Recently, in the build-up to Halloween, I decided to watch the first series of American Horror Story (Murder House, as it was retroactively subtitled). I knew from promo material that there was a malevolent rubberman involved, and I was curious to see what role fetish played in the narrative. As it turns out, not much. The use of a full rubber suit and mask was purely for aesthetic purposes; a means to hide the killer's identity and to give viewers a creeping sense of 'other' – much the same way as Michael Myers' Shatner mask or Freddy Krueger's scars. Kink to scare the good people at home; give them a bogeyman to fear. Obviously, for me, there was nothing scary about it. The intention was to give me a jolt, but I felt more bemused – if the sight of a rubberman emerging from a darkened room troubled me, in my line of work, I'd be fucked. It got me thinking, though, and I'm keen to hear what you think: how do you view the mainstream use of fetish for fear?
For decades, fetish imagery has been used to cause dread in mainstream culture, whether in the extreme or more subtle application. An obvious example of the overt variety would be Hellraiser, a film that has BDSM at its very core. Though in this instance, creator Clive Barker is famously kinky, and has held influence over the scene, as such, the movie carries authenticity - whether the people at home know it or not. It's more in the lesser depictions, where fetish is almost subliminal, that the intention feels more insidious. In the Black Mirror episode San Junipero, the simulation has a dark alternative to the titular, pastel-shaded town. A sex club where fetish and BDSM imagery is used as background threat to intimidate and startle are naive heroine. This is a place where bad people go to do bad things. Fetish is used, as it has been many times before, as a shorthand for sinister.
And then there's Halloween itself. The time of year where good boys and girls can let their hair down and get a little nasty. It's not unusual to see fetish gear worn as a costume. To be bought for a one-off reveal that will make a big impression. Whether it's an AHS baiting rubber gimp suit, or a leather harness used as part of a 'sexy demon' getup, you'll see bits of fetish used for the purposes of being spooky.
When it comes to non-fetish guys using gear for costume, I'm personally not offended by it as such. I'm more just 'Cool ensemble, guy', with a smirk and eye roll. As someone who's loved Halloween since childhood, though, I've always appreciated a degree of 'extra' in a costume, so as long as they're not taking the piss, then points for effort.
What I'm curious about is how do you react to, as my colleague Skully calls it, fetish tourism at Halloween? Do you view it as appropriation, something to laugh at, or do you enjoy gearing up for the occasion yourself?
Share your views with us on the Recon Twitter (@ReconNews), which those of you using the Recon website or Android devices can access using the link below (sorry Apple brothers, all that free porn we enjoy makes Twitter an adult link).