By VERONICA SPAGNA
Halloween is coming soon, meaning that American homes are decorated with pumpkins, ghosts and other original decorations, ready for trick-or-treaters to come on the night of Oct. 31.
This year, just as every year, some homes seemed to have crossed the line using controversial decorations that terrified and profoundly offended viewers. Making us question when do we know when we cross a line? How objective is this issue?
This year, in New Jersey, Kevin and Krysten Negrotto displayed in their front yard a white Toyota all covered in blood. The car was pinning a body against a tree, surrounded with police tape showing a bloody crime scene.
The neighbors of this couple find the display so disturbing that they think it should be considered a crime. The cops showed up at the Negrotto house, with complaints received about the set up from the neighbors who requested its removal.
Kyrsten Negrotto, 27, posted on Facebook saying the officers “LOVED” the display and encouraged them to add more to it. Kyrsten wrote “It’s a free country! … stop wasting these officers’ time on stupid complaints over our HALLOWEEN decor when they could be out saving real lives! It’s all about zombies. It’s about HALLOWEEN.”
The couple has a 5-year-old son, and claimed that it is just for fun and they didn’t mean any harm. Kyrsten Negrotto told a news source “We don’t mean to offend anyone. We do it for the love of Halloween. We just want kids to enjoy like we did as kids.”
Just as the Negrotto family, numerous other homes around the country received criticism, where the police had to intervene by receiving complaints on neighbors for having insulting displays. Many “offensive” decorations went viral and shared on social media. Numerous decorations targeted by angry viewers were not just the ones considered gory, but also displays considered racially and culturally insulting.
In Parishville, N.Y., Michelle Cross displayed a figure forming a circle made from white bedsheets, surrounding a dark-face gorilla hung with a rope around his neck. A passenger took a photo of Cross’s yard and posted it on social media. By the next day, the photo was shared numerous times and had many comments. The comments suggested that the arrangement had racial connotations, as the circle of ghosts was perceived to represent the gathering of the Ku Klux Klan.
Michelle Cross took the gorilla down and just left the ghosts, out of respect to her community. Cross said, “I took it down because a few people in the neighborhood thought it was offensive for some reason,” and added, just like Kyrsten Negrotto “It is simply Halloween.”
The news media covered the stories on Halloween displays well, by including social media comments on the opinion of viewers and the displayers of the decor. One important area the reporters did not cover in the articles is the opinion of political public figures on the issue, which should also be present to address people on their freedom of expression.
The issue of offensive Halloween decorations is a very controversial topic. Displays, such as Michelle Cross’s, are open to interpretation and the fact that some people viewed it as a racial overturn is demonstrating their own subjective truth and negative view of the world. I do feel like people have the right to display whatever they think is appropriate for Halloween. If the neighbors or passersby have an issue with the display, then they can simply not look at it instead of calling the police.