I took a table-spoon (not a measuring kind) to help scrape the guts; then we by committee cut the face. From 3-4 I was taught to sit and put hands on my knees and watch when sharp stuff was wielded. When I got older to where under supervision I was handling sharp stuff (9-10, yes, I was starting to do cook prep and help with butchering) he might still do the initial cut, then I would scrape the front of the pumpkin thinner inside then carve that part into face. By 12 I was cooking for family and wielded the knife by myself. Serration was the key. A Connecticut Field was the pumpkin of choice, fair size, thin enough wall, and worked well.

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Angel October 18, 2014 at 8:34 am

We were definitely cutting by the time we were 8-9, at least helping to cut. We live in NJ so all our pumpkins come from the local farms–the skin is kind of thick. My oldest just turned 9 and we haven’t done any pumpkin carving yet–it has been warm lately so I think we’ll wait another week to do it. The pumpkins usually start smelling funky after a week especially in 60-70 degree weather like we’ve been having lately! I must admit I haven’t done much yet to decorate this year. I have a couple pumpkins and gourds laid out on the front porch, and a harvest wreath. I want to get some purple lights and a big spiderweb. My kids and I are afraid of spiders so I usually get the giant ones that look as fake as possible lol. This thread has inspired me to pull out my fall décor. This way I can leave it up until Thanksgiving. I am too lazy to decorate for both holidays and so are most of my neighbors lol.

Peas October 14, 2014 at 2:15 pm

The fact that Halloween is spreading to other countries seems to indicate that it’s something people are interested in celebrating. The celebration of death and the macabre is universal and timeless.

Instead of getting upset that children are seeing things they might find scary, use it as an opportunity to teach them about the difference between fantasy and reality. Educate them about the origins of Halloween and the other similar festivals that happen around the same time. Take the mystery and surprise out of it. And, if a particular house offends you, don’t go to that house.

Instead of scoffing at people who are celebrating a popular holiday as “childish” and immature (for dressing up and going to parties), get off your high horse and admit that you also do things that are considered childish and immature for simple amusement and so you have no place to judge. People having fun is not against etiquette. Masquerades were very popular at one point in time. Many people just love dressing up as someone/something else for a time.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that every year, we hear the same thing – “In my day, halloween was different!” when, really, it wasn’t all that different. There were similar decorations where I grew up. Even scarier ones. And there has been celebrations of the dead for centuries.

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Syn October 14, 2014 at 2:27 pm

We don’t really do Halloween where I’m from (Northern Europe), but I don’t really understand why gore has become part of Halloween. When I think about Halloween I think of spirits and demons and jacko lanterns. I think a fake graveyard would be a cool way to decorate your yard, but murder victims? How is that Halloween?

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camlan October 14, 2014 at 8:59 pm

My thoughts exactly. When did Halloween become zombies and not ghosts?

I grew up in the 1960s, and Halloween then was trick or treating, a few black cat and witch and bat decorations, and that was about it. One year we had a Halloween party for our friends–bobbing for apples, pin the hat on the witch and a few other games. Adults didn’t get dressed up or have themed parties. You’d make a few decorations in school the week before, but otherwise it was one day, or really, one evening of being outside after dark and getting some candy.

I’ve got no problem with costumes and parties. But the gore and the hanging bodies–that isn’t Halloween; it’s just creepy. The holiday has really changed in the US.

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Sarah October 14, 2014 at 2:40 pm

I have an anxiety disorder so I really limit what I watch in terms of movies and TV in order to prevent anxiety attacks. But these days it seems all it takes is a drive through town or even just scrolling through facebook to have the same anxiety attacks. I realize that my anxiety is not anyone else responsibility, but it would be nice if people would realize how other people might be affected by their choice in decorations. 🙁

Inside your house – do what you want. Same with the backyard. But maybe have some thought for other people when choosing your front yard decorations.

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Magicdomino October 14, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Setting up a Halloween display can be tricky. You want to impress the older kids and teenagers, but you don’t want to give the little ones nightmares. At least you shouldn’t; on a Halloween themed forum, a poster was delighted that a little girl cried, I guess because it proved how realistic his hand-made props were. Most haunters are more responsible, some even establishing a tot lot with tame decorations just for the smaller and more sensitive children.

Plus, people have different reactions to different things. I don’t care for blood and guts,* and am lukewarm on zombies. However, I am building a giant spider for the front lawn. As noted in the comments on the dog in a spider costume, some people have severe arachniphobia. My co-worker is terrified of cats; should I not put out the inflatable black cat in case she drives by? Should I do like most of my neighbors and skip the holiday completely, even though I enjoy the challenge of bulding props? My artistic skills are too scant to make attractive Christmas decorations.

*The display usually has a few dollar store body parts around. After all, I have to feed the giant man-eating slug something even if the tween girls keep calling him cute. 🙂

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NostalgicGal October 14, 2014 at 8:50 pm

Thrift store shirts and pants and socks and gloves… sew together appropriately, sleeves and gloves and pants legs and socks, and stuff. Been doing that since long before you could get even fako plastic stuff bodyparts. If I needed ‘bones’ to show through the pants leg or sleeve, white pvc pipe piece works great. 🙂 Keep on making your stuff, sounds like you do greatness.

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AnaMaria October 14, 2014 at 5:09 pm

I teach English as a Second Language in a suburb of a large, diverse city, and my students come from all different parts of the world. Many of them escaped from war-torn countries and are suffering from PTSD. These are middle and high school students! I would be horrified if any child had to look at some of these decorations, but especially if it were one of these particular students- this is a mockery of the kinds of things that they had to live through, and I can’t imagine what kinds of memories must be conjured up in their minds when they stumble across such “decoration” in their neighbor’s yards!!

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iwadasn October 14, 2014 at 5:41 pm

There are people who think it’s fun to offend people because then they can feel superior about it. “Oh, you find this deliberately offensive thing offensive? I guess I must be more open-minded than you!” The people putting up these kinds of decorations are the same people who tell racist or sexist jokes and then claim anyone who’s offended has no sense of humor.

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rachel October 18, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Um, there’s a pretty big leap in that “logic.”

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Noodle October 14, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Some of these do get very realistic. I remember a story about a guy who hung a dummy from the side of his roof to make it look like someone had fallen off while hanging Christmas lights around Christmas time and people actually stopped.

That being said, I love gore and horror movies and do enjoy seeing some of the decorations that are more on the gory side, but the ones with gravestones with Obama’s name on them, simulated hangings from trees, and anything featuring implied dead children are where I draw the line.

