Human Dignity in Halloween Culture?

| October 31, 2017

When Halloween rolls around, especially in American culture, we see a wide array of films and entertainment centered around zombies, vampires, monsters, and horror.

But whether we realize it or not, these films—sometimes icons of culture—involve much violence and gore. We embrace this blood and gore without thinking about it, as if it’s completely normal. But why? Isn’t violence wrong, no matter in what form we are accepting it?

Some, like a blog writer for the Center of Research on Globalization, believe that this culture is very harmful, because it desensitizes us to violence and situations that dehumanize peoples. What’s more, the writer argues that these films involving robots, zombies, and the like promote a culture of dehumanization; the writer even terms it a “post-humanism” that disregards the goodness of the human person.

However, I myself enjoy all of the festivities of Halloween, including the films—and I think there is even something we can learn from them about human dignity.

Instead of seeing these Halloween films as focusing on dehumanization, why not focus on the battles between good and evil that are inherent to many of these movies. In this case, those that do evil are usually not human: they are vampires, zombies, robots, etc. And those that fight for the good against them are humans: they promote goodness and the protection of others human dignity. Even in a story like The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde we see the dehumanization of a person as a result of evil actions and impulses. In Frankenstein we see a man turn his scientific work into an evil against humanity, and he produces a terrorizing monster as a result of his efforts.

As fictional and fantastical as these stories can be, the heart of many of them is the goodness of humanity battling against a harm and threat to human dignity. We may not recognize this connection at first, but it relates to our own everyday efforts to promote human dignity in various roles and occupations. And while these stories may still involve much violence, we can always keep in mind the battle of good and evil that this violence symbolizes, recognizing that our own defenses against evil will have the same passion and vigor, but come through different means of dialogue and articulation.

Happy Halloween!