Saturday, October 30, 2010

For Halloween: Witchfinders Direct (another silly historical video)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

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?


Richard Foster said...

Also appropriate for all the invidious finger-pointing that's been going on this last week before election day. Maybe we should consider burning a politician or two for real change in Washington.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this.
My daughter Olivia is indeed labo(u)ring through The Crucible in English class, here in Scotland. They're having to read out parts of the play in class - in flat, bored (for the most part) Scottish accents. I can just picture it. Olivia says she'd probably enjoy the play if she could just be left to read it in peace.
Anyway, I'm forwarding this post to her to lighten up her studies a wee bit.

Anonymous said...

PS I love your blog!
I featured you in my own blog recently, in the "Internet Gems" post < >

Emma J said...

Too funny!!! love the cat in jail.
Happy Hallow's Eve, everyone!

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Richard, I'm personally staying clear of all political commentary - though please feel free to read into the video anything you please. *g*

Marian D, thank you so much for your kind words for our blog!
And having seen my own children display much the same enthusiasm for "The Crucible" as your daughter, I can assure you that whether Scottish teenagers or American, the general affect is probably much the same. Not pretty, is it?

Emma J., hope you had a splendid Halloween, too!

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