I have a toddler myself and young children in my neighborhood so I stick with cute jack-o’-lanterns and friendly-looking ghosts.

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Anonymous October 14, 2014 at 9:34 pm

That’s different, because people don’t expect to see scary decorations at Christmas time. So, a dummy hanging from the roof (or lying on the ground) imitating someone who fell off the roof, or is hanging onto the roof after the ladder fell away, is immature, and akin to “crying wolf,” but putting up scary decorations at Halloween, is much less so, because Halloween is meant to be scary. That said, dummies under cars and hanging from trees are still a bit much, but I wouldn’t have a problem with, say, a dummy zombie (or a person dressed as a zombie) sitting in a deck chair holding a bowl of candy for the kids to take. One guy actually did that when I was a kid (dressed as a zombie, and sat perfectly still), and he “came alive” when we reached to take candy. It was one of the highlights of the many Halloweens of my youth.

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AnaMaria October 15, 2014 at 8:35 am

My brother did something similar when we were in high school- we both bought simple costumes to hand out candy, and he had purchased a ghoul mask with black mesh that covered his face. He put on gloves and old clothes so no skin was showing, stuffed some newspaper into his clothes, and then flopped on our porch so he looked like a halloween decoration. I would open the door in my princess costume and hand out candy, and he would wait until a child was looking (but the parents were looking at me) and would wave to them. The child would start exclaiming that the ghoul was alive, and mom or dad would insist, “No, Sweetie, that’s a dummy.” Sometimes, if the parents stayed at the door and chatted with me for a minute, or if there was a large group taking turns receiving candy, he would have multiple opportunities to wave to one child and would drive them bonkers! A few times when older kids where walking up to the door, my brother actually jumped up and scared them, but he reserved that for teenagers who wouldn’t have their entire evening ruined by a scare. THAT’S a funny way to spook trick-or-treaters, no blood or gore needed!

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Amanda H. October 15, 2014 at 3:32 pm

AnaMaria, that’s awesome. I’m glad he kept it age-appropriate too. That’s the best way to do that.

When I was a young teen (before I got “too old”), one of the houses we stopped at had a guy in ghoul costume holding the bowl, who looked like a prop. Several kids got candy in front of me with no issue, but when I went up and reached into the bowl, the ghoul “came to life” and scared me. Of course, I was in zombie costume that year, so I ended up growling back at him, and it’s something I laugh about now.

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NostalgicGal October 14, 2014 at 8:16 pm

51 comments and just skipping to my own.

IF you want to run a haunted house, and make it gorefest, fine, at least that’s inside/controlled access. People can choose to not view it. Until a few years ago and the trunk-or-treat stopped decorating or kids going out on Halloween night here; I would spend about a month doing up my front yard. I have flowerbeds that you can NOT see in the dark and a kid running at top speed to get to the next house or to my front door and heading through there is going to hurt themselves…. so. I would put up decrepit looking old garden fence I let weeds grow on and die on purpose… put orange and purple twinkle lights on that to keep kids out of that area. Inside the fence? Old pickup seat with a plastic ‘fako’ skeleton sitting on it; Styrofoam sprayed homemade tombstones; one ‘grave’ made with bricks laid on the grass and having a pair of stuffed sleeves with gloves coming out; some homemade ghosts and bats hung in trees, and my 8′ inflatable slightly lit spider, and at the sidewalk coming off the driveway is where pumpkins would be displayed, garlands of the season, and well lit front deck for receiving candy. Oh, and a few lighting up fuzzy tarantula type things that are a few feet across; etc, nothing massively gory or ugly. Other side of driveway had orange trashbags with pumpkin faces on, full of leaves. They would guide you to go up the drive then turn at the sidewalk not go up to the garage or backyard. You could dare to bring your smalls to my deck to get the chocolate. No fake blood and the closest to anything dismembered was the stuffed shirtsleeves with gloves attached coming out of the brick paved grave.

I thought the ones that do Christmas light decorations and put a scarecrow up that looks like the guy is hanging on and the ladder fell; were poor taste. Props you can buy have increased in variety, gone up in quality and come down to where you can buy even professional level stuff at not quite faint prices. Still. You want to lean on gorror (gore-horror) then do it with a tall fence or in your backyard or in your house so that people have a choice whether or not to view (though your backyard is going to be your neighbors). I’ve made Halloween decorations for many years, from a preschooler cutting out construction paper bats and pumpkins to more elaborate things; I went for ‘theme’ not gore and horror. I could hope that the zombie and bodypart stuff fades away, but I doubt it. Poor kids.

Maybe for bigger cities and urbans, have to go into some guidelines for ‘civil public displays’ and turn it over to code enforcement….

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NostalgicGal October 14, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Then I replied through. I agree, decorate as you choose; but. Have a thought for those passing by. No matter what holiday you’re decking the place for. Do what you want in privacy (back yard, garage, family room, in your house…) Or lend your talents to the local haunted house. Or run your own.

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Pktaxwench October 15, 2014 at 1:28 am

My 2 and 3 year olds helped us drag the bloody and decomposing bodies out of the shed for our zombie graveyard display. They weren’t traumatized by it. Obviously they are fake – it’s October, duh!

People need to get over themselves, really. I love gore decor, we are huge zombie genre fans here. I despise Christmas trees, but I don’t go around telling people they are offensive. Suck it up.

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admin October 15, 2014 at 8:11 am

Somehow a Christmas tree and a bloody, gory dead body don’t add up to being equally tasteless.

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Peas October 15, 2014 at 8:53 am

but crossed depicting a bloody, tortured, dying man are.

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admin October 16, 2014 at 6:24 pm

I haven’t seen a crucified Christ on a cross outside of a Catholic church in decades. In other words, to see that, you have to make the choice to go into the church. Same thing for gory Halloween decor….hide it in your own house or backyard or put it in a commercial haunted house where guests *choose* to see it.

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DannysGirl October 16, 2014 at 11:22 pm

Every cross I’ve ever seen with the Corpus (Christ’s body) isn’t done in full color with blood oozing from His wounds, or entrails coming out of the wound in His side. I’m talking about a a wooden or metal depiction like one would expect to see in a Catholic Church, not a painting. I am not traumatized by viewing that image. However, if my neighbors chose to put a cross in their yard with a realistic crucified Christ on it for Good Friday, I would have a problem with it. It’s too graphic, over-the-top, and in-your-face. Sure, my neighbors aren’t rude for displaying it, but I would think of them very inconsiderate and thoughtless.

Hollyhock October 17, 2014 at 12:44 pm

I have some neighbors on a corner lot who regrettably have a year-round 1o-foot crucifix complete with bloody Jesus and “He is Risen” banner. No one in the area likes it but their right to adorn their yeard as they see fit is respected.

