In honor of Halloween, we offer up this dark-humored piece by our favorite folk at the Horrible Histories – and wish you lots of treats without a hint of tricks, let alone any witch-burnings.
As a casual observation: it's interesting how in contemporary American popular culture, witches are still regarded as having supernatural powers. They can be malevolent, like the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz, or cheerfully undercover in TV suburbia, like Samantha in Bewitched or Sabrina, the Teen-Aged Witch, or glamorously over-the-top Hollywood with Jack Nicholson, Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Phieffer in The Witches of Eastwick.
But unless you happen to be a high school student laboring through Arthur Miller's The Crucible in English class, there's very little reference to the historical persecution of witches and witchcraft, or to the misogyny, hysteria, and general intolerance tied to them, either. Even the town of Salem, MA, where the most famous American witch trials took place in the 17th c., tends to play up the witches on broomsticks for the tourist trade. Striped stockings, pointed hats, and stick-on warts are what sells at Halloween Adventure.
In other words, modern American witches in the media are all about the paranormal, and very little about the paranoia. As we noted, we don't have any deep historical explanations to offer for this right now (it's the weekend), but please feel free to Discuss Among Yourselves if you wish.
And save us some Reese's Peanut Butter Cups from your goodie bag, okay?
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.