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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

It'll Slay You

In New York City, a serial-killer themed open house will be going on this Hallowe'en. It includes the sound of people being electrocuted, killers jumping out at you (If I had a dollar for every time my brother's black-clad and strange-looking friends jumped out at me under cover of darkness, I might have a million to pay for the rapid heart palpitations I suffered.)

Families of victims of serial killers from John Wayne Gacy's to the charmer and former suicide phone-line operator, Ted Bundy, to those of Jeffrey Dahmer, are saying, "Um... woah..."
One particularly lurid image, even in flat 2-D is one "honoring" Elizabet Bathory, the Romanian Countess who forwent standard treatments at her time, and thought that the pain, and the death and blood of young girls trusted to her care was better for her skin, which is shown here: the Gothamist

The operator says: "Those (relatively recent murderers) are mythological by this point, and I didn't use anyone in the Tri-State area!"

People like to be terrified. To an extent. A very old murder, so old, its' photographic evidence is a shade of fading peachy-orange-to-black, where dossiers on the criminal are quaintly oversharing: "He is 32, with a medium build, sallow complexion, syphilis scars, black hair and black eyes that look like slits." in graceful handwriting you'd be hard-pressed to see come out of a male these days, where the lurid and sometimes shocking details acquire a patina of age, are interesting. Not something I'd look into re-creating, but interesting,
"We shouldn't mythologize murderers!"
Leonidas was tossed in a discussion somewhere---a needless massacre after the battle of Sepeia.
William the Conqueror? He had his share of blood on his hands.
Henry VIII! Not just the unfortunate Catherine, who was sick and neglected, but Anne and Katherine the Second to Last. And the Bishop of Rochester. And  Thomas Cromwell, after the disastrous marriage to Anne of Cleeves. Thomas Moore. A sketch of him on a talk show had the producers bringing his "friends" out to him on stretchers and wheel chairs.
Of all the mothers in laws at the end of his life when his 6'3"  frame packed on the pounds, while they could all say, "This is my fat, syphilictic son-in law"- only a few were right... he was legally married only 3 times.
The Borgias---although the song about them is adorable, and kudos for having Alexander VI played by a man stuffing his cheeks Brando-style and still singing!--- we are alternatively turned off, shocked, disgusted, but never far from curiosity. (They say Mario Puzo vaguely based his titular godfather on Borgia... but the cheek stuffing was Brando's own.)
While we're at it, many cheer for mobsters! They're fascinating!

What does this say about us as a culture?
We live to thrill ourselves, we love a shock. We can't live in bubble wrap. But how much a shock is too much a shock? Where does that end and good taste begin? Is there good taste on Halloween?

Every costume has the capability to irritate someone.
For all of you going as Strawberry Shortcake, think of all the poor little cupcakes out there who toil ceaselessly, never getting their due...

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