Calli Arcale October 16, 2014 at 12:11 pm

I gotta agree there, admin. A Christmas tree is no more offensive than a sign for the opposing political party. If you don’t support them, you might grimace, but that’s it. Gory dead bodies can be actively traumatizing.

Random factoid for ironic content: Christmas trees were invented as an inoffensive substitute for the huge and often garish nativity displays that cities put on back in the day. Granted, that was because it was the Reformation and the Protestants needed a way to distinguish themselves from the Catholics, while simultaneously showing how much less idolatrous they were being, but I still find it kind of funny that the Christmas tree started out as a way of toning things down for Christmas, considering how lavish they get today.

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Pktaxwench October 16, 2014 at 11:53 pm

Then we will have to agree to disagree, because religious based displays are, to me, way more morally offensive and tasteless than the horror genre that has people so very upset.

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VickieS October 15, 2014 at 1:55 pm

I think there is a big difference between a zombie scene and a murder/torture scene. Zombies are not real, that right there makes the whole thing clearly “fake”. I worry about the people who think that inventing a torture & murder scenario (especially the “lynching” hangings etc) is fun times.

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Magicdomino October 15, 2014 at 2:15 pm

It helps that your children have grown up with the props. Which brings me to a question: would it be helpful for a neighbor’s frightened child to observe the props being put up or taken down? To see up close and in bright daylight that the monster is paper mache and PVC pipe, that the gravestones are Styrofoam, and the reaper is taken apart and stuffed in a box?

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iwadasn October 15, 2014 at 5:56 pm

“It doesn’t bother me so it shouldn’t bother anyone else” really isn’t the rule you should be following, much less teaching your kids. Some parents let their 10-year-olds watch R-rated movies, but that doesn’t mean other parents are wrong in not wanting their kids to see them. You don’t have the right to force offensive things on those around you, and from the tone of your comment, it seems like you get a kick out of doing exactly that.

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NostalgicGal October 16, 2014 at 1:23 pm

And then there was the talking babydoll that said ‘Mama’ if you moved her just right. I was near three and someone gave it to me, it made noise and I looked at it for a long moment, it totally rubbed me the wrong way and I SCREAMED. Not cried, just shrieked. Mom put it away. Several months later she brought it out and tried giving it to me again. Once more, it made noise and it just was NOT kosher somehow, and I SCREAMED again. I wasn’t going to warm up to it. Mom gave it away. Moral, something can just be taken the wrong way by a small child and nothing is going to change their mind…

Showing the small the props up close and personal might help, or it might not.

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Amanda H. October 17, 2014 at 2:02 pm

My now-five-year-old received a baby doll that swims when put in water when she was about 18 months old. She loved it for the first day, when she thought it was just a baby doll. Then came bath night, and we (Hubby, self, MIL, and Hubby’s aunt who gave her the doll in the first place) thought it would be fun to show her what the doll did in water.

Cue screaming and attempts to climb out of the tub from our toddler. She hated that baby until the day it broke and we threw it away.

I only wish we’d had a camera running at the time, because it was honestly a funny reaction, and she would’ve laughed at it now.

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Hollyhock October 17, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Funny, though, iwadasn, I see the “it wouldn’t bother me..” response to a lot of the discussions in the forum about etiquette matters such as whether a shower for a second baby-to-be is appropriate, whether informal attires is OK at events like funerals, etc. — many people seem to think that if they are laid-back or unconcerned about a breech of traditional etiquette, that means the traditional etiquette is outdated or obsolete. And that those trying to cling to traditional ways are stuffy and uptight.

I would agree with you that “It doesn’t bother me so it shouldn’t bother anyone else” probably isn’t a good guideline when it comes to managing one’s interactions with others, whether it’s jeans at a funeral or a corpse on the front lawn.

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Cherry91 October 15, 2014 at 4:00 am

I adore Halloween, it’s one of my favourite times of the year, but I pretty explicitly consent to get involved in it when I grab every horror film I can find, look up various events and get my costume(/s) ready to go. I know what I’m getting into, and the intensity of what I’m involved in is usually pretty openly displayed.

There are people who hate Halloween and horror, and I think they should have the right to not get startled/unnerved by things like that. I don’t like the one shown in the thumbnail for the video, because at first glance it really does look really, and for a lot of people that’s upsetting.

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essie October 15, 2014 at 5:55 am

I glanced at a news article online just last week, stating that at least one major theme park was going to stop its historical re-enactment of a beheading because of current events. To be blunt, I thought that was stupid. It’s happened in the past, it’s happening now, so why was a re-enactment considered appropriate before, but not now?

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Betty October 15, 2014 at 6:57 am

Please stop saying Halloween isn’t a holiday. Much of Halloween lore is derived from holy days like Samhain, where we honor those who have passed. Some cultures call it Day of the Dead. As a Pagan, it is a very holy day. We treat our dead with respect, reverence and pride. Myself, I leave offerings of skittles and ginger ale to honor my little girl who died two years ago. (She was nine, and those were her favorite.) I put her picture next to one of my grandfather, who gifted my with his love of laughter and really bad jokes. I light a candle and give thanks to the ancestors.

Then, I dress up in a costume and party with everyone else.

Dress up, or don’t. Put up decorations, or don’t. Eat candy ’til you vomit…or don’t.

Please be respectful. Of everyone.

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jazzgirl205 October 15, 2014 at 9:58 am

That’s what we do on All Souls Day

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Jaxsue October 15, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Very well said, Betty.

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Library Diva October 16, 2014 at 10:27 am

I’m sorry for your loss, Betty. What a beautiful way to honor your daughter and your grandfather.

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Wendy B. October 15, 2014 at 9:16 am

I haven’t liked Halloween for several years now because of this. When I was a kid, is was about being scary but knowing you were safe all the same. A little bit of gore, but just a little. Dressing up was fun…you could be anything and it didn’t have to be a bloody horror. Now…well, I can’t wait until it’s over.

Fortunately, some people still do fun. One thing I like about local Halloween parades is seeing how creative people can be. I’ve seen minions (the yellow ones!) and Muppets, princesses and football players and people just having a blast dressing up…it’s sort of national cosplay day in a way. 🙂

On our honeymoon, my husband and I had the opportunity to spend a day at Busch Gardens in Virginia. It was a few weeks before Halloween and, of course, they were set up for the event. But you know what? It was fun! There was only one thing I had trouble with, the bridge with spiders, and since that was the fastest way back to the front gate, I closed my eyes and my husband led me through. At one point I stood by and watched a couple actors dressed as zombies jumping out and scaring people. I was laughing and the one guy turned to look at me and waved in friendly acknowledgement. We even walked through one of their haunted amusements and it was more of the jump and startle than gross out. Kudos to them.

