Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 5/11/2011 (2117 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeg Harvest made horrible decision
Trick or treating is over for another year, and what used to be an excuse for innocent little kids in cute costumes to wheedle candy out of amused adults has degenerated into a gory spectacle of the macabre.
Along with it, the "night of the living dead" has gained momentum. Graphic coverage of its participants brought forth a complaint from someone who felt compelled to hide the newspaper before his little children caught sight of the bloody spectacle of people masquerading in rotting flesh. Another reader took issue with the "undead" for smearing his car with the blood and guts of their pseudo-putrid costumes.
I'm sure these two letters to the editor represented the opinion of hundreds of others who fail to see how traumatizing anyone has any justification. How must the many refugees feel, who having beheld the carnage of war firsthand, escaped to Canada only to see similar horrors being imitated as a source of "fun?"
If adults with a convoluted sense of values find pleasure in pretending to be brain-eating zombies, let them congregate in private parties instead foisting their disgusting inclinations on the public at large. Dragging along a bloodied old doll as a zombie baby "because it's just so wrong" while at the same time bragging about getting the whole family involved may have far-reaching ramifications. Do these parents never stop to realize they may be desensitizing their offspring to such real-life atrocities as battered children and abused animals?
What is disappointing in all of this is that, according to press reports, volunteers from Winnipeg Harvest were on hand to take donations during the "night of the living dead." Here we have a well- respected organization otherwise committed to constructive values jumping at the chance to encourage anything but. Is such a charity so desperate for donations that it is willing to compromise its image as good and positive and uplifting for that which represents all that is bloody and negative and destructive? It is another sad example of how society has become so desensitized it sees nothing wrong in encouraging what is unwholesome if it can profit in the long run. Movies have long capitalized on the "shock and awe" factor for those who want to pay for it, as do stores that set up gruesome displays, but I would hope we let no local charity stoop to that level in order to replenish its coffers.
-- Alma Barkman is a Winnipeg freelance writer,
photographer and homemaker
The real horror
goes much deeper
It's certainly not just on Halloween that parents have to be on guard for images their children may find unsettling. A year ago, many were outraged about a front page of the Winnipeg Free Press that featured a picture of Col. Russell Williams in women's lingerie.
As a parent, I cannot shield my child from every scary or disturbing image, including pictures on the front page of the newspaper. The best I can do is to be available to discuss, explain and answer any questions my child may have. I won't always be able to protect her or have the 'right' answer (how do you explain zombies to a toddler?), but that's all part and parcel of being a parent.
In terms of the Winnipeg Zombie Walk, will some children be scared of a group of zombies? Sure. If you think your kids will be frightened, here's one simple solution: don't take them on a zombie walk.
I agree it's unfortunate that someone's car was smeared with fake blood, but that was an exception. As with any public gathering, there will always be a few rotten apples that give the rest a bad name. Organizers actually encourage zombie walk participants to abide by rules that include:
No littering, destruction of property, or any other illegal activity. This includes smearing fake blood, banging on windows, etc. Pretend the location of the walk is your own neighborhood and show the utmost respect.
And just in case it wasn't clear, below this in big capital letters is:
PLEASE DO NOT SMEAR OR SPILL FAKE BLOOD ON WINDOWS, SIDEWALKS, ETC.
Before going any further into zombie walking, it may be useful to learn more about it. Zombie walks grew out of World Zombie Day, an international event spawned by the 2006 Zombie Walk in Pittsburgh, Penn. According to its website, World Zombie Day is "a day when fans of zombie culture join together in an international effort to alleviate world hunger." Further research revealed the two main objectives listed in the Zombie Walk organizers' handbook:
1) Give the participants a fun, safe event
2) Collect food for your local food bank
I applaud Winnipeg Harvest for showing up to collect donations from the living dead. The organization provides emergency food assistance to nearly 58,000 people a month across Manitoba. A fact much scarier than zombie costumes is that this figure is up 21 per cent over the same period last year. Still not frightened? Fifty-one per cent of Winnipeg Harvest clients are children.
I called Winnipeg Harvest and they told me 388 pounds of food and $252.81 in donations were collected at the Winnipeg Zombie Walk. I find it hard to believe the recipients of these donations will be offended that their dinner came from a person who dressed up in a Halloween costume. My suggestion: instead of criticizing how Winnipeg Harvest collects donations, let's follow the zombies' lead and make a contribution to help feed those in need.
-- Alana Odegard is a senior student
in Red River College's creative communications program