It is widely recognized that our holidays are increasingly enmeshed with commercial interests. Here at Pink Sheep Media, we like to pay attention to the interplay between consumerism, advertising and culture.
We found this ad and then we read a little closer.
“Bring the whole family to Hillside for Malloween. Events include a bouncy castle, face painting, crafts and treats galore. Don’t forget your costume!”
Halloween is a time to engage with fear. It’s a time where some believe that the border that separates the dead from the living becomes more permeable. The origins of this celebration are varied, but largely pagan. When Christians co-opted it, it became All Saints Day – or, if you’d like All-Hallow-Even (which means eve of all Saints). The word halloween has the same root as holy and health.
You know, on one hand, Hillside Mall is putting on a community event. Parents are probably relieved to have a safe, indoor, fun place to take their kids for Halloween. Even if it is a mall.
But we think it’s ironic that Halloween is the one holiday where we can engage with fear head-on but this ad turns Halloween into a fluffy piece of comedy. In the fine print below the main content of the ad it says:
“Adults are not permitted to wear masks or have their faces fully painted in the shopping centre. No accessories resembling a weapon permitted.”
When we first read the punchline, we thought it was a purposeful double-entendre, as in ‘I smell Visa’! The event is, after all, being held in a mall. Get out your plastic. Of course, the joke is about the silly mask. But what’s not funny is the way our culture of fear has been masked under the guise of safety. What used to be an event that brought neighbours together, has now become just another consumer experience. With mall security to keep us safe.
Fear is present in the ad. It’s just been moved into the background.