Hollywood Gothique
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Halloween Horror Night for Real?

Edmundton Sun’s Lifestyle section offers a dire warning about this Halloween: Adults, frustrated by the sad state of the world, will take this one-night opportunity to act out all their repressed aggressions. What’s weird about the article is that it neglects to mention the obvious: Halloween offers a safe, socially acceptable pressure valve for blowing off steam. Instead, the article is written as if we are going to see some horrible group Id unleashed:

“We are going to see a night of predation like we have never seen. People will be completely out of control,” says Dr. Leslie Pam.

Grim economic distress will see “revellers over-revelling” on the dark side, says Pam, an L.A. therapist. “The average person can’t control what’s going on out there so this gives them the opportunity to rebel, to cut loose.”

According to Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil, adults will likely over-indulge in Halloween “to overcorrect fear and aggression that they’re feeling every day, especially with the financial crisis going on. It’s a way to get rid of anxieties about money.”

Personally, I find this thesis unconvincing. Or to put it less politely, it’s absolutely ridiculous. In the context of the current presidential election, we don’t need to point to Halloween as provoking people to act out their worst impulses. They already have that opportunity, at rallies for John McCain and Sarah Palin, where the supporters increasingly resemble throngs of torch-wielding villagers in a FRANKENSTEIN film.

UPDATE: Leaving hysteria aside, this Wall Street Journal article cites survey results from adults who say that Halloween is a wonderful opportunity to escape from the stress and fear of the real world.