A liberal hellscape: A reluctant tour of Hillary’s House of Horrors
This weekend’s presidential debate was characterized by media swarming around campus, students holding up Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump (or Krusty Krab Unfair) signs and protests forming on and off campus. You would think that after stepping off campus, you’d be able to escape the mass of chaos.
Alright—maybe I was a bit naive to think that. Who did I even think I was, to think that I could just go to Kayak’s Cage and get a baked maple pumpkin latte and then walk around without running into a Clinton-themed haunted house on Lindell Boulevard and Skinker Boulevard?
Because goddamn it, this is America. And in America, a dude wearing a pink short-sleeved button down and a straw hat can construct a ghoulish pop-up called “Hillary’s House of Horrors” wherever he wants. It’s a traveling haunted house inspired by a die-hard hatred of Clinton. The creator, David Brown, plans to bring it to cities around the country. When I walk up to it, Brown is vigorously shaking hands with a middle-aged guy in a Trump T-shirt.
“Our first donation,” Brown exclaims, dropping a folded five-dollar bill into the haunted house’s donation box. “This guy just gave us our first donation. And it’s a Lincoln, too.”
The haunted house is essentially an open-ended tent. There’s an entrance on one end, which curves out to an exit. On the outside, the tent’s walls are covered in dramatic posters depicting Clinton as a murderous tyrant (Benghazi, am I right?). Bernie Sanders isn’t spared. One poster shows Sanders wearing a psychic’s head wrap with the title “Master of Crap.” Another shows a skeletal zombie-faced Sanders wearing a beret stamped with the Communist hammer and sickle. One of the most colorful posters showed Donald Trump angrily holding a mallet and playing a game called Whac-A-Ho (a play on whack-a-mole). Instead of hitting moles, though, he’s about to strike—you guessed it—Hillary Clinton’s head! The creativity doesn’t end there. Turns out, there’s an identical Whack-A-Hillary game in the tent.
I don’t go in immediately. When I first see it, I mostly hover around the area. I know it’s this guy’s right to express his political views, and I respect that. But as a Clinton supporter, I can’t pretend it doesn’t make me a little uncomfortable.
There’s a small crowd gathered around the area—a few people wearing Trump buttons and T-shirts (sympathetic to the cause), a few reporters from local media outlets (intrigued by the cause), a guy selling buttons (capitalizing on the cause), a few people that didn’t fall into any of those categories (amused by the cause) and me (nervous about the cause—but also just generally nervous, regardless of the cause). I find a Clinton supporter hanging on a lamppost on the corner. He’s shouting, “I’m a gay vet—what will Trump do for me?” followed by a series of expletives. He seems fun, so I stay.
Despite the sense of safety Yelling Clinton Lamp Post Man gives me, I still feel a little weird as a nonwhite person being in what seems to be a pocket of Trump territory. After seeing a few nonwhite people go into the house, I figure that it’s probably fine to go in. It’s just a haunted house.
My vision is immediately bombarded by the ultra-bright and rapidly flashing strobe light. The first thing I see—which, because of aforementioned strobe light, takes considerable effort—is a life-size Clinton doll wearing what looks like a polar bear costume—it’s white and fuzzy. It’s probably supposed to liken her to Bigfoot or someone. Next to her is a life-size Trump doll wearing an orange tracksuit. It could also be a prison jumpsuit, but the top part of the suit is a zip-up jacket. The next fixture is another Clinton doll, but this time, she’s wearing a pantsuit (they got one thing right). Her face is both skeletal and zombie-esque, and she’s standing behind a podium emblazoned with the word “OBEY.” Behind her, a sign orders to “be politically correct.” The final part of the haunted house shows Clinton with mangled body parts.
I exit the house and wait a few minutes for my eyes to readjust to natural light. While I’m outside, I look at the posters again. There are also a few canvasses with aggressive anti-Clinton messages. As much as I hate the content here, some of the art is—god, this kills me saying this—actually looks kind of cool.
I want to flag down Brown (remember pink-shirt-straw-hat guy?) to ask him some questions of what the f— I just witnessed. But he’s like a human hummingbird, zipping from place to place, talking to one person for a second and then moving onto the next. At one point, I start following him toward the edge of the tent. I wait for him to stop walking—he does! He turns to a guy who had just called out to him to tell him that he loved the house. Brown responds with a “thank you!” He moves toward the guy, and I keep following him.
And then this confuses me: The two of them start walking in the same direction toward a line of parked cars. I’m still following them, and then I realize that they see me following them, and they don’t, like, explicitly say anything but based on the harried over-the-shoulder looks I get from them, it seems like they’re like, “Um, why are you following me please stop!” And then, they just disappear into a line of parked cars.
Cool. I guess I have to find a new friend.
I walk back to the main area in front of the haunted house. A new scent—the sugary smell of vape juice—begins to cloud the air. Vape juice! Ah, vape juice. Maybe it’s a projection of negative memories from a former roommate I had who was a vape enthusiast, but there’s something about the smell of vape juice that feels like the universe (or maybe even the guy vaping) needs me to leave.
Hillary’s House of Horrors was, for sure, terrifying in more ways than one. There is something impressive about creating a traveling haunted house—setting it up, breaking it down, transporting it to a new place and repeating the process. At least there’s one thing we can agree on.