Protest against ‘damaging stereotype’ of Halloween attraction name

October 30, 2013
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Campaigners in fancy dress descended on Thorpe Park on Wednesday (October 30) – but not as part of the theme park’s Halloween attractions.

Instead they were there to take part in a protest against the name of one of the park’s horror mazes, Asylum, which campaigners say reinforces negative stereotypes about mental health problems.

The ‘live action’ attraction features a chainsaw wielding ‘patient’ and forms part of the theme park’s annual Fright Night season.

Protesters, led by student mental health nurse Katie Sutton, say the maze reinforces negative stereotypes of people with mental health problems by linking them with scary imagery.

Miss Sutton, 26, held the rally and delivered the petition to Thorpe Park alongside other supporters in zombie fancy dress in a bid to “prove they were not Halloween killjoys”.

So far the petition has gained the support of more than 5,800 people.

After receiving the petition a spokesman for the theme park said although they have “listened to the debate it has provoked”, they would not be re-naming the attraction this year.

Miss Sutton, a University of Salford student, added: “It’s time we all took a stand against this sort of lazy and damaging stereotyping of mentally ill people.

“It’s completely irresponsible that a brand as high profile as Thorpe Park would link mental illness with this kind of outdated nonsense.

“Thorpe Park has said that they haven’t received many complaints – so we’re taking the thousands of signatures to their door to show them how many people think the Asylum horror maze must go.”

The Thorpe Park spokesman added: “This year’s Thorpe Park Fright Nights ends this Sunday and we want to assure everyone that has been in touch that we have listened to the debate it has provoked and do understand the depth of feeling that has arisen on both sides.

“For us this has always been about a particular context – the Asylum maze forms just a small part of a larger adult aimed Halloween event and no offence was ever intended.

“The petition was delivered to us this afternoon. We will not be renaming the attraction this year but we do take their concerns and level of expertise seriously and will consider all the points raised when planning future events for 2014.”

Miss Sutton, from Stockport, wrote an open letter to Thorpe Park last week to urge them to change Asylum’s name and theme. The letter, which said it was “possible to entertain the public without perpetuating harmful stereotypes”, was also signed by representatives from mental health charities Rethink Mental Illness, Mind, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Time To Change, The Lancet Psychiatry and The Lancet.

Miss Sutton’s petition comes after Asda and Tesco publicly apologised and made donations to mental health charities following a social media backlash over the sale of ‘mental patient’ fancy dress costumes.

Article source: http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/local-news/protest-against-damaging-stereotype-halloween-6256680


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