Kings Island drops haunt depiction of murdered football star

Posted Thursday, September 24, 2009 10:37 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Kings Island has dropped plans to include skeletons dressed and positioned to resemble ex-NFL quarterback Steve McNair and his mistress as part of a Halloween display. A promo video for the "Halloween Haunt" shows McNair sitting up on a couch with Kazemi lying across his lap. There is a hole in the top of McNair's football helmet. Kazemi fatally shot McNair before killing herself July 4 in Nashville.

Read more and see video from WSMV/Nashville.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009 1:17 PM

But where do you draw the line? People make movies and tv shows and write books about people who have died all the time. Isn't that entertainment as well?

Thursday, September 24, 2009 1:19 PM
James Whitmore's avatar

I think it's frickin' funny. I love it. Push those limits. And I like that they are staying current, not just the same static displays year after year.

Thursday, September 24, 2009 1:47 PM

GoBucks89 said:
But where do you draw the line? People make movies and tv shows and write books about people who have died all the time. Isn't that entertainment as well?

I would suggest there is a difference between critical analysis of an event/respectful re-enactment to tell a story and exploiting an event for a cheap laugh at an amusement park. And either way, there's nothing that says that people "should" be making those books or movies either.

James Whitmore said:
I think it's frickin' funny. I love it.

Here's guessing the fatherless children of the subjects in question here would disagree strongly. Too soon to be appropriate, if ever, in my opinion.

Thursday, September 24, 2009 2:49 PM

So just how long does it take, exactly, before tragic death can be the subject of humor? Clearly, enough time has passed that people pretty much don't get riled at jokes about the Black Death.

"Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?" Abe seems to make the cut, but does JFK? What about the Challenger crew? I was traumatized by that tragedy, yet a few months later I found I could grudgingly chuckle when the NASA jokes made the rounds.

The nature of the death clearly has something to do with it. Amelia Earhart is funny; she decided to fly on her own across the Pacific, without radio contact with the rest of the world. That priest who did a Danny Deckchair and disappeared from the coast of South America...well, that was funny the day it happened. Morbid, yet funny.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009 3:03 PM
Carrie M.'s avatar

I guess to me, this doesn't even warrant that kind of debate. The attempt at humor was awful, regardless of the content. They could have placed jackolanterns around with scary faces and it would have been just as impressive.

It's not right lumping this into the realm of well done satire like South Park or the like. They offered nothing but a couple of skeletons (the most overused and ridiculous icon of Halloween besides the jackolantern) placed in real life social scenarios about death. That doesn't even make sense to me.

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

Thursday, September 24, 2009 3:11 PM
janfrederick's avatar

The thing is, I don't think the majority of visitors would find it remotely entertaining. In fact, it would probably make the whole evening a big downer. They could have been a lot more creative. How about a beastly football player charging the endzone with an opponents head instead of a ball?

"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
Thursday, September 24, 2009 3:19 PM
mlnem4s's avatar

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, EVERYTHING controversial we have discussed on CB has been removed. Common sense won, finally. Sadly, the bad guy in all this is Don Helbig because he wasn't forthright from the beginning.

Last edited by mlnem4s, Thursday, September 24, 2009 3:21 PM
Thursday, September 24, 2009 3:35 PM
Jeff's avatar

The right answer was to suck it up and say, "We agree that the displays were of questionable taste, and will not appear in the park when our event begins this weekend." Then you move on.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

Thursday, September 24, 2009 3:37 PM

Carrie: I completely agree with you. What they were doing at KI's haunt was beyond the pale. In this instance, it's not even a matter of debate.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009 3:55 PM
OhioStater's avatar


Which is what I was getting at. While I "get" that people make fun of MJ and his bizarreness, I dont understand why there was such an uproar over Steve McNair's "skeleton" while no one seemed to care about MJ or Heath Ledger (the latter I find REALLY surprising given his fame) being depicted in the same way.

So, now they can erect a skeleton depicting the employees' jobs who came up with the stuff.

Thursday, September 24, 2009 4:07 PM

Seems like one of those classic moments in business/marketing: Lets see, we get to deal with the negative publicity and offended customers and we won't get the increased attendance from folks coming for the shock value. Gotta love that.

Thursday, September 24, 2009 5:21 PM


Why don't we throw a World Trade Center display in there too? We can have a building with a plane crashing into it with fire and skeletons leaping to their death...and we can all laugh at it.

You stay classy KI.

Thursday, September 24, 2009 9:55 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar

Has 9-11-2001 become the new Godwin yet?

Friday, September 25, 2009 12:31 AM
Jeff's avatar

It would be only marginally better than comparing anything that ever goes on in an Internet forum to slaughtering millions of people. And by marginally better, I mean still completely ridiculous.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

Friday, September 25, 2009 6:39 AM

Personally I think people are just far too sensitive. Although there's a pretty good chance I'm just far too insensitive. I don't see anything wrong with the displays.

And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

Friday, September 25, 2009 9:22 AM

If they want to stay up to date why not just tombstones of those who died this year. I mean you could make a huge display with all the famous people who died even since January.

Depicting the murder and overdose like they did seems to cross the line a bit. Even if they depicted Michael Jackson death the way it was reported I'd say the same.

Sorry going for satire here isn't a good idea. Those things are too fresh in some peoples minds to go for satire about them yet. Remember these were people heroes. Flawed yes but still heroes. Maybe the world is too sensitive on things but I think this is one area I'd rather be more sensitive about.

Watch the tram car please....
Friday, September 25, 2009 10:57 AM
Pagoda Gift Shop's avatar

Just wanted to add that there is a debate raging on other sites about whether the entire celebrity death setup was done to make news/create publicity.

Someone I generally consider reliable (Shaggy) has stated that the park 'conveniently' leaked the photos of the celebrity stuff and/or gave the media access to them. This seems to have some merit as you don't see any other photos of KI's haunt floating around.

Friday, September 25, 2009 11:05 AM

Or, maybe the rest of the stuff wasn't picture posting-worthy. That is, an employee saw and was shocked by the display, and felt compelled to take and post the pics.

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Friday, September 25, 2009 11:13 AM
Fun's avatar

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the Knott's Hanging. Last time I saw it, the entire show was about mocking dead celebrities. It wouldn't surprise me if most of the celebs who were cut from Kings Island displays were actually a part of the show at Knotts.

Friday, September 25, 2009 11:27 PM

I'll concede that the display was at best questionable, bad taste...perhaps....but Halloween is filled with the distasteful and incorrect. We celebrate it with buckets of blood, heads on a platter, coffins on the porch, and costumes of zombies and movie bad guys who are famous for killing people by the hundreds. My question is this, what is the real difference between McNair's display and the display of some random graphic act of violence or death? It's ok by people to hang a dummy by a noose or have fake dead bodies hanging up everywhere, or a person with made up nasty wounds walking around...until they are a celebrity? Not a word would have been said if those skeletons were put in the same pose without the McNair would have just been another campy skeleton display that people would have simply noticed and walked past...dismissing it as Halloween fun. Murder is murder, death is death, no matter who the person depicted is, and I'm sure that there are plenty of images during Halloween that disturb the families of those anonymous, non-celebrity people who have been killed. People being offended at this and not being offended at far more graphic disturbing images (that depict death no less) in the mazes and haunted houses is a bit perplexing to me, and it's a seems to me a small example of our culture's infatuation with celebrity.

Obviously though, if the people really don't like it, then KI was obliged to remove it. It's all about entertainment and making your customers happy, not making some sort of statement. Was some sort of "line" crossed? Perhaps...but the lines of right, wrong, and bad taste are very blurry and distorted during Halloween.


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