Halloween tropes in a COVID-19 world: A thin line between entertaining and insensitive


Source: Pixabay

Joseph Narvaez, Reporter

With the onset of Halloween, ghouls and goblins, along with countless other tropes and creatures once again make an appearance on many people’s front lawns. However, with many of our citizens, friends and family losing loved ones or their own lives during the pandemic, certain Halloween tropes can come-off as over the top and negatively affect people’s feelings.

The myriad of tropes that regularly permeate the Halloween season, often mixed with cute little make-believe goblins to outright gory depictions of potentially-real dangers, can border on bizarre cruelty rather than light-hearted humor after so many months of COVID-19 worries in the back of our heads. 

While many people see Halloween and all the scary symbolism as fun and only entertainment, to many, the all-too-recent reality of death has no fun in it. 

According to NBC, as of Oct. 30, there are 5 million COVID-19 confirmed deaths, with the U.S. holding 740,000 of those deaths. Plenty of people are still trying to grieve these deaths everyday, and the theme of “the living dead” rising from tombstones in your neighbor’s front lawn to wreak havoc on the living do not help this process.

Symbols of the grim reaper may very easily trigger feelings of fear, depression and anger in people worried about COVID-19 related deaths of loved ones or themselves.

In my own Mexican culture, there exists deep-seated spiritual fears and beliefs associated with illness, death and the prospects of finding oneself in heaven or hell. The taunting of laughing spirits wishing to bring loved ones down to the depths of hell can be very unsettling to someone of my background in a time where so many have passed on from COVID-19.

Maniacal doctor costumes, and scenes of awful operations at haunted house displays are also able to create grotesque visions in one’s mind, particularly since COVID-19 restrictions often prevented people from being with their loved ones during hospital stays.

Once the world is beyond COVID-19, people might be ready for mad doctors and grim reapers to make an appearance during Halloween. But given the sensitive nature of the era we are still in, it is advisable to give considerable thought to any Halloween decorating this season.