The Grinch Who Stole Halloween

So I was driving to church this Reformation Day (October 31) (yesterday), and I saw a bunch of American tourists. Children. Walking the streets of suburban Brisbane. They were dressed in costumes. Most of them were dressed as vampires – though not the emo/street kid/Twilight/sparkly campire/Edward Cullen variety – the good old caped Dracula variety. So I am thankful for small mercies. It seems our costume shops still think the Count from Sesame St is the model vampire, and not a sulking never-aging teenager with a brooding face. And make-up. Man make-up. And permanently windswept hair.

I’m glad there weren’t too many twihards. That would have made this post even harder to write.

Halloween is a scourge threatening to infect our cities. Australia. It is time to stand up and be counted. This is not an Australian event. This is a commercial opportunity that Coles and Woolworths have seized on with the zeal of a grocer flogging MasterChef products and ingredients. Give Coles and Woolies a sniff and they’ll have a product range and a pallet full of overgrown pumpkins out for sale quicker than Usain Bolt wolfs down a KFC two piece feed after a race (and no, I’m not suggesting that just because he’s a black man from the Caribbean he likes to eat fried chicken – I’ll leave those PC mongers who watch ads and look for hints of racism to come up with that sort of pointless speculation). The man likes KFC. It’s a fact. Here. Look. It’s on the internet.

Look. Here he is eating some with his mum.

I’m not buying into promoting stereotypical racial tropes.

But America. Keep your over-sugared excuse for a holiday out of our country. We don’t want your obesity. We don’t want our children to be fat like yours. We don’t want to have to stock up on bags of sugared goodies or “tricks”1 in order to assuage our middle-class consumer guilt foisted on us by big commercial supermarkets looking to boost sales of confectionery and ghoulish paraphernalia.

We already have a cultural excuse to dress up in silly costumes. It’s called Book Week. And I’m still scarred by my experience attending one such event in primary school dressed in purple tights, undies on the outside and a pair of toy guns. That’s right. I went to book week as the Phantom.

Halloween is barely even worthy of Grinch status. It’s not a sacred day. I don’t care about its supposedly Catholic or Pagan or Roman origins. The etymology of the word is boring. Current usage determines meaning – and currently it’s a thinly veiled holiday designed to prey on the gullible and to use children as manipulative pawns in a game of excess. So parents who dressed their children, bought lollies, and took groups trick or treating, I quote an Australian media doyen at you: Shame. Shame. Shame.

That is all.

1 Why we’d want to promote kids to go door-knocking asking for “tricks” in the age of stranger-danger is beyond me.


Amy says:

Britain celebrates it too, so the anti-American angle doesn’t really work. Yes, I agree that this push is entirely driven by companies wanting to up sales, but I don’t think the US-bashing is really necessary. There is plenty of US imported stuff in our society that people don’t complain about (your favourite TV show for one) so why single this one out?

Give the kiddies carrot sticks when they come to your door if you are anti obesity (hey, this might be the first time any of these kids have actually walked around rather than being driven). And I can’t say the idea of having people go out and meet people in their street is a bad idea in this age of people not knowing their neighbours.

Nathan Campbell says:

Britain may celebrate it (which they do) but I don’t think I’ve seen a British TV show do a Halloween special. Maybe I’m not watching the right British television.

What’s my favourite TV show? My favourite TV show is Black Books. The West Wing can have second place I guess. And they never did a Halloween episode. I think if more of our cultural imports were like the West Wing there’d be a lot less US bashing.

Do they have to come and meet me dressed up in stupid costumes though?

Are you pro-Halloween or just anti-US bashing?

Arthur says:

Yeah, like Amy said — isn’t Halloween the least of our worries when American culture already dominates our tellies?

But more to the point — what should we DO with Halloween?

I reckon All Hallows Day is more of a goer than Reformation Day…

Arthur says:

And: obligatory Dicko article here.

Amy says:

I’m neither pro- or anti- halloween, and I’ll be quite anti-US when it is called for, but it just seems such a knee-jerk reaction on this (non) issue.

It bothers me less to have halloween as a purely commercial exercise than what happens with Easter and Christmas.

And with all the fear-mongering that goes on with ‘stranger danger’ and so on (when children are as safe, if not safer than in the past), the idea of walking with your kids around the neighbourhood and actually meeting people seems like a very good idea.

Amy says:

… And is far less offensive that the pure gambling and alcohol fest that will happen tomorrow for Melbourne Cup.

Ben McLaughlin says:

Nath, come on mate. Halloween is awesome. You should realise this, and amend your post. Dressing as scary things is awesome. Eating lollies is awesome.

And giving carrot sticks as a healthy alternative is like giving your child a slap on their birthday instead of a power ranger.

Lee Shelton says:

Nathan, I’ll bet that if people handed out candied bacon at Halloween, you’d change your tune.

Aaran says:

You are not the only one who gets annoyed by Halloween

“A US driver enraged after his Mercedes was splattered with eggs on Halloween fatally shot a 17-year-old in the neck and leg as he tried to run away, authorities say. Atlanta police spokeswoman Kim Jones says the driver confronted the teen and fired 10 shots at him.”