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Shoegal October 15, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Halloween IS a holiday. People can just make up Holidays and celebrate it – just like “Festivus” on Seinfeld – what exactly is the guidelines for calling a day on the calendar a holiday anyway? Simply not a valid argument in my book. If you don’t want to call it a “holiday” then don’t – but it is a day people have traditional things they like to do – decorating, dressing up, eating candy – whatever. I also don’t see how dressing up in a costume is considered immature or something children do – there are costume parties that have absolutely NOTHING to do with Halloween. It is considered something “fun” to do. Is doing something “fun” childish or immature? Decorating is also considered fun – I agree with the posts that say I am not responsible for parenting the rest of the world’s children. It is a parent’s job to police what their children are exposed to. If I need to worry about what is offensive to everybody then there is no decoration that is appropriate. May as well not decorate at all.. We are all different. Someone hanging a dead carcass in their yard is not offensive to other hunters – it is a way of life for them but it is, in fact, offensive to me. I don’t think it is my right to insist that the hunter make sure I’m not offended. To him it is a process – to me it’s just gross.

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P October 16, 2014 at 2:12 am

@Shoegirl: “Halloween IS a holiday. People can just make up Holidays and celebrate it – just like “Festivus” on Seinfeld – what exactly is the guidelines for calling a day on the calendar a holiday anyway? Simply not a valid argument in my book.”

It is a *perfectly” valid argument, because it is NOT a “holiday” in the country *I* come from and that is the conversational thread to which I was responding. Yet another American who dismisses things that are *perfectly* valid opinions, even facts, outside their own country as incorrect? Stunning arrogance.

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Peas October 16, 2014 at 8:59 am

I don’t understand why your comments aren’t being moderated. You are being extremely rude to Americans while saying Americans are being rude to you.

Please grow up.

P.S. It’s still a pagan holiday in YOUR country. You just don’t celebrate it the same way a different country and culture does.

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Shoegal October 16, 2014 at 8:59 am

Hey “Q” – it’s “SHOEGAL” not shoegirl. If you had bothered to read my post it said, call it a holiday or not. I don’t care. I really didn’t read with close scrutiny all of the replies but if it in any way implied that in dismissing Halloween as a non a holiday this should somehow prevent anyone from doing what they wanted on that day then it isn’t a valid argument no matter what country. That was my argument. And labeling all Americans as arrogant by one American’s reply is extremely ignorant and short sighted.

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Merrilee October 16, 2014 at 9:24 am

I think Shoegirl was saying that although it is NOT a holiday in the UK, it IS a holiday for a lot of us in the US. I do not think calling anyone arrogant on an etiquette board is adding to the discussion, unless your aim is to offend the people you are arguing with.

If you don’t want to celebrate it because it is not a valid holiday in your country, then by all means – don’t.

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P October 16, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Not the point I’m making, Merilee.

The point is, that two people from the UK were having a *perfectly* reasonable discussion about how Halloween isn’t a “holiday” in *our* country, until some Americans all dived in with the “stop saying it isn’t a holiday!” and “it IS a holiday!” comments. Rude, rude, rude. For one thing, we were discussing it as it pertains to *our* culture, not yours. For another, you don’t get to define how other cultures refer to/celebrate something just because you think the rest of the world should do things the same way America does it. Do I have an issue with that? Absolutely I do. Is that arrogant? Absolutely it is. “America is not the world” – great song by Morrissey, look it up.

All yous general, of course.

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Shoegal October 17, 2014 at 7:48 am

It is obvious that you have an “anti America” attitude and that isn’t adding to the discussion. You’re responses are obviously aimed to be rude and offensive. Nobody here is saying that the UK should celebrate anything in the style Americans do or anywhere else in the world. You’re dreaming that up on your own. Just because your culture is influenced by ours doesn’t mean that we pushed it on you.

LovleAnjel October 17, 2014 at 9:24 am

But it is a holiday in the UK – it’s Samhain. I know plenty of pagans who celebrate it. It’s insulting to them to insist that their holy day doesn’t count because most people don’t celebrate it.

Kirst October 17, 2014 at 12:47 pm

The other thing is that Americans tend to call all the celebratory days “holidays” but in the UK holiday generally means a day off work. Christmas, New Year, Easter can legitimately be called holidays because they’re not working days (for most people, of course emergency services operate). Valentine’ Day, Hallowe’en etc are normal working days and therefore not holidays.

Library Diva October 20, 2014 at 10:13 am

A comments thread on a blog is a terrible place to attempt a private conversation, so you can’t really get upset at others for jumping in on it. Also, a direct quote from your OP: “I find Halloween a ludicrous affair; adults dressing up and behaving like children for absolutely no reason. It’s not even a holiday.”

I live in New York State. The Hindu population here is minute and confined mostly to a major university nearby. Yet I would never go around saying that Dewali is not a holiday. I would say that it’s not widely celebrated where I’m from; I would say that I have only the dimmest awareness of what it is; but I wouldn’t denigrate it.

Also, maybe things have changed in the UK, but when I studied there for a semester, I went to class several times to find the place completely deserted for a “bank holiday.” Curious about the culture I was living in, I asked around as to the nature of these “bank holidays” and no one could tell me what any of them meant, if anything. So I don’t think British people are in any position to be throwing stones over what constitutes a real holiday and who is celebrating nothing.

Ann October 15, 2014 at 1:16 pm

I was wondering here and in the dog spider thread, how many times the police or fire department are called out because of “bodies” hanging from trees or in driveways? I’m reminded of the long history of lynching here in the South, and of the Black Dahlia, who was found in a vacant lot just like a Halloween prop. I think anybody putting these out who gets the police called on them should pay a hefty fine for tying up resources.
(I know the dog spider video earlier was in Poland, but if that had happened to me, I would have called 911 automatically).

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Celany October 15, 2014 at 3:24 pm

It will never fail to amaze me that we’re upping the ante on something like Halloween more & more & more…but show partial nudity in a movie theater and suddenly there are screams of immorality and how wrong the world is today.

I would rather see a nude body than a realistic corpse any day of the week – which isn’t to say I’m advocating people running around naked, just that it’s amazing that something we’re all born with is so much more censored than graphic, brutal violence.

