I know I'm a little late to the Hallowe'en party but I was in Hobbycraft the other day (other craft shops are available, etc.) browsing through the books. Whilst browsing, I found Super Scary Crochet, which I had seen and liked before so I started to flick through. Lots of the patterns are really fun, I liked "Mummy" (and really liked that her description of a mummy, whilst brief, aims at accuracy - nerd alert!). Unfortunately, in the middle of a lot of really fun amigurumi patterns is "Murderous Mental Mary".
|"Mary is a serial murderer who lives in an institution ... |
She has murdered lots of nurses and ... doctors"
Pattern (c) Nicki Trench, www.nickitrench.com
Mary's inclusion in this book plays into the same fears that the "mental patient" and "psycho ward" costumes play into. There is no need to play up a character with talk about mental health issues, or "institutions", but the hyperbole of horror is always out to shock, and my guess is that this was the author's intention here. A murderer in a high-security prison? Not scary enough. Let's make her mental, and add some "blood lust" in for that extra frisson of excitment.
|"Each time she kills, she |
dribbles blood with excitement"
Pattern (c) Nicki Trench,
Don't misunderstand my intentions here, I'm not going to start calling for people to stop stocking Ms. Trench's books, or start a letter-writing campaign. Nicki Trench is a talented designer, and I'd always urge you to support creatives - they need to eat, too. 'Mary' is but a symbol of how widespread in our culture the fear of "madness" is.
I also want to address the accusation that people who are worried about the association between horror and depictions of mental illness have lost our sense of humour. I am always aware of the risk of "going on about stigma or overblowing it. It might seem petty in the grand scheme of things, but I see people day in, day out, who are terrified of disclosing mental health issues to anyone (even a professional) in case they lose their job, lose their friends, are labelled a "freak". That fear hasn't just popped into their heads from nowhere, the stigma is real and damaging. It leads people to avoid seeking help, and in extreme cases not seeking help can lead to death.
If you want to do something to help, take a look at Time to Change. You could even sign up to their pledge and make my day.
To end on a lighter note, here's a video made by the charity Bring Change 2 Mind: