Church and school leaders protest Busch Gardens Halloween attraction

Posted Monday, October 18, 2010 11:50 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Holly Strader, youth pastor of Ignited Church, said at a news conference Thursday that Busch Gardens' Howl-O-Scream show, "Revenge Rocks," is targeted at youth and sends the message that retaliation is acceptable. And she sees a parallel between the show, which she says appeals to teenagers, and the real-life problem of bullying.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010 3:16 AM

^Kids have been gobbling up macabre tales of revenge for decades, this is nothing new. The horror comics of the 50s were all various violent stories of revenge or some sort of punishment for a wrong doing. While the comics were forced to clean up, these similar themes were carried on through the years in television and film and in much more gruesome ways. Blaming a theme park Halloween show as a source of problem seems silly to me since it's based on a theme that's been recycled for decades.

Technology is the big difference now, not the macabre stuff. The current internet culture encourages you to tell a complete stranger that you think their comment is stupid rather than just saying you disagree. You probably wouldn't say that to a stranger you struck up a converstation with, but it's perfectly acceptable in most forums. At the same time I might not be as sarcastic with a complete stranger, but then again I probably would.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010 8:55 AM
ApolloAndy's avatar

To me the parenting thing comes down to about 10% protectimg kids from a message and about 90% helpin them to differentiate between fact and fiction once they inevitably encounter the message you're shielding them from.

That said I wouldn't let my kids go to any Halloween event until they're clearly able to articulate that it's complete fantasy.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010 9:40 AM
Tekwardo's avatar

Would anybody here be saying, eh, let them go, it's just for fun?

Well, I wouldn't have a 'problem' with it like I don't have any issues with this...in the context. Without trying to sound like a hypocrite, I would be fine if entertainment didn't have any sexual, violent, or spiritistic/occult undertones at all, and I agree that children do act on what they see.

Having said that, I don't think these events are meant for kids, and I wouldn't allow my children (if I had any) to go at any until they were 18 and were legally allowed to make such decisions.

I do believe it is the parent's responsibility to make decisions about their child's entertainment. Just because a form of entertainment is offered doesn't mean that a parent should just let their child participate in it. I do think children are impressionable, but I also think it comes down to parents finding out what works.

But...I also agree this:

Even people who think they're doing a fantastic job can end up with unintended results. There are plenty of parents who are surprised what their little angels or perfect children get caught doing.

In the end, you could have been the best parent ever, but children grow into adults and make their own decisions. A good parent, or even a parent who thought they were doing good could end up having a child that makes poor decisions in life, just like a child with terrible parents could end up becoming a stable member of society.

My kid will know right and wrong by way of me being a parent, and understand what's fantasy and fiction because we'll talk about it.

I tend to agree with that in that parents most often teach their child morals. Granted, that doesn't always mean the child will grow up to accept that teaching, but that doesn't mean he doesn't know the morals his parents taught him.

I don't need these kinds of people "protecting" my kid from stuff.

In the end, I agree with this the most. My parents did the parenting for me. Other people didn't need to 'protect the children' from potentially inappropriate forms of entertainemnt because my parents did that.


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Tuesday, October 19, 2010 12:04 PM
Jeff's avatar

RatherGoodBear said:
It's repeated and repeated over and over in our society that lack of respect for others is OK and it's actually cool to be vengeful. Where do people get the idea that it's fine to videotape your roommate having sex and posting it on YouTube? Where do kids get the idea that it's OK to pick on other kids brutally? It doesn't just pop into their heads. It's observed and learned.

A fantasy Halloween story is suddenly responsible for all of that? Come on man, this is scapegoating at its worst, and before it was Halloween, it was rock-n-roll, dancing, movies and books. It's not even a new theme. Scorned lovers have been in pop culture for hundreds of years.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010 1:37 PM
Carrie M.'s avatar

Yeah, putting the "protect the kids" angle aside, it makes me slightly uncomfortable to pass off as a form of entertainment something that could easily be seen on the evening news on any given day. It's not unlike the movies, though. The same thing happens there.

I think it's hard to argue that these types of shows/movies have the potential consequence of desensitizing people to the horror of it happening in real life. Not unlike how seeing war footage on the news every night eventually makes people lose some of their awareness of how horrific those images really are.

Eh, I think it's worth pausing a second and giving it a little more thought before dismissing it.


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010 2:20 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

I agree with that 100%.

My only complaint here is that people have the right to decide if they want to participate in this activity, and Parents should be responsible for what their kids participate in, and the fact that this particular type of violence is the target here when really if you're against this, you shouldn't make a point of saying "But we're not attacking the other forms of violence or any of that demonic stuff, in the name of our religion, ya know".

And truth be told, when I first heard about the theme for this event, before any of this, I thought that it wouldn't be something I'd likely approve of as a theme. But of course that's me making my own decisions.


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Tuesday, October 19, 2010 2:37 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

I think it's another instance of people not giving kids enough credit in a self-regulating situation.

My take is that if the kids are old enough to be doing Howl-O-Scream, then they're old enough to understand the difference between right and wrong, reality and fiction.

