Scepticism, Halloween and the Frankenstorm
Through the eyes of a sceptic Halloween is a bizarre ritualistic occurrence, the one time of year when people get to shed their masks for hideous costumes. This stain on the calendar provides a superior form of nostalgia to all the other rituals pertained to annually, mainly due to the opportunity to engage in escapism. A behaviour that would lead some clinical psychologists to observe that “In its core, escapism means that most people, due to unsatisfying circumstances, again and again cause to ‘leave’ the reality in which they live in a cognitive and emotional way” (Vorderer, 2001). So in many ways Halloween has left its roots of ghost stories and children tales to become a kind of abstract mental holiday or even an artistic experience akin to a cinematic excursion. However, the horrid events of this week will have tested the staunchest of sceptics and perhaps instilled the terror that this time of year truly should….
The author of this letter acquired a novel word to his vocabulary at the commencement of all Hallos’ week, a term that may be the only adequate verb imaginable to account for the corruption that was to follow. The devastating hurricane Sandy, which permanently altered the lives of several families who lost loved ones to this tragic natural occurrence, was dubbed by TIME magazine to be a ‘Frankenstorm’. A perfect storm has been described as an event involving a rare combination of circumstances that aggravate a situation drastically, for Sandy this involved its collision with a Northern blockage which increased its magnitude as it hit both the land and the Western storm system. The combination of circumstances that arrived later in the week will do more than aggravate art lovers; it may even terminate their love of film indefinitely. Now, one can always expect a considerable argument to the idea of classifying film as art but strict adherence to Ruskin’s definition combats such accosts: “art is greatest which conveys to the mind of the spectator, by any means whatsoever, the greatest number of the greatest ideas” (Ruskin, 1870). If the quantity of great ideas is calculated by sheer amount of influence, it is difficult to comprehend a more influential work than George Lucas’ Star Wars. Beginning with the 1971 Star Wars, Lucas managed to encapsulate his audience through the vicarious vehicle of cinematic production qualities, storylines and entertainment. Lucas then emphatically enhanced the brilliance of his creation with The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983). The impact of this series is illustrated by the fact that it provoked a movement in English speaking countries in 2001 to fight for the right to record their religion as Jedi on the national census. Obviously one could argue that Lucas’ prequel trilogy of The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002), and Revenge of the Sith (2005) had already diminished the artistic integrity of his product but akin to Halloween they could be forgiven for the nostalgia and escapism they provided. So his decision to sell the rights of his Star Wars ‘franchise’ to the Disney corporation for $4.5 billion dollars, can only be described as the most decadent ‘Frankenstorm’ to hit cinema goers since Tim Burton’s butchering of The Planet of the Apes (2001). The cretins of this Hollywood corporation were swift to announce that the 7th, 8th, and 9th Star Wars episodes are on the way! This will undoubtedly involve a systematic destruction of every aspect that made these films great and what will George Lucas think as he watches this decay of his sublime creation, not a lot I suspect, you don’t need to consider these things when you’re richer than some countries.
So in a week that saw a devastating hurricane attack one of the richer capitals of the western world, film undergo a mimesis of nature and traumatically this author just heard Jedward’s version of the Ghostbusters theme song, even sceptics may have to consider the spook ridden aspects of this pagan ritual…..