A story first reported by Fortune, and later followed up on by iHorror and Dread Central has made the rounds over the past two days. A shopper in a Toronto area Home Depot reported feeling uncomfortable and offended by a display showcasing the “Scary Creeper Peeper” window decoration. The woman stated that the decoration made light of the serious crime of voyeurism and “failed to see the humor” in the decoration. In response, Home Depot has pulled the item from the shelves across all its stores in Canada.
The item in question depicts a man, or in its most terrifying form a circus clown, peering into a window with a lecherous grin on his face, and is meant to be displayed on the outside of a house, with the face looking in to a room from a window. It’s a fairly ingenious idea, and it surely would frighten the pants off an unsuspecting person that stumbles across it. Though the head and hands are the relative same size of the average man, the decoration itself doesn’t look realistic, as the features are very cartoonish.
In general, I’m not one to rail against “social justice warriors” or “the PC Police.” Too often that tact is taken by overly privileged manbabies that rail against their right to act like abusive assholes. In general, it’s a good thing that as a society, we’re looking out for one another, and not having fun at the expense of another person’s pain or trauma. I would also say that as a man, I’m privileged that I don’t have the same worries about sexual assault that women face every day. It’s not my place to tell any person how they should react when confronted with something that reminds them of sexual assault.
That said, there comes a point where as a culture, we swing the pendulum too far in the direction of setting up protective bubbles where the individual’s right to feel offended oversteps the rights of everyone else to carry on in a normal, every day fashion. One person’s right to feel offended, or to create an environment that is free from their “trigger warnings”, that gives them a “safe space” becomes the only possible solution. They want a conflict, and aversion free setting and frankly, the world just doesn’t work like that. There’s always going to be conflict, and there’s going to be things in the world that remind you of some horrible and traumatic event. There’s going to be loudmouthed bullies looking to take you down a peg or three. How you deal with that conflict is going to be what defines you. Gathering up all images, thoughts, art, or yes, even silly decorations that give you offense and burying them away where no one can ever see them-that’s not a strong look.
Most Halloween decorations are meant in good harmless fun. They’re pranks, meant to give someone a momentary jolt and a laugh. That would appear to be the case with the Peeper decoration. It’s a skeleton or witch decoration taken to another level, and in no way does it appear to condone sexual assault. If a decoration like the Peeper offends you is to not buy it. You can choose to not display it in your home. You can choose not to shop at a store that sells it. At the same time, someone offended by this decoration is also within their right to say why it bothers them, and they should be free to do that without fear of harassment.
This is a case where context is key. There has to be a delineation between objects that might be offensive to the individual versus items that serve of symbols of oppression, discrimination and division. The Peeper decoration isn’t the confederate flag. If Home Depot were to start displaying the stars and bars, there would be cause for righteous outrage against a symbol of horrific racism and oppression. When you take up the removal of an innocuous object as your cause, you give it the same kind of power these other symbols contain. In turn, that gives the other side, the side that sees the power of these symbols and fight to keep them present in culture and to wield them as weapons of hatred more ammunition.
Look, there’s no “war on Halloween.” The masses aren’t coming for our trick or treat bags, our horror movies, and our haunted attractions. The last thing anyone should do is harass the person who made the complaint to Home Depot (you know that it’s only a matter of time before that happens). Yes, the item’s off the shelves at Home Depot, but it’s not banned. If you want to hang a Peeper in your window-and boy DO I-there’s plenty of places you can pick one up.