Does anybody remember some of the Saw ads? There was one in the subway, on the sides of buses, on the street. It showed a decapitated, slightly decomposed head on a scale. How is that OK? How is that less offensive than a bare breast? The first time I saw that ad on the side of a bus, I felt physically ill.

I love Halloween for the potential to dress up for a day in something completely outlandish. To me, that’s really fun. And more importantly, it doesn’t hurt anybody. I also love haunted houses, although I look for ones that specialize in being thrilling/scary, not gory/scary. But I’m paying to have a set experience to go inside one and enjoy it. This current obsession with torture/gore/horror…it’s really terrible and dehumanizing. And interestingly enough…it’s centered on humans, isn’t it? If someone was putting up fake tortured animals, they’d have a million animal-lovers up in arms (and rightfully so; I’m not advocating extending this grossness to animals), but people…what does it say about us that we’re more OK with displaying highly- realistic tortured individuals of our own species, but other species (especially the ones we keep as pets) would create a far bigger outcry?

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Cecilia October 16, 2014 at 11:03 am

A thousand times LIKE.

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Merrilee October 15, 2014 at 8:52 pm

I wasn’t going to chime in on the topic, but I am.

I am a person who adores Halloween. I dress up, and I decorate my house. I also run a haunt at my home every year for the kids (teens) or adults who WANT to go through it. It is totally up to them and their parent/guardian – I warn them that it IS scary and things will jump out at them. I give candy to everyone and last year was the talk of the complex… and yes, I do have a child.

I am not a devil worshipper and I do not glorify daemons, and I am not on a mission to make American children fatter. Nor am I stupid or immature. I am a grown woman and I enjoy getting dressed up, I love all the kids who come by whether or not they participate in the haunt because it’s so much fun to see them all. And yes, I have always loved scary movies – the scary kind, not the gorefests of today like Saw.

No matter what happens with decorations, there is always going to be someone who is put out. The front of my townhome contains: spider webs, a cauldron, some creepy ivy and a door poster with ghosts on it and some light up eyes on the third floor facing out. I also, this year, assembled two 5 foot skeletons so that one looks like he is climbing on the other one’s shoulders to reach our roof.

I had a neighbor contact me to complain about them because she has two under 10 year old girls that are frightened by the decorations. I have no blood or gore out there.

I don’t think the people in the video should have staged a crime scene in front of their house, and I agree there should not be severed heads lying about but I’m also concerned that people like my neighbor are going to insist that everything be PC and cutesy-Halloween, which to me, defeats the whole purpose of the holiday to begin with. I thought jack-o-lanterns originated so that they could frighten away any evil spirits that were about on All Hallow’s Eve.

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Lera99 October 16, 2014 at 8:49 am

Merrilee,

1) You put the really scary stuff in the Haunt which means people can make the decision to experience it or not. That’s perfect.

2) It’s true, we’re never going to be able to please everyone. But I think there is a huge difference between spiderwebs and a couple of skeletons vs recreating the torture and murder of people in your front yard.

I live in the south. There was a guy in my town several years ago who hanged a bunch of black mannequins from his oak tree for Halloween. And then he flew a giant confederate flag right next to it. Considering the history of lynchings and the fact that Jim Crow was in effect here within living memory – I found it stomach turning and incredibly racist. One of my friends basically said i was being too sensitive. It was Halloween and I needed to enjoy it in that spirit.

There is also a house in my town that did a Texas Chainsaw Massacre theme a couple years ago. Lots of hanging body parts, words in red to look like they were painted with blood, a life-sized leather face, a clothes line with white sheets, buckets under the hanging body parts as though collecting the blood etc… It was really gory and really well done. Any fan of the movie would have recognized it and the home owner obviously put a lot of time, energy, and money into it. Even though it might have been too intense for little kids, I loved it.

And I feel conflicted.
Because I don’t want to tell the guy who did Texas Chainsaw Massacre that he’s not allowed to decorate his own yard.

On the other hand, I wish I had some power to stop Mr. Lynching is an appropriate theme for Halloween.

I believe freedom of expression is really important. And that means I have to stand up for both of their rights to decorate their yards as they see fit. (Though I also still have the right to think Mr. Confederate Flag is an insensitive, racist, jerk.)

And to me there is a difference between the Texas Chainsaw Massacre themed yard and a decoration labeled “Casey Anthony” who was a real little girl who was really murdered.

I’m sure there are others who disagree. I’m sure there were people horrified by the Texas Chainsaw Massacre yard. Just as the mother of those two girls felt that your skeletons were too scary.

Sadly we are dealing with people. And that means we are never going to all agree 100%.

I hope you keep loving Halloween and keep having a fun time doing it.

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Merrilee October 17, 2014 at 7:23 am

Lera99,

First of all, can I just say I gasped when I read about the person who hung the black mannequins from his tree? In the south or not, there are no words for how wrong that is. People like that ruin it for the rest of us, because they are raking their own racist viewpoint and masking it behind “Halloween decorations”. Wildly inappropriate and absolutely horrifying.

I understand what you’re saying about the Texas Chainsaw Massacre yard, and I also agree that bloody heads and body parts don’t belong in someone’s front yard.

Thanks — I will always love Halloween and we are moving to a house soon, where next year there will surely be a bigger haunt for those who wish to participate 🙂

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The TARDIS October 16, 2014 at 12:00 am

Last year’s Halloween was completely Doctor Who themed with friends dressed as Weeping Angels haunting our fake graveyard among the ghosts and Jack o’lanterns. We had a cardboard TARDIS near the driveway and Boyfriend would pop out dressed as the Eleventh Doctor with a sonic screwdriver to “keep the baddies away” while escorting kids up to the door where I hung out dressed as River Song. The thing with Weeping Angels is they get you if you blink or look away from them. Since my friends aren’t that fast, Boyfriend would tell the kids to “Keep your eye on the Angels. They don’t like that and will stay put!” Most of them forgot to do that as they left and THAT was when my dressed-up pals would chase them back to their parents. All in great fun and nobody was frightened to the point of crying. It was a blast.

This year we’re doing a UFO crash site similar to ones you’ve seen online before. There’s going to be an alien autopsy in the garage and Boyfriend and me are going to be dressed up as the scientists.

I don’t mind gory decorations so much because I work in a hospital and I’m used to grossness. I see more nastiness produced by the human body in a day than the average person sees in their lifetime. It is awesome yet gross and I have to be reminded not to talk shop over the dinner table. Oops.

Personally, I think it is up to the parents to teach children that those decorations are make-believe. Perhaps speak to the homeowner about letting your child see the decorations up close and touch them so they see that they’re fake. Show the child how the moving ones work. While it may not work for all children, the idea that these things are pretend and won’t come into their room or pop out of their closet at night might help ease their fear.

