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Your Red Dirt Reporter tends to be an old-fashioned, jack-o-lantern kind of Halloween guy.
By Andrew W. Griffin
Red Dirt Report, editor
Posted: October 13, 2012
OKLAHOMA CITY – As the leaves change color and the winds get a little chillier, pumpkins appear on porches and Halloween decorations of all sorts start to appear in neighborhoods across town and across the country.
And like so many cities, Oklahoma City has its share of scary attractions as All Hallow’s Eve approaches. For instance, this year, the Oklahoma Gazette’s Halloween Parade, now in its sixth year, holds this parade as a way to “stimulate creative thought and action in Oklahoma.” Ok. That's cool, then.
Or, as the Gazette’s YouTube notes: a “macabre celebration of artistry and creativity.” And naturally, the Gazette is using social media to promote the event which is heavy on the grotesque. With society’s unhealthy obsession with decaying bodies, animated corpses and all things “zombie,” this year’s parade focuses on – you guessed it – zombies. Checking the Gazette’s Halloween Parade Facebook page, they are promoting “Zombie Brain Shots” featuring Bailey’s, grenadine and peach Schnapps. Yeah, it’s pretty disgusting to look at.
“Succumb to dark magic” announces the full, two-page ad in the center of this week’s issue of the Gazette. Mmmm, don’t think I’ll be doing that. We did enjoy some of the past Ghouls Gone Wild parades, like the one we reported on where Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips was rolling around in his big ball. But voodoo zombies and decaying corpse and filth? For this old-fashioned Halloween guy, I think it goes too far and gets to be a turn off for even the most fun-loving fright fans.
This culture, with its “zombie brain purses” for trendy, spellbound women and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) actually offering “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse” tips, this society has seemingly gone over the edge with its obsession with the gory, bloody and gross. Traveling through Fort Worth recently, I noticed “Hangman’s House of Horrors.” There was off-putting imagery advertised in order to draw in people to “The Haunted Library” – “where the undead are well-read.”
And online, fans of thrills and chills are noticing the trend. At roller-coaster fan site thecoastercritic.com, the writer wonders if “zombies are a good fit for theme parks"?
Continuing, the Coaster Critic writes: “I don’t like typing in my home parks’ web address and nearly jumping out of my seat as I’m greeted by a zombie that looks hungry. I get it. That’s the point. People want to be scared; maybe I’m just getting old. I guess I just see theme parks as being too family-friendly for this kind of horror.”
The writer then concedes that the theme parks are just keeping up with the times, considering all the TV shows and movies that go to extremes in promoting horror and gore.
And some of these “haunted house” attractions are becoming increasingly insensitive, as we have seen with the fundamentalist Christian “Hell Houses” that feature young women getting abortions. One upset woman in Texas told the media that her daughter was subjected to the abortion horror scene, describing thusly: “There was a young lady on a gurney, and two nurses. And one of the nurses was reaching into the lady and pulling out a bunch of gunk, and throwing it on the floor.”
The Hell House people say that scaring people with realistic scenes of abortion and suicide are their effort to “lure people to Jesus by the end of the show.” Sure. Right.
And then there is the horror of history. We saw it in the form of a turkey of a film out this year called Chernobyl Diaries, a horror film about American travelers in Ukraine, who end up attacked by mutants at the ill-fated Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
There was an outcry from the Friends of Chernobyl Centers, U.S. highlighting the filmmaker’s insensitivity to the victims who were injured and killed in the disaster and ignoring the “tragic human consequences” connected to Chernobyl. Critics, we should note, called Chernobyl Diaries a “plot-less mess of disaster porn” and “disgusting.” Sounds about right.
Meanwhile, over in Rockville, Maryland, we see a company called Hallow, Inc. offering a ghastly “attraction” for the local rubes called “The Warehouse – Project:4.1.”
For those unfamiliar with the U.S. Government’s “Project 4.1,” it was the study done of people in the Marshall Islands who were exposed to radioactive fallout in the aftermath of the devastating “Castle Bravo” nuclear test on Bikini Atoll on March 1, 1954.
Specifically, government documents describe the test as “The purposes of (Project 4.1) were to (1) evaluate the severity of radiation injury to the human beings exposed. (2) provide for all necessary medical care, and (3) conduct a scientific study of radiation injuries to human beings.”
It is suspected that the Castle Bravo hydrogen bomb test – which affected native Marshallese, U.S. servicemen and the unlucky fishermen aboard the Lucky Dragon No. 5 Japanese tuna fishing boat – was done deliberately so as to provide the scientists a chance to study people affected. The Marshallese suspected they were “guinea pigs” in a “radiation experiment.” We believe they are right.
With that background, we should now note that Hallow Inc.’s “Project 4.1” attraction -- $30 admission, by the way, “will be a realistic bloody, bio-hazardous warehouse filled with attacking zombies, decaying bodies, vicious military men and much more.”
The “much more,” we think, is their focus on the actual victims aboard Lucky Dragon No. 5. In their twisted history, “The people, the boat and its contents were quarantined and sent to a warehouse in Baltimore, Maryland for further testing. For unknown reasons the project was terminated. In 2012, a private pharmaceutical company, Atomic Advancements, was granted access to the findings of Project 4.1. Lucky Dragon No. 5 and its contents were shipped to a lab in Rockville, Maryland. It was there that something went horribly wrong.”
Of course it is totally awful that Hallow, Inc. would look to profit on the pain and suffering of the actual human beings, like Mr. Akichi Kuboyama, a 40 year-old radio operator aboard Lucky Dragon No. 5, who later died from acute radiation syndrome. We believe what they are doing is unacceptable.
Many would be contaminated by radioactive fallout from the Castle Bravo test. Marshallese are still suffering the affects of Castle Bravo and the dozens of other nuclear tests on their islands all these years later.
According to this week’s edition of The Marshall Islands Journal, the Hallow Inc. “Project 4.1” attraction in Maryland has attracted the attention of Republic of Marshall Islands government officials. They are totally shocked by this sick development, telling the Journal: “This is a sad example of gross insensitivity.” One government minister asked, “Is somebody playing a stupid joke?”
The legacy of nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands is taken very seriously by the people there. The suffering was very real and the dismissive attitude of the American government, who said “Project 4.1” didn’t even happen, only adds insult to injury.
Why not have a Halloween “attraction” involving the victims of Pol Pot’s killing fields? Or the Rwandan genocide? There are plenty examples of man’s violence against man that Hallow, Inc. could use as an “attraction.”
Sure, we like it that people are having fun and are totally against censorship, but when people profit on the pain and suffering of others we have to call them out on it.
And not to be a “party pooper,” but we at Red Dirt Report think it’s time that our culture move past this unhealthy obsession with zombies and vampires and death and get back to the “high-startle, low-gore”-style of Halloween spookiness. Scare people with psychological tools tlike darkness, loud and scary noises. But showing the suffering of the Japanese fishermen of Lucky Dragon No. 5 (which is actually on display at a Tokyo museum now) is not the way to go.
So everyone out there have fun, go to a corn maze or two and get spooked if you want. Keep in mind that the bloody realism may actually have roots in reality. Just something to think about.
Sponsors of this year’s Gazette’s Halloween Parade include Historic Automobile Alley/Downtown OKC, Midtown OKC, St. Anthony Hospital, Banc First, Party Galaxy, Kirkpatrick Foundation, Fox 25, Jagermeister, and Tinker Federal Credit Union’s Buckthenorm.com, among others.
Copyright 2012 Red Dirt Report