One of my favourite scenes, among many, from Monty Python and The Holy Grail, is when Eric Idle’s character calls on everyone to “bring out your dead” during the time of the Black Plague.
The poor sod who is collected for the cart, claiming not to be dead, is tear-inducing funny.
Yes, it’s sometimes OK to laugh at the macabre as a way to escape the truly morbid.
It may take the antics of Monty Python to make one laugh in the eye of death –– not the most comforting subject to say the least–– but anyone out there disturbed by those bloodied images of Moammar Gadhafi, and then the celebration afterwards about his death, may want to think about the images that we project about violence, and death –– especially as Halloween approaches.
We are faced with death through imagery all the time, so much so that we’ve become completely desensitized to it.
I am guilty of that, as I tend to relate death to scenes in movies.
And believe me, I think those disturbed by images of Gadhafi’s demise would have been better off watching something like Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator.
In making fun of monsters, we relegate them to their place in history: never to be celebrated, but never to be forgotten.
However, I digress.
It’s those inescapable images, and yes that includes films and TV, that I blame for my six-year-old child’s recent fascination for darker subjects.
Up until now, she has been quite content to dress up as a fairy princess, or cute little bug, for Halloween. However, this year she declared she wanted to be a vampire –– and not the Twilight “beautiful sparkly skin” kind, but the full-on Lestat.
Bram Stoker, be damned.
She wanted the black cape, the fangs, the blood, and deathly pale skin. Where she got this imagery from is beyond me. The closest thing she’s ever seen to a vampire is The Count from Sesame Street, although she has been exposed to those vampire dolls that are marketed to kids. (Does anyone find something mildly disturbing about that?)
Of course, when she told me what she wanted to be, I balked.
“Wouldn’t you prefer to be a rainbow coloured unicorn like last year,” I suggested, thinking it’s not her fault, it’s her genes.
I, after all, lived by the moniker that “everyday is Halloween” in my goth-phased youth.
With my arguments meeting with disdain, I searched out a costume.
A visit to the dollar store proved my theory. Death is everywhere you look. And going by the amount of fake blood and dismembered limbs, it’s pretty clear, it isn’t pretty.
I passed on the blood, opting for black lipstick and nail polish (ahhh, the good ol’ days), and went with a long, dark wig and sparkly accoutrements (OK the Twilight thing may have played a part.) Upon seeing my purchases, she changed her mind about her costume.
“I think I’ll be a witch, mommy,” she said.
Maybe it’s time she saw The Wizard of Oz… but at least a witch is not a dead bloodsucker!
Halloween is a good time to remind kids what is real, and what isn’t. It may be hard for them to understand the difference between a white-sheeted ghost and a dearly departed family member, but at least it gives parents a chance to talk about death openly and in their own way if the subject does come up.
And as your little monsters get ready to knock on doors for tricks or treats Monday night, it’s also good to know that most of them are still innocent to the real horrors in this world.
–– Kristin Froneman is the arts editor at The Morning Star.