While I find decorations that resemble actual crime scenes distasteful, I don’t see much of an issue with the rest of it unless every single person in the neighborhood complained. Otherwise, close the curtains on that side of your house and have them close their eyes while driving by the house if your child can’t handle it after being told it’s all pretend.

I’m aware this will be an unpopular opinion, but it’s how I was raised. Live and let live, and look away if something is unsightly unless it is physically dangerous to my safety.

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The Elf October 16, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Hello, Sweetie. Your Halloween sounds AMAZING. We’ve done medieval themes before, with my husband in full armor handing out candy.

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Library Diva October 17, 2014 at 9:35 am

I agree, your house sounds awesome! I hope that all of your guests love it!

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Calli Arcale October 17, 2014 at 11:57 am

One thousands internets to you for the awesome Doctor Who themed yard!

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Amethyst Ribbons October 16, 2014 at 8:31 am

I like scary Halloween decorations, but the gory ones turn me off. I think you can achieve scary without going into gory or horrifying.

Everyone certainly has the right to decorate as they see fit. Just because you have the “right” to do something doesn’t always mean it’s the right thing to do or they best thing for your neighborhood. I fail to see the scary part of dead bodies/body parts that look like they have been tortured, ripped apart, run over, hung, etc. I think that is more disturbing than scary.

No one is responsible for parenting other people’s children. If a parent has to drive by the bloody/gory house on the way to & from home/work/school/whatever and it is scary/upsetting to their child, what are they supposed to do? Cover their child’s head with a bag? Tell them to close their eyes every single time for weeks? Sometimes you can go another way home, but why should people have to add miles to their trip because someone has the “right” to go all-out gory and bloody? You can talk to children about what’s real and what’s fake but it will still be upsetting to some children. If a small child is scared of those types of displays, the parents can talk til they are blue in the face and the child might still be frightened.

Sometimes you can’t go another way home. For example: I live on the corner lot going into my subdivision. There is only one (1) entrance/exit. If I decided to decorate my yard and make it the bloodiest, goriest, grossest yard in the neighborhood, every person entering and exiting the subdivision would have no choice but to see it because it’s right there in their face. How is that fair to the people who *have* to drive by in order to leave or go home?

This is not a debate that will be settled anytime soon. I hope someday a balance between scary and gory can be achieved.

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DannysGirl October 16, 2014 at 11:31 pm

Thank you! This is an eloquent response and everything I was thinking.

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SorkaHanrahan October 18, 2014 at 1:43 pm

So much this!!! Thank you!! We also only have one entrance to our subdivision…

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Angel October 20, 2014 at 8:21 am

I fully agree with this. It’s not fair to people (kids or not) who may genuinely be scared of such displays. My kids and I hate gory stuff. My oldest who is 9 knows it isn’t real–so she is not as scared but if you are not expecting it, it can be very scary! My youngest forget it–she can’t watch stuff like this without getting freaked out. And why should we have to find another way home just to avoid scary displays? That stinks! I wish there were some kind of ordinance for this. There has to be limits. Unfortunately there isn’t 🙁

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Calli Arcale October 16, 2014 at 12:20 pm

I just thought of something else along these lines. Here in Minnesota, we’ve had some really funny and well-done ads for the state lottery. My favorite was a series depicting various wild animals thanking people for playing the lottery (the proceeds from which go to the DNR). But there’s one now that I’m absolutely appalled by.

They’re running a scratch-off game sponsored by “The Walking Dead”, so of course the ad is zombie themed. A woman is pursued by shambling zombies into a shack right out of “Night of the Living Dead”. They start trying to bash their way in while she frantically searches for what we assume is to be a weapon, holding up various landscaping and farm implements as the zombies start bashing their way through loose spots in the walls. One manages to bash an arm right into the room, and she rushes over, grabbing it. She bends the zombie’s finger back, and it snaps off. This is depicted in close-up, with a very visceral foley sound of a dried bit of corpse snapping. She then turns back to the table with the farm implements, and uses the zombie’s finger to scratch off a scratch-off ticket.

The joke might be funny (she’s not really scared for her life, she’s just searching for something to scratch off her lottery ticket with) but the finger-snapping bit was so gruesome right before it that it completely overshadows the joke. I like watching gory movies, as well as actual surgery, and that stuff doesn’t bother me normally. But I found it deeply tasteless, and the worst part was that this ad runs on broadcast and basic cable all day long. Not just after hours. My daughters are 7 and 11. The 11-year-old is very sensitive to this sort of thing, and has to flee whenever the ad comes on. (I turn off the TV as soon as I recognize it, but she doesn’t take a chance on me not noticing.) My 7-year-old just thinks it’s gross and nasty, but isn’t afraid of it.

So if broadcast standards are slipping, maybe this is an overall symptom. I’m fine with blood and gore, but a lot of people aren’t. It’s not right to air it 24/7 or to put it out in the front yard where anybody can and will see it.

If they had a boob in it, you can guarantee it would get removed. Because apparently that’s worse than turning dismemberment into a joke.

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Calli Arcale October 16, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Oh, and for extra irony? The station I see this on most frequently is the one I turn to for morning news, since they’ve had the best morning news show in the area since long before they became a network affiliate. It’s Fox 9, which is also hosting the second link admin cited above, which goes toa slideshow titled “Minneapolis Halloween display too scary for kids.”

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Library Diva October 17, 2014 at 9:33 am

New York State has taken to airing really, really gruesome anti-smoking ads. Smoking killed my grandmother, and I absolutely hate it, but I don’t need to see diseased lungs or mouth sores on TV. I don’t know as those shock advertisements are going to do anything but gross people out. I can’t imagine the modern smoker who doesn’t already know most of that stuff, anyway.

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Calli Arcale October 20, 2014 at 11:29 am

Well, at least that’s for a public service reason rather than for cheap laughs in support of a gambling program. But I do agree they tend to be a bit too gruesome. Locally, the anti-smoking ads have taken a clever turn in getting former smokers who have suffered severe health consequences to share their stories as a less graphic but far more personal way of getting the same message across. I suspect it works better.

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The Elf October 16, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Well, as a die-hard Halloween fan, count me among the fans of the gruesome, the strange, the terrifying, the clever, the gross, and the politically incorrect. But I do think there are limits and a homeowner should take care in choosing decorations where there are lots of little kids around and to avoid anything that resembles a local tragedy. Anything “too soon” (i.e. Ebola references) shouldn’t be considered. I also don’t like to see Halloween stuff up more a few weeks before the holiday. (Of course, I feel that way about Christmas too).

