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Some Halloween horrors just go too far

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Your Red Dirt Reporter tends to be an old-fashioned, jack-o-lantern kind of Halloween guy.
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By Andrew W.
Griffin

Red
Dirt Report
, editor

Posted: October 13, 2012

reddirtreporter@gmail.com

OPINION

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

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Andrew W. Griffin

Editor & Owner.

Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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