Decided to take a looksee and the Howl-O-Scream website even states you must be 18+ to enter the site and the disclaimer that "This year's event contains intense adult content such as violence, blood and gore."

No sure how that translates to getting the massage across to people visiting the park, but if you look online for info, you know what you're getting into.

Seems to me that this isn't harming anyone. It's no different than a PG-13 (or maybe R) rated movie. Trying to shut it down is akin to censorship to me.

Then again, I'm the guy who'd like to see these sort of things push the envelope even further.


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Tuesday, October 19, 2010 2:43 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

My take is that if the kids are old enough to be doing Howl-O-Scream, then they're old enough to understand the difference

the even states you must be 18+ to enter the site and the disclaimer that "This year's event contains intense adult content such as violence, blood and gore."

I definitely think there are children that can and do self regulate, but not all children can, and that's where the parenting comes in. And it seems that this event is intended for adults, which, to me, says if a parent decides to let the child go, then it's up to the Parents to deal with that decision.

Just like a rated R movie. Having worked at a movie theater, the rule there was that an adult had to actually accompany anyone under 17 to a rated R movie. Obviously there isn't a rule here, but in either case, the Parent should be the responsible party making the decisions.

And yes, I agree that this is censorship (or at least attempted sensorship).


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Tuesday, October 19, 2010 3:31 PM

I think parks should be able to determine what they offer in terms of attractions. Let folks know what they have to offer and let the public decide if they want to go there. If a park wants to tone down Halloween attractions to get a more G rated audience, fine. If it doesn't, that is fine too. And parents have to take responsibility for what they let their kids do. Much of what is on TV, in movies, etc. isn't appropriate for kids but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be there. And if groups want to speak out against attractions at parks, fine. Maybe they will influence some folks to change what they do and maybe they won't.

I told my kids years ago that everything that we do from now until they leave the house is in preparation for the day when my wife and I won't be there to watch over them. They make mistakes along the way just like we have as parents. You can only shield them so long.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010 4:16 PM

Jeff said:

RatherGoodBear said:
It's repeated and repeated over and over in our society that lack of respect for others is OK and it's actually cool to be vengeful. Where do people get the idea that it's fine to videotape your roommate having sex and posting it on YouTube? Where do kids get the idea that it's OK to pick on other kids brutally? It doesn't just pop into their heads. It's observed and learned.

A fantasy Halloween story is suddenly responsible for all of that? Come on man, this is scapegoating at its worst, and before it was Halloween, it was rock-n-roll, dancing, movies and books. It's not even a new theme. Scorned lovers have been in pop culture for hundreds of years.

No, I didn't say one Halloween attraction was responsible for all that. I believe that our society allows certain messages to be repeated over and over until they become the norm. The people who did those things I mentioned above see absolutely nothing wrong with what they did, and often times neither do their parents. If the people supposedly providing the guidance and teaching morals think that way, then where do we head from there?

Perhaps they should add an attraction depicting people being shoved while getting into line for roller coasters.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010 4:20 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

They have that attraction already, it's called an ACE Buffet. ;)


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Tuesday, October 19, 2010 4:22 PM
Jeff's avatar

So Busch Gardens is "providing the guidance and teaching morals" with their Halloween attractions?


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010 4:34 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

RatherGoodBear said:
Perhaps they should add an attraction depicting people being shoved while getting into line for roller coasters.

Well, that wouldn't be scary unless you were shoving them onto the track in front of incoming trains...and even then, "meh." ;)

But more to your point, so what if they did add an attraction like that? People weren't doing that because they saw it at some halloween haunt somewhere, they did it because they were dickheads.

It would be art imitating life, not the other way around.

Which sorta goes exactly against your argument.


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Wednesday, October 20, 2010 4:00 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
I think it's another instance of people not giving kids enough credit in a self-regulating situation.

My take is that if the kids are old enough to be doing Howl-O-Scream, then they're old enough to understand the difference between right and wrong, reality and fiction.

Decided to take a looksee and the Howl-O-Scream website even states you must be 18+ to enter the site and the disclaimer that "This year's event contains intense adult content such as violence, blood and gore."

No sure how that translates to getting the massage across to people visiting the park, but if you look online for info, you know what you're getting into.

Seems to me that this isn't harming anyone. It's no different than a PG-13 (or maybe R) rated movie. Trying to shut it down is akin to censorship to me.

Then again, I'm the guy who'd like to see these sort of things push the envelope even further.

Excellent points man and very true. Kids are quite smart even more so than they used to be "Back in my day". The problem is too many parents don't give them enough credit for how smart they really are. Kids love the positive reinforcement and it only helps to continue to build trust with them. That is the case in all 3 of my kids. My two older ones that are in school are heavily involved with The Arts and are both Honor Roll Students.


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Sunday, October 24, 2010 12:30 AM

Lord Gonchar said:

RatherGoodBear said:
Perhaps they should add an attraction depicting people being shoved while getting into line for roller coasters.