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LadyStormwing October 16, 2014 at 3:21 pm

I didn’t read all of the comments, but enough of them to realize that I am in the minority when I look at these and go “cool”! rather than think of any of these home displays as distasteful. I actually find the giant blow-up types to be far more distracting than a fake graveyard with a few bodies um… laying around. I don’t know if this is because of my background in special effects, especially the several years I spent working specifically on Halloween-season displays and shows at an amusement park or what, but I thought these were fairly well done. That being said, it’s no fun to purposely scare a child. Our next-door-neighbor puts up a huge display inside and out, and their 4-y/o dresses up like Freddy to “help”, and on trick-or-treat night we all get dressed up and are not adversed to jumping out (or down, or up) at high school and college students when they come begging for candy. Young kids though? Never. We’ll even take them around and show them how the props or fog machines work.

FWIW regarding current events, the park I worked for did have a show once that featured a beheading. In 2004, when journalist Daniel Pearl was executed, the park cancelled the show. It’s been performed every year since, but I would not be surprised at all if they took it off the schedule again this year.

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admin October 16, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Why on earth would anyone find beheading “entertaining”?

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The Elf October 16, 2014 at 7:39 pm

I would actually recommend anyone doing a gory Halloween display to avoid a depiction of beheading this year because of ISIS. A little too soon for that. Fantasy violence is best done at a bit of removal from current events.

But it does have a place. In an English Lit class, my friends and I acted out the big final fight scene in Macbeth. We set it up so that we could “behead” Macbeth and have Macduff bring the head to show Malcolm. We did it up really gory, using homemade fake blood that we sprayed copiously all over Macduff and the dropcloths we put down on the stage. It was pretty entertaining judging by the smiles and applause in the audience.

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Lynne October 18, 2014 at 9:28 am

This year? “Too soon” ?

Al Nusra has been beheading COUNTLESS people over the past several years, small children included, and they haven’t stopped yet.

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B October 17, 2014 at 4:12 am

Because we are not half as civilised as we would like to think, and have not changed much since a public beheading was a big day out.

The last French public beheading (in 1933!) was made the last because the crowd was so badly behaved.

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Kirst October 17, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Because it’s not real? Human beings have been scaring themselves in safe ways for as long as we’ve had language. Have you read the original traditional European fairytales? They’re absolutely gruesome, and they were for children. Confronting scary things in a safe way helps us come to term with being scared.

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NostalgicGal October 18, 2014 at 12:43 am

The stories the Brothers Grimm cleaned up ad published, have been sanitized a few more times. Cinderella, the stepsisters originally had their mother hand them a knife and she ordered one to cut off her big toe so the shoe would fit, ‘because when you’re queen it won’t matter if you can’t walk’… the girl didn’t want to do it but she did. When the prince found that out he brought her back; and mother ordered the other to cut her heel off for the same reason. Once more the prince figured it out and brought the girl back. Then the two decided to go to the wedding to try to kiss up to Cinderella, and birds pecked their eyes out! Jack and Jill, went up that hill to do something else, it was originally a warning about catching an STD. Those fairytales were ADULT entertainment originally.

Yes we as people like being scared, entertainment value definitely. Still it should be filtered for age appropriate. Something that would have scared me at 3, at 6… might not at 10. I do believe in freedom of being able to decorate, but do give it a little throttle. As said time and time again, put the really gruesome out of general public view; so someone has a choice of seeing how awesomely wicked your gorror yard is done or not.

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LadyStormwing October 17, 2014 at 5:30 pm

For the same reason bringing two “dead bandits” back from the grave and attempting to “re-hang” one of them was? Once the convicted witch lost her head, it of course started talking again and she mystically re-appeared among the crowd. It was a magic illusion, more than anything, built into an 8-minute vignette, and ditto with the hanging. The first a comedy, the other a drama. As I stated, the park does take into account current events, and adjusts their show schedule thusly.

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hakayama October 18, 2014 at 12:04 am

The true ghouls are alive and well. And numerous.
Let’s face it, Dear Admin, humanity “ain’t human”…not what we’d like it to be.
I’m with you on totally not understanding (and not accepting) that attraction towards the ugly, the distorted, the grotesque. Why so many people seek that, rather than the pleasant, inoffensive, mellow scenes, costumes, characters?
Since answers are not forthcoming, nor would they change anything, I just will continue to avert my eyes, avoid the crowds and stick to my own choices.

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just4kicks October 16, 2014 at 6:22 pm

I was just now talking with my four kids about Halloween. We have two in high school and two in middle school. The two middle schoolers want nothing to do with dressing up or trick or treating. However, the high school boys are in the midst of planning out very elaborate costumes this year!!! Funny how just a year or so ago, the roles were totally reversed.

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Cat October 16, 2014 at 10:24 pm

I only read a handful of comments so this may have been resolved…

But I am a mom who goes all out for Halloween. My decorations include a “Cemetary” with bones and skeletons, zombies, severed heads and limbs. It’s meant to be spooky and fun. I managed a Halloween store for over 10 years so maybe I’ve become immune to it

However, the point of my post is my 3 year old (He’ll be four on Halloween!) also loves the holiday. He helps me decorate, enjoys haunted houses and realizes it’s all fake. I don’t think it’s fair to say people who choose to decorate don’t have kids or are acting irresponsibly

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SorkaHanrahan October 18, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Halloween used to be my favorite holiday – I LOVE dressing up. We’re big geeks and go to cons and such.

We went out to dinner with some friends in early October a couple years ago when my daughters were 4 and 5. We got caught in a zombie walk when leaving the small restaurant (there were no signs up and we had no idea this event was going to occur) and my kids were TERRIFIED. They were screaming and the walkers were growling at them, lunging at them, laughing. We rushed back to the restaurant, on the way a woman shook her “dead” fetus still hanging from an umbilical cord at my girls as we dodged past her to get inside. While I realize that she probably didn’t know that we’d suffered a misscarriage earlier in the summer, it really dredged up something I thought I was coping with until then (and later the girls wanted to know if that’s what their little brother had looked like – thanks). The restaurant had no area where you couldn’t see outside and the bathroom was occupied. My husband and I blocked the girls from being able to see and turned our backs as the participants (many in really, really realistic get ups) pounded on the windows and hollered and shrieked as they went by.

We don’t watch horror movies and scariest thing they’d seen or heard of at the point was probably Discord on My Little Pony. While we tried to explain it was just people acting, not real, nothing to be scared of, this was extremely traumatizing – they’d never even heard of the concept of zombies until this point so we had to try to explain that too and they couldn’t understand why people would want to play that “game”. We dealt with nightmares, the little one having them so bad that she would wake up screaming so she had to sleep with us for about a month. Two years later she still has the occassional zombie nightmare.

