For some Americans, every day is Halloween
Halloween is a time of the bizarre, of make-believe, of the dark and macabre all supposedly in the spirit of fun.
"But," says David Kupelian, author of the popular new book, "The Marketing of Evil" as usual, truth is stranger than fiction. While Halloween party-goers and 'trick or treaters' dress up to look 'mutilated' or 'bizarre,' countless Americans are caught up with real-life mutilation and beyond outlandish practices stranger and darker than the most imaginative Halloween costumes."
What sorts of practices?
First there's sex. Kupelian exposes how "there seem to be neither boundaries nor taboos anymore when it comes to sex. Anything goes from heterosexual to homosexual to bi, trans-, poly-, and you-don't-want-to-know sexual experiences." One such sexual experience that pushes the extreme end of the envelope is "bug-chasing." "Very simply," writes Kupelian, "bug-chasers are people for whom getting infected with the AIDS virus is the ultimate sexual experience. You heard it right: The main focus of their lives is to seek out sexual encounters that will infect them with HIV."
Body piercing has "progressed from traditional earrings for females, to multiple piercings for both males and females in literally every part of the body the tongue, nose, eyebrow, lip, cheek, navel, breasts, genitals again, things you really don't want to know."
Then there's the national epidemic of self-mutilation, or "cutting" as it is commonly referred to. Countless young Americans, mostly girls, purposely cut their own bodies with razors and knives to obtain relief from emotional conflict.
Tattooing and piercing are just the tip of the "body modification" iceberg. "Ritual scarification and 3D-art implants are also big.
"How about hanging from your skin by hooks?" asks Kupelian "It's called 'suspension.' In literally any other context, this would be considered gruesome torture. But to many people who frequent suspension parties, it's a spiritual experience."
Tongue-splitting is also considered by some to be a positive, spiritual experience. According to Body Modification Ezine, a major online "body mod" site: "The tongue is one of the most immense nervous structures in your body. We have incredibly fine control over it and we receive massive feedback from it. When you dramatically alter its structure and free yourself of the physical boundaries your biology imposes, in some people it triggers a larger freeing on a spiritual level."
In love with death
Why are so many teens in love with the forbidden and bizarre? Why do they find it exciting? (As pop star Britney Spears admitted to an interviewer: "When someone tells me not to do something, I do it, that's just my rebellious nature.")
Why is American culture becoming more and more bizarre, so that every day seems like real-life Halloween?
Kupelian argues that America is becoming increasingly a culture in love with death. "Bug-chasing," suspension, tongue-splitting, radical piercings and the like allow people to feel that they "are moving, not toward death, but toward life and greater 'spirituality,' a more unique and authentic sense of self. Somehow the ritual of pain and mutilation or in extreme cases, death drives out their awareness of inner conflict, replacing it with an illusion of freedom and selfhood."
"The Marketing of Evil" reveals how much of what Americans once almost universally abhorred has been packaged, perfumed, gift-wrapped and sold to them as though it had great value. Highly skilled marketers, playing on our deeply felt national values of fairness, generosity and tolerance, have persuaded us to embrace as enlightened and noble that which all previous generations since America's founding regarded as grossly self-destructive in a word, evil.