We don't want to rain on anyone's Halloween parade, but isn't all this a little bit fucked up? As we all know, the Salem Witch Trials didn't involve any actual witches; just a few dozen people (mostly women) who were executed or left to die in prison.
Briggs. Co. / George Eastman House / Getty Images
Proving once again to never listen to a dude with a stupid hat and terrible facial hair when he states his opinion on women.
Beyond good old-fashioned paranoia and frontier ignorance, some theories speculate that the Salem Witch Trials may have actually been an insidious backlash over property disputes, or fueled by a psychosis-inducing fungus which grew in the area. So really, Salem is about as appropriate a place to celebrate black magic as an Arby's parking lot (they probably have the same body count).
The Salem Witch Trials (not to mention the tens of thousands of people killed in European witch hunts) were a goddamn atrocity, in which religious fervor and misogyny were used as justification for mass murder. So why are we all okay with turning a historical tragedy into a kickass party? Sure, witchcraft and the occult are topics that fascinate our culture, and there's nothing wrong with witches in fiction, or dressing up as a witch for Halloween or a pornography shoot or what have you. But why do we feel the need to appropriate an insanely dark chapter of history and turn it into something "fun"? If the Nazis had invoked some supernatural creature to justify the Holocaust and accused every Jew they murdered of being a vampire, Twilight wouldn't have included a chapter about the few lucky vampires who managed to escape Hitler's death machine and flee to America, right? RIGHT??
This practice extends beyond Salem's tourism industry, constantly rearing its bizarre revisionist-history head in pop culture. Take Disney's Halloween classic Hocus Pocus. The movie begins right in the middle of the Salem Witch Trials, with three witches being hanged. Of course, in the film, magic is real, so the townspeople are completely justified in executing three women.
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures
And this was before Sarah Jessica Parker was guilty of making Sex And The City 2.