I found the organizers page on Facebook, and there were some other complaints about lack of notification for the walk, particularly since it was in the early evening (it was around 6pm). I emailed them with our story, and asked if they would consider maybe putting a few signs along their route in the future so people could choose to avoid it. The response I got was similar to what I see here – justification that it was all in good fun, tell your kids it’s fake, you can’t shelter them forever, we’re overreacting, it’s a public space and they can do what they want. I specifically said I wasn’t asking them to cancel or really change anything other than give others the chance to opt out. I was then blocked from the page on FB.

We no longer celebrate Halloween – they begged us not to go ToT that year (you may be thinking that no kid would do that, but my kids did because they were so scared), and we realized that we were already uncomfortable with the level of gore and sexualization we’d been seeing during ToT in past years.

While you may have the right to inflict your gore on others, I think public shaming should come into play when it gets so out of hand that it’s harming others. I see stuff all the time I don’t like or disagree with, but am willing to tolerate (and we don’t celebrate Christmas either – nativity scenes make me roll my eyes a little but I am not offended in any way and couldn’t care less). I don’t think R – NC17 rated decor is in the same realm at all.

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burgerking October 19, 2014 at 11:09 pm

Sorry, can’t read through all the comments — but, my first thought when I saw the pic of the guy lying on the ground by the truck would have been to stop, call 911, stop the car ( maybe holding up traffic) and rushed to his aid. Relief aside of finding out its not real, can you imagine the problems caused? That’s why it’s bad taste for me.

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kingsrings October 15, 2014 at 1:10 pm

And myself and others find that attitude to be a huge killjoy kind of attitude. For most people, this is a once a year deal and they don’t eat like that regularly. Stop worrying about how others find their fun and joy and it won’t bother you as much.

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The Elf October 16, 2014 at 3:11 pm

And as long as Halloween stays as just the middle-to-end of October (unlike Christmas, which starts sometime in August these days), it’s just a short period of time to avoid what you don’t like.

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The Elf October 16, 2014 at 3:12 pm

Sorry, I meant that as a reply to Kingsrings about the killjoy attitude.

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Anonymous October 16, 2014 at 9:44 pm

I agree that Christmas starts too early, to the point of overshadowing other holidays and events, like Thanksgiving, Halloween, Remembrance Day, and December 6th, which is significant to most Canadians, because it’s the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. Anyway, seeing all of those other events, especially the sombre ones, get shunted aside in favour of “Christmas, Christmas, Christmas!!!” (the same way Jan Brady felt about everything being about “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!!!”) is really offensive to me. When I was in university, I tried to get the school bookstore and dining hall to hold off on decorating until at least after Remembrance Day, but I was told that I “just had to get in the spirit.” So, could the topic of Christmas starting too early, and “Christmas people” trying to force the Christmas spirit on “non-Christmas people,” be its own discussion thread? This isn’t a religious debate–there are people who aren’t Christians, who go all out for Christmas, and there are people who are Christians, who prefer a quieter holiday celebration.

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TaterTot October 17, 2014 at 11:46 am

I had no idea what the Montreal Massacre was (I’m an American), so I looked it up. Wow. That was horrible. Thank you for mentioning that, because otherwise I would still be ignorant of this event.

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Wild Irish Rose October 17, 2014 at 3:15 pm

I blame retailers for the whole early Christmas thing. It wasn’t like that when I was a kid–the Christmas season pretty much started shortly after Thanksgiving and not the day after Labor Day. I heard on the radio recently that a local department store is opening early on Thanksgiving for “Black Friday.” Personally, I don’t care how big the savings are, I refuse to shop on Black Friday, and I’m sure as the world not ruining the holiday for people who work in retail. You know they are being scheduled to work on Thanksgiving because by golly people CAN’T WAIT to hit those bargains! I think it’s repugnant and greedy.

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Library Diva October 20, 2014 at 10:19 am

Have you heard them trying to rebrand it as “Black Thursday?” No, no, a thousand times no! I stay home the whole weekend. I try to get gas and groceries on Wednesday night so that I stay clear of all stores the entire weekend. I don’t do Black Thursday, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday. I find it all absolutely disgusting. My in-laws are big Black Fridayers — they pore over the ads, plot out a plan of attack, the whole nine yards. I stay home when it’s our year with them. I love my in-laws very much, but it’s one family tradition I refuse to be a part of. There’s something unseemly about rushing away from the table where you’re supposed to gather with family to give thanks in order to acquire more cheaply made plastic crap.

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Wild Irish Rose October 20, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Library Diva, I wonder if you and I have the same in-laws! My MIL dragged me out on Black Friday two years ago to buy me clothes for Christmas. She insisted I go to try them on. At that time, I was recovering from cancer and a bad experience with chemotherapy. Black Friday was the absolute last thing I wanted to deal with. I still wonder why she couldn’t just have purchased a gift card that I could use at my leisure–or better yet, nothing at all. I didn’t need anything then and I don’t need it now–not badly enough to drag my sick self out to try on clothes.

If it were up to me, I would get my kids things they wouldn’t get themselves, and maybe a little something for my husband, but that would be all the Christmas spending I would do. But certain family members will say they need nothing but get pouty if you don’t get them something. Irritates me to no end.

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Michelle October 21, 2014 at 1:51 pm

100% agree. I had never done “Black Friday” before last year. Actually, it was “Black Thursday”.
I thought the event started in the evening, but it started at noon. On Thanksgiving Day. And that was only the lines. You could not check out until 6pm. I only went because they had a great deal on TV’s and I really needed a new one. It was one of the most awful things I have experienced.

At 6, a “war cry” went up and it was pandemonium. It took 45 minutes to get to the front of the store and another hour to get checked out because some of the prices were not ringing up correctly.

Never again. If they can slash prices and offer great deals during the holidays, they could do that all year or a couple times a year, to avoid the free-for-all craziness that happens at on Black Friday.

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admin October 16, 2014 at 6:17 pm

I don’t think you understand. I, as an adult, know the mannequins are not real but the action being portrayed is most definitely, undeniably, unequivocally real. I don’t consider scenes of beheadings, gore or torture to be entertaining because I’m cognizant enough of what is happening in the world to know that someone somewhere is experiencing that horror. I won’t lie to a child and tell them such horrors are not real.

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admin October 17, 2014 at 1:23 pm

A crucified Jesus on a cross and a banner stating “he is risen” are incongruous.

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