Halloween Hit Job: What Were They Thinking?

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I stood there, befuddled, on the sidewalk as I watched this 12 year old girl paint the above picture on a store window…

In case you can’t make out the lettering, it’s a picture of two tombstones and a ghost.

One tombstone reads:

“Lehman Brothers, There’s no brotherly love now.”

The other reads:

“Bear Stearns, It was hunting season.”

And, the ghost is saying:


This, by the way, was painted on the window of a local mom and pop pharmacy by a girl who looked to be about 12 or 13 years old, with her mom overseeing. It was on the main corner of our neighborhood. And, it was part of an annual celebration, where kids come out and paint the windows of stores in town in anticipation of Halloween.

Watching this unfold raised a lot of questions for me, among them…

  • What’s happened to just being a kid?
  • Who was really speaking in this painting?
  • What was this kid thinking as she came up with the idea, then painted it?
  • What was her mom thinking?
  • What about all the parents and their families who’ve been devastated by the collapses, especially in NYC, who’ll walk by this everyday?
  • What about the store owner, the role they want to play in the community and the message they want to send?
  • Is there a need to be sensitive to what’s going on in the greater economy or not so much?
  • Is this an appropriate way to make a political statement?

My guess is, there are a lot of other questions this brings up for different people.

Some folks are already strongly opposed to Halloween on either religious, ethical or anti-consumer grounds. That’s a whole different conversation. But, my more immediate question is what this particular incident says about the nature of kids, families and communities these days.

So, what do you think?

How would you answer the above questions?

What other questions does this raise for you?

Let’s discuss…

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8 responses

8 responses to “Halloween Hit Job: What Were They Thinking?”

  1. Penny says:

    Berry Scary!!!!!

  2. shelley says:

    Wow, looks like that kid has been around some interesting discussions.

    I wonder where the child, we can safety still say child right, picked this up. The news, home, school, the babysitter?

    What strikes me is that in reality these two companies did “die” by being dissolved; at least a child might see it as that, so the artistic expression fits. Plus it is all hallows eve and the idea of scary things is easily accessible to people so for me I am struck most by the contempt that the epitaphs and the ghost provide. We live in NY though, so contempt is nothing new. Neither is Shame and for me this is a great example of that.

    There is more than one conversation here on the window.

    The tie that binds is easily the economy and everyone is talking about that in a heated manner. The two distinct points are the failure of two large companies and the perceived role a “bailout” plays.

    I would think that no matter what the personal feelings of the child and therefore to some degree the parents/adults are, there is a responsibility that plays out here on many levels.

    The business owner has some say as to the message in their space, the parent has the some say as to allow his/her child to participate in the community event, we all have the right of freedom of expression and speech, and we all have a responsibility to participate in the broader discussions of politics, social issues, money markets and such.

    I would walk carefully here. I am shocked personally, yet deeply satisfied that people are clearly talking about these things. I am concerned with the broad strokes of shame and contempt, yet thrilled at the initiative and artistic expression of one of our young people. If I saw this from an adult artist I don’t think that I would be as surprised as I was at knowing it was from a kid. When it boils down to it, kids rarely will do anything under coercion so we can assume that this is a case of “from the mouths of babes”.

    I have more questions than answers really- such is my life

    Thanks for the brain food today,


  3. foolery says:

    I have to respectfully disagree with Shelley, above. I smell adult political conversations being spoonfed to, and then parroted by, the child. While this is one way children learn, and find their own voices (ultimately, by railing against those very same parents’ opinions, so often), it becomes less cute and acceptable when the child has no clear idea what she is parroting. The rewards for expressing the family political views may be great in this family.

  4. Usiku says:

    I was not alive during the Great Depression or the Civil Rights Movement but my guess is that children of these eras were just as in tune with things as children of today are with our current predicaments.

    The now that is happening is their future and seems totally appropriate to be a part of their awareness. If it’s okay for them to raise money for September 11th victims, it is appropriate for them to bemoan money squandered by corporate knuckleheads.

  5. In all my honesty, I am quite shocked. What can possibly be going on in that little girl’s mind? How was she raised to become like that? She must be living in a somewhat frightening environment.

  6. I live outside the US now, so the halloween thing does not hit me. I should find it odd that a kid would write such things, but I’m in a custody battle with an x that (remarried before our divorce and drove the new guy away) 4 doctors have described as “psychologically fragile” and state that her goal is to keep the kids from me. My kids just say the things that she says, so this kid writing on the wall is just writing what she believes to be the truth.

  7. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I’m one who believes you should allow kids to be kids for as long as you can. 12 year old’s don’t need to be making political statements. I know when I was 12, I was aware of some of the political and sociological things going on around me – but I in no way had the capability to come to a reasonable opinion of the events going on around me. I was more interested in baseball, football, & riding bikes with my friends.

    I think parents are not wrong to encourage their children to be aware of world/local events, but I think making such a political statement such as this for Halloween is a bit excessive.

  8. Justin says:

    I suppose the young girl has just been keeping up-to-date with all the financial crisis news, and her mom has supported her growing knowledge. Still, that must have been odd seeing someone so young draw a picture about a problem so big.