Movie publicists got away with murder Thursday.
They persuaded Mayor Tom Bradley to proclaim today Freddy Krueger Day in Los Angeles in honor of the fictional serial killer who has rampaged through the gruesome "Nightmare on Elm Street" film series.
The mayor wasn't on hand to personally present the actor who portrays Krueger with the ornate, signed proclamation--he was across town presiding over a sewage plant grand opening.
But others were quick to suggest that something stinks about one of the nation's most violent cities putting its official stamp of approval on a mass murderer, even a celluloid one.
"It's absurd and embarrassing. Declaring a day in celebration of a character that exists to slaughter people is absolutely horrendous," said Tammy Bruce, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization for Women.
"It's crazy. Every parent in L.A. is going to wonder where he's coming from," said Peggy Charren, president of Action for Children's Television, a Cambridge, Mass.-based advocacy organization.
"It's unbelievable. Does that mean you can celebrate by going out and stabbing and killing someone?" asked Jerry Rubin, director of the Los Angeles Alliance for Survival, a Venice anti-violence group.
The mayor should be promoting "someone good that children can look up to," moaned Cindy Wong, PTA district president for the Los Angeles Basin.
However, a spokesman for Bradley denied that the proclamation glorifies violence in a city where major crime was up 4.3% during the first half of the year.
He said the mayor signed it after being asked to do so by New Line Cinema, which is releasing the last in the Freddy Krueger series today. The movie's release is timed to take advantage of the Friday-the-13th date.
"The fact that this movie details the demise of Freddy Krueger certainly had something to do with it," mayoral aide Bill Chandler said. "That's an important message, the demise of that character."
But the mayor was also applauding the movie company's decision to film all six installments of the horror series in Los Angeles. "That was a major boost to the economy," Chandler said.
New Line Cinema spokesman Matt Hallman said it is unclear how many people Freddy Krueger slaughtered in the six episodes. "We don't have an actual body count . . . but the majority of the performers get killed."
Hallman said veteran actor Robert Englund, who portrays the crazed killer Krueger, is anxious to retire the razor-sharp rapier claw glove he has worn in each of the films.
Englund had the trademark slasher glove on when he accepted the proclamation from mayoral aide Lily Lee during Thursday's ceremony outside Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Grease from the claws smeared part of the wording that praised Englund's acting ability and charity work.
"We have to separate crime reality from movie escapism," Englund said afterward in defense of Bradley's proclamation.
At the nearby Hollywood police station, Capt. John Higgins agreed. While the homicide rate increased 53% the first half of this year, none of the killings were tied to movie-screen mayhem, he said.
"I don't know if we've ever had a Freddy Krueger-type murder up here," Higgins said.
"I don't think we've ever had anybody stabbed to death with long metal fingernails."