Well, that wouldn't be scary unless you were shoving them onto the track in front of incoming trains...and even then, "meh." ;)

But more to your point, so what if they did add an attraction like that? People weren't doing that because they saw it at some halloween haunt somewhere, they did it because they were dickheads.

It would be art imitating life, not the other way around.

Which sorta goes exactly against your argument.

To which I would argue that the majority of people are dickheads because our society tells them it's OK to be a dickhead. Our society encourages people to be dickheads who care only about themselves, and other people only to the extent they help you along in your dickheadedness.

If you want to be first in line for the next coaster, you go right ahead and push those other people out of the way. If your boy or girlfriend cheats on you, it's not just OK to do something harmful to get back at them- getting revenge actually rocks. Because it's all about you, and what you want. The vast majority of the problems we face in society today come from self-centeredness in one form or another.

I don't care if Busch or any other park depicts zombies, clowns, blood and gore, people run over by a roller coaster, or psychos with chainsaws. Because I don't believe that any of those things has a message beyond "we're trying to scare you." I don't think this show has that same message. It sounds like a poor ripoff of "A Cask of Amontillado," but I never got the feeling we were supposed to be sympathetic toward Montresor like it appears they want us to feel towards Sylvie.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010 11:58 PM
Jeff's avatar

It seems like when you're not blaming "the media" you're blaming "society." Did it ever occur to you that maybe people are dickheads just because they choose to be? Why do you give them a free pass by blaming someone else?

That you make a literary reference only reinforces my point, that there's always some kind of entertainment to blame. This is fiction. Most people understand the difference between fiction and reality. Shall we ban books as well?


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

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Monday, October 25, 2010 12:49 PM

Nice to know you follow me around editorializing almost every one of my posts, and getting it wrong as usual. Where am I giving anyone a free pass here? Where did I say that society or the media "makes" people act like dickheads and that people have no control over their own behavior?

I did say that society and the media encourages and tolerates, in some cases even glorifies such behavior. There are few consequences for people who act selfishly from the top to the bottom of our society... oops, am I not allowed to mention that word? If you can act like a dickhead, and nothing happens to you because of it, what incentive is there to change your behavior? If nobody says "this isn't the right way to behave" things won't change. But some people apparently interpret that as a call for banning books. You think I want Edgar Allen Poe banned? Man, you're really scraping the bottom of the barrel here to prove your point.

You're the one who doesn't understand, which of course doesn't surprise me. The point is not whether it's fiction or reality. The difference is the context of the message and how it's received. Revenge has been portrayed in books, movies, etc. for ages. But most rational, normal people are creeped out by the idea of one person sealing another behind a brick wall to die as revenge for some unspecified wrong. We're supposed to be disturbed by Montresor's behavior. And I don't care if you're talking about the fictional Caputels and Montagues or the real Hatfields and McCoys or Arabs and Jews, few people think that the constant need for revenge makes any sense at all. In the Revenge Rocks shows, is there anything that is supposed to disturb us about a girl who kills her boyfriend then becomes a rock star? Or are we supposed to applaud her ambition and empowerment? To me, that makes a difference. To others, apparently not.

You can tell your kid 1000 times a day what's acceptable behavior and what isn't. You can tell your kid that what's portrayed in a fictional work isn't how people should treat each other. How do you deal with the kids who parents tell them that violent behavior is OK, or don't teach them anything at all? When it comes down to it, what makes your values more important than any other parents'? Hint: it's that thing we call "society" that generally decides what's acceptable and what's not.

Jeff said:
Did it ever occur to you that maybe people are dickheads just because they choose to be?

About 95% of the time I read one of your posts.

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Monday, October 25, 2010 1:02 PM
Jeff's avatar

Wow, take it ad hominem and make it personal. You're crossing a line, man, and I don't care for it. That's super classy and really makes for an awesome debate. There's almost nothing in your rant to even respond to.

So what parents tell their kids that "violent behavior is OK?" Do you really think some kid is going to go to Busch Gardens and say, "Oh, Busch says it's OK to kill my ex, I'm so going to do that this weekend?"


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Music: The Modern Gen-X - Video

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Monday, October 25, 2010 1:06 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

RatherGoodBear said:
The difference is the context of the message and how it's received. In the Revenge Rocks shows, is there anything that is supposed to disturb us about a girl who kills her boyfriend then becomes a rock star? Or are we supposed to applaud her ambition and empowerment?

Well, yeah its supposed to be disturbing - that's why it's a haunt attraction. It's meant to be scary, weird and disturbing. It's not exactly a feel-good story.

Seems to me the confusion here is the difference between celebrating Halloween and celebrating the themes of Halloween.

Perhaps it's not spelled out enough for some people, but I think the idea is that it's a given that this sort of action is bad. Because if you don't think this kind of action is bad, then where's the haunt?

How do you deal with the kids who parents tell them that violent behavior is OK, or don't teach them anything at all?

Goes back to the idea that there is a problem long before we get to the haunted attraction at a theme park, doesn't it? Maybe those concerned should spend their time helping to correct that problem (the real problem here) instead of protesting an entertainment venue.


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