Ebola-Themed Halloween Decorations In Dallas Are Probably Too Real To Be Funny
We have an obsession with being afraid. The horror genre tends to be the most successful in the film industry, ghost stories and urban legends are a necessity at any exciting party, and Halloween is one of the most popular holidays in the United States. We love getting scared, and there is nothing scarier right now than Ebola. One man in Dallas has capitalized on that particular fear, and has decorated his Dallas home in an Ebola theme for Halloween. But while ghost stories and horror movies are exciting in their capacity to generate a visceral, frightened response, these Ebola decorations are eliciting emotions of disgust and a very different kind of horror.
James Faulk, a Dallas resident who inhabits a town house in the wealthy University Park neighborhood of the Texas city, decided to do away with the same old cobwebs and tombstone decorations for this year's Halloween. Instead, he wanted to do something a little more topical and a bit more realistic. So rather than using relics of the past, he went with current events, and chose to adorn his house with caution tape, biohazard barrels, quarantine signs, and a hazmat suit. Yes, friends, Faulk has just made the ultimate Ebola joke, and a lot of people aren't laughing.
Under Ebola-inspired construction since Sunday, Faulk's house appears to be a very realistic reenactment of the scene that is all too familiar for many Dallas residents — Thomas Eric Duncan, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson were all living in Dallas when they were diagnosed with Ebola, and in following safety protocol, health workers have very serious steps to ensure that the virus would be contained. This meant, of course, putting up yellow caution tape, collecting any potentially biohazardous materials, and of course, quarantining those who may have come into contact with infected patients. But Faulk's "decorations" seem to make a mockery out of a deadly and anything-but-funny situation.
When he spoke with reporters on Thursday, he emerged from his pseudo-quarantine zone wearing a face shield, a white safety suit labeled "CDC Trainee," and holding a clipboard and red plastic bag bearing the words, "biohazard infectious waste." He told reporters, "There's negative people everywhere and they are going to give me grief about it but it's all in good fun." The whole point of Halloween after all, Faulk says, is to give people a good scare.
To ensure that no one actually thought that Faulk was living in an Ebola-infested townhouse, he made sure to put up a banner that read "Happy Halloween," because nothing assuages people's fears like a well-made sign.
A few people who have driven past the residence, however, weren't entirely sure whether or not it was a joke. Jill Grover, one of Faulk's neighbors, told the Associated Press that she originally thought it was a legitimate scene. And given that her children attend the school directly across the street from Faulk's house, she had plenty of cause for concern. But when she realized that there were no healthcare workers or officials around, she "figured out it was Happy Halloween."
Faulk and his girlfriend came up with the idea while brainstorming the best ways to give people a good, old fashioned spook for the upcoming holiday. "And what’s the scariest thing on the market right now?" he asked CBS Dallas,
Unfortunately, it’s Ebola. As you can see there’s no mention of Ebola, it’s just a Halloween prank, and we just went the infectious waste route and put a few things together to hit a core with everybody and have a good time, hopefully, in the end.
He certainly hit a core, but several people aren't having a particularly good time. Duncan, the Liberian national who lost his battle with the disease, passed away less than a month ago, and the pain of his death remains fresh on the minds of many of his friends and relatives. Saymendy Lloyd, a friend of Duncan's fiancee, told CBS Dallas,
In Africa, this is something that is killing people. This is a virus that is deadly. And you take that as a joke and make that a Halloween decoration for your home? What kind of people are those?
Calling the display "cruel," Lloyd continued, "I just don’t understand that. And I think that is so insulting for those who have lost loved ones because of Ebola. It is very insulting."
Lloyd isn't the only one who is a bit taken aback by the lack of sensitivity. Grover told the AP, "It is Halloween, but it is scary because the Ebola was happening in Dallas," and said that while she wasn't offended, she could definitely see how others would be. Another neighbor told a local Fox station, "I think this is funny but I bet the family of Nina Pham doesn't." Residents were initially so shocked by the decorations that the police were called to investigate, but they determined that Faulk was not breaking any laws. After all, he never even used the word "Ebola."
The display took Faulk about five hours and $150 to put together, and he's still not completely finished. He told Fox that the house will get even scarier over the next week with the addition of a dummy in a hospital bed placed by a window visible from the street. Unfortunately, Faulk isn't the only one making light of the Ebola situation in Dallas. Business Insider reports that Dallas Halloween stores have actually sold out of hazmat suits, so it looks like Ebola is going to be knocking on quite a few doors asking for candy this Halloween.
In response to his critics, Faulk told reporters that those who were displeased by his decorations could go elsewhere to trick-or-treat, and help him save money on candy. "It never seems to amaze me what will offend people these days," Faulk said. If you're not amazed, Mr. Faulk, maybe it's a sign that you're the one in the wrong.