With Halloween now in our rearview mirror, I find myself recalling when it used to be such a pleasant and harmless affair, with images of Peanuts characters dressed as witches or paper-bag shrouded scamps or hobgoblins (whatever they are) trudging from door to door, emitting the obligatory “Trick or Treat,” knowing that the tricks were non-existent and treats were plentiful, sometimes even nutritious? Can’t get scarier than that.
You can, of course. Halloween has since degenerated into a witch’s Sabbath of severed heads, bursting entrails, walls dripping blood—in fact, everything sort of oozes blood these days—all in a grotesquerie of horrors featuring vampires, zombies of various persuasions, and assorted monsters whose fright coefficient is greatly augmented by darker imaginations using special effects. Then, just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, some Horrors ‘R Us outfit concocted the most chilling scene of them all: a group of children from the future singing about the miseries of America whose parents made the wrong choice, presumably in the 2012 election:
“We are the children, builders of the future. And we the children swear to thee. Loyal devotion. Fearless devotion. And to die with dignity.”
“And to die with dignity?” What’s this all about? Actually, these lines are extracted from the hiking song in George Orwell’s “1984,” which is another possibility for our future. You can tell the difference between the two versions by the kind of future that liberal superstitions have limned: a landscape of strip mines, oil soaked seas, poisoned air, dead polar bears, endless wars, and, gasp! Big Bird is sacked! That sort of stuff. And the children singing this are straight from a Stephen King novel, mechanical voices emitting sounds against a charcoal-draped background. Chilling. Talk about your October surprise.