A Canadian woman who didn’t see anything funny in an American-made Halloween decoration has succeeded in getting Home Depots in Canada to stop selling it.
The North Carolina creators of the decoration, who have sold versions of it since 2013, say this is the first complaint they have received about it.
The Scary Peeper is a full-size, lifelike head wearing a hoodie that mounts to a window with suction cups. With hands cupped around the face, it looks like a creepy Peeping Tom looking in the window.
The description on Home Depot’s website says the window prop is “perfect for scaring friends and family during Halloween or any other time of the year.”
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Breanne Hunt-Wells, a teacher and mother of two, saw it at a Home Depot in Markham, Ontario, and was more than creeped out.
“I fail to see the humor in it,” she told CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning” show. “It makes light of a very serious crime. Voyeurism is a crime in Canada.”
Noting that voyeurism can often escalate into sexual assault, Hunt-Wells said, “this is not a harmless crime.”
She complained to the store and the store pulled it off its shelves, the CBC reported. Other stores in Canada have apparently received complaints because the decoration reminded them of infamous Canadian serial killer and rapist Paul Bernardo, a company spokesman told The Washington Post.
“We agree that this is not in line with our core values, and when we heard, took immediate action and are currently in the process of removing this product from our assortment,” a Home Depot spokeswoman told the CBC.
“We’ve reached out to advise the customer of our actions and apologize. We’re sorry for any offense that was caused.”
Hunt-Wells worried that the item was more than just good, clean Halloween fun.
“I would say to people that say ‘It’s just a joke’ there are a lot of things in our society that have been just a joke over time,” she told the CBC. “Racial jokes, cultural jokes. It takes some talking and thinking to realize that maybe we need to be more sensitive. The people that commit this crime are not harmless people.”
The decoration is still available in the United States, Morgan Dowtin, owner of Scary Peeper Inc. in Greensboro, N.C., told the Winston-Salem Journal.
“It’s just unfortunate that it had to go this far,” Dowtin told the newspaper.
He said the company hasn’t received any other complaints about its products, which includes the popular animated Tapping Peeper that taps on the window. That decoration is currently out of stock at ScaryPeeper.com.
Dowtin and his wife, Emily, who co-own the company, issued a statement saying they don’t condone violence and are not trying to make light of serious crimes.
“We reached out to Ms. Hunt-Wells and offered our sincere apologies for her experience and empathy regarding the sensitivity of this issue,” the statement said. “We would never want to cause anyone genuine distress.”
Scary Peeper is also sold on Amazon and by several big-box and specialty online retailers, the Post reported.
“We have been very fortunate: Our products have been received with overwhelmingly positive feedback, funny anecdotes and videos, as well as a loyal following,” the Dowtins said in their statement.
“The support we have received from all around the world has reinforced that the vast majority of people see and use our products as intended. We cannot stress enough that there is absolutely no malicious or ill-intent on our part.”