Don’t be tricked by Halloween

By James Bennett

Halloween is not an Australian celebration — so let's stop trying to make it one.

It’s pathetic that we encourage children to dress up and go trick-or-treating. Yes, it might be fun for them, but do we really want our culture to become Americanised in this way?

There are so many reasons why Halloween doesn’t work in Australia, especially Victoria, and the number one problem for Victorian children in relation to Halloween is daylight savings.

Halloween taps into the horror genre, and most things horror-related in popular culture happen when it's dark.

Think of some classic horror films from the late 1960s to the mid 1980s. The original Night of the Living Dead, Evil Dead, Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and Texas Chainsaw Massacre — all those great and gory horror films are set at night, when it’s dark and scary.

Just think what an anti-climax it would be if Vincent Price started creepily uttering at the end of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, “Daylight falls across the land. The midday hour is close at hand.”

If Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen was alive today, he would say, ‘`I told you, you southern socialist states, about the dangers of saving the daylight.''

If we are to have Halloween in Australia it should be limited to lunchtime at primary school instead of sending kids out trick-or-treating when the sun is still high in the sky.

Plenty of parents with children under the age of 12 don’t want their children cutely exclaiming "trick-or-treat" at 8.30pm. Past 8pm, most people don’t want to hear the doorbell, either. In fact, most people aren’t too keen on an unexpected doorbell at all. We often think it could be someone trying to scam us.

At Halloween, the scammer is likely to be a miniature ghost with a penchant for chocolate.

With that in mind, Halloween also seems a little hypocritical on the health front. I thought sugary lollies and sweets were bad for children.

Aren’t parent groups lobbying the government to focus on limiting marketing that can help lead to childhood obesity?

It doesn’t help that supermarket giants jump on the opportunity to make a buck, either. 

Although it’s called trick-or-treating, let's be honest — all kids want the treat.

In this politically correct world we live in, I wouldn’t be surprised if trick-or-treaters can’t do tricks anyway, because it would be termed bullying or offensive.

When I was a nipper living in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne we didn’t celebrate Halloween. It just wasn't a thing.

However, I have taken part in Halloween celebrations elsewhere.

When I was really young, I was fortunate enough to live in Detroit (I never thought I would write the word `fortunate' in relation to that then bankrupt, crime-ridden and formerly corrupt city) and I did the trick-or-treat thing twice.

I dressed up as a skeleton and my older sister Alice was a witch (figuratively speaking).

In the US, Halloween is insane. It’s a gore-and-spook-fest on steroids.

What makes it brilliant is the fact it’s at night, marketed well, and everyone — and I mean everyone — is involved. Houses and streets are completely transformed. Every kid aged from two to 18 in every neighbourhood roams the streets searching for as much candy as possible.

But here in Australia, it just seems as though we’re becoming Americanised for no reason other than for big business to make a buck.

Are we soon going to be celebrating Independence Day or Memorial Day as well? Or will Halloween slink back into the spooky shadows from which it came, taking all thoughts of appropriating other American traditions with it?