Ghoulish Fiends —
Trigger warning: Dickish behavior toward fat people ahead. Hat tip to Diann Johns for sharing the video below.
You know what terrifies me? Assholes.
They’re a lot like zombies: they look like you and me, they often travel in packs, their bites are contagious, and they lack a functioning intelligence of their own, so they feed on the brains of others.*
And like the Zombie Apocalypse, the great asshole hordes have descended upon this country like a plague of self-absorbed, superficial locusts.
Sadly, the victims of the Asshole Apocalypse are often unaware of the plague until it’s too late. Perhaps they hadn’t heard. Perhaps they were sitting at a cafe enjoying a cup of coffee when they see a stranger shambling up the street, his face devoid of all thought or emotion. Only when it’s too late, when the asshole is upon them, does the victim realize the true nature of the threat posed by a seemingly innocuous simpleton.
One biting remark, one hurtful snicker, one disdainful glance and you’re infected.
You feel the transformation on the inside first. Your mood darkens, your attitude sours, and now you feel like spreading a little hatred of your own. Maybe you’ll go on to judge that hipster with the horn-rimmed glasses or the mother whose kids are a little too rambunctious or the pedestrian who doesn’t cross the street fast enough.
What had been a beautiful, peaceful day has now been ruined by one, vicious asshole.
The asshole virus has been spreading across this great nation for decades, gradually pushing our society in the direction of indifference, intolerance and injustice. It’s most apparent in the media, where assholes like Daniel Tosh are lavished with money and attention for being as cruel and hurtful as possible toward those who dare to stand out from the crowd.
Sadly, the Asshole Apocalypse has even crept into Halloween. Halloween is supposed to be the time of year when our differences vanish between plywood halls at the haunted houses that spring up around the country. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white, gay or straight, thin or fat; being scared is a universal human experience that we have learned to mold into a form of hair-raising entertainment.
It’s fun to be scared, but what isn’t fun is when you visit a haunted house and you see a prop or a costume or a scene that is based on society’s repulsion toward you.
At the 2011 Halloween & Attractions Show in St. Louis, a showcase for the Halloween and haunted house industries, one animatronic prop sought to capitalize on the public’s disgust and contempt toward fat people. This is pretty disgusting, so watch at your own risk.
Like the offal-smeared love child of Mr. Creosote from The Meaning of Life and Pearl from Blade, the company that made this robot has capitalized on all the worst instincts people hold regarding fat Americans. It doesn’t even matter if you’re as fat as the robo-fatty shown here. The message is that if you’re fat, you pretty much stay in bed all day, dripping with chicken grease and bodily fluids, shitting yourself and grinning while you raise your leg to waft the stench from your lazy ass.
Now, there are many, MANY stigmatized groups out there, but I’m curious if anyone can think of a single example of those groups, and their stereotypes, being professionally exploited to this end. Have you ever seen a haunted house (not counting the fundamentalist Hell Houses) that featured flamboyant gay zombies fucking violently? Or maybe black zombies threatening to steal your stuff? Or how about zombie terrorist Muslims?
Yes, you can find examples from ignorant assholes, like this douchebag who dressed up as a zombie Muhammad (and who was subsequently confronted and allegedly attacked for it, though the charges were dismissed). But I cannot find a single example of a professional prop company creating anything as incendiary or disrespectful toward any of those groups. But for fatties, it’s fucking hilarious.
This is what truly terrifies me. It is generally accepted that the world is stuck with assholes, since they have been around since time began. But society typically shuns them, especially when assholes target vulnerable groups. But when it comes to being an asshole toward fatties, society continues to justify this behavior as being “for their own good.”
Society has simply turned a blind eye to the hateful rhetoric and the abusive behavior because fat people repulse them, plain and simple. There is no humanitarian or health reasons.
So, where society might otherwise be more vigilant against the Asshole Apocalypse, we have turned a blind eye because we don’t mind seeing those disgusting fatties put in their place.
And, sadly, that place seems to be on display in a haunted house, where assholes, along with ordinary people, can be reminded of why it’s perfectly okay to ravage another person’s self-worth.
*If you subscribe to the belief that George Romero is the father of the modern zombie mythology, then you would scoff at the idea that zombies crave brains. The “braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaains” cliché comes from The Return of the Living Dead (1985), the goofy sequel to Romero’s intense Night of the Living Dead (1968). The team behind RotLD took liberties with the Romero franchise by giving the zombies rudimentary vocalization (hence the well-known groan for “braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaains”). Romero did not retain the rights to the “Living Dead” franchise, and therefore created his own sequels, Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985), which operate under the same basic rules outlined in the original and are supposed to take place after NotLD. Oh, and real zombies don’t run… rigor mortis, people. This bit of zombie trivia brought to you by my year-long obsession with zombie movies.