Are There REAL Halloween Monsters? Yes Indeed!
Well, it's that time again. Here come the ghosts, the goblins, and all the rest of those cute little wanna-be, once-a-year "monsters"; looking for those sweet treats to fill up their bags.
As well, along comes the annual crop of horror movies, haunted houses, and scary books, magazines, and TV shows. Some of those entertainment efforts use classic old-time monsters and villains, and then too, just about every year, a brand-new crop of horror characters make their debut. For moviemakers, a popular Halloween movie can be a gift that just keeps giving. Like a good Christmas song, there's much money to be made when the annual occasion arises to bring it back again.
Horror tales are not a new phenomenon either. Indeed, tales from centuries past were often as gory, if not more so, than tales told today. There's no doubt in my mind that a large segment of our society simply loves to be terrified, while at the same time, there are many others who do not. A number of churches want nothing whatsoever to do with Halloween, due to what they perceive to be evil and perhaps downright satanic influences. There are also cities that dread Halloween night as well, due to the widespread mischief that can happen.
There is also another group of people who are not particularly fond of horror and/or Halloween-related tales either. This group comprises a number of those who experience physical differences, so-called "disabilities," or perhaps some other condition that might be considered to be "handicapping." While times may be "better" these days for many people experiencing those conditions, the sad historical fact remains that, all too often, the villains in those classic horror stories have been portrayed as being different, deformed, disfigured, handicapped, or mentally ill. Those stereotypes have sometimes traditionally sprung from peculiar religious or social notions that having a physical or mental difference of some sort was a punishment from God to be endured. In my own lifetime, I well recall many stories of left-handed people, for example, suffering terribly due to the irrational superstition that being left-handed made one inferior, or even evil. Inhumane efforts to correct left-handedness were common as late as the 1960's in many schools across America. As a lefty myself, I can personally attest to experiencing a comparatively small amount of that prejudice, not to mention the difficulties encountered sitting in all those right-handed desks. It was really fun to try to achieve some decent level of writing prowess when one's arm was unsupported.
As a person born with multiple so-called "handicapping" conditions, I can also attest to having other numerous negative experiences where other people's pre-suppositions have caused me grief; particularly around the Halloween holiday when people were subliminally reminded again and again on the screens and in books, that people having handicaps were being portrayed as monsters. All of this, of course, carried back into the classrooms where so many special-needs children (then and now) were and still are all too often, teased, picked on, or may otherwise find themselves in difficult situations; due to the irrational prejudices of ignorant people.
Do all of these abuses transpire as a direct result of seeing handicapped people portrayed as villains or monsters in books or in the movies? Of course not. Perhaps there is also some sort of sublime instinct that (in)humankind feels, that some people feel the need to pick on, prey upon, ostracize, or outcast the weakest among their own kind?
Only, they forget one thing:
We "handicapped" people are not weak. In fact, more and more, you will see us succeeding beyond any artificial limitations that others may have placed upon us. I'm also a retired Special Education teacher. Trust me on this one. I know. It is to our credit that so many of us were able to achieve success and even greatness in spite of so many social and personal difficulties that we have experienced from...you. To cite a specific example, I became an educator and writer, but certainly not because of those right-handed desks.
The funny thing here, I mean, the really ironic thing....is that sooner or later, almost everyone will experience some sort of handicapping condition in their lives. Sooner or later, you too will likely have the opportunity to learn what I learned an an early age.... how to live with chronically uncomfortable "differences," and also... how to interact with those who neither understand you, nor your "differences."
So the next time that you curl up with some horror-related book, and read about some disfigured "monster," just think about what so many "disfigured" people in the world would likely feel about what you may be reading.
Then, try and figure out who the REAL monsters are in this world.
It shouldn't be too hard to do, but you might need to look into the mirror first.