How Predator Panic Spreads Around the World

Hi Readers! As you may recall, I was recently in Australia, where I was sort of surprised to hear how much their culture mirrors ours in terms of fear. The Aussies seem to be a bit less frantic — props to them — but there were still enough, “What about predators?” to make me feel at home.  (And, for the record, also enough Payless Shoe Stores and McDonald’s.) And now here’s this interesting note from down under about Halloween  on the local soap opera:

Dear Free-Range Kid: Here’s how nonsense goes viral.  After having avoided the Australian soap ‘Neighbours’ for most of it’s 25 years, I get to watch the odd episode now because of our 12 year old’s fondness for it.

A little background info: Halloween is not much of a deal here in Oz, and until a few years ago, it was no deal at all, as in not celebrated. Now some kids do go trick or treating, like my daughter and her friends last night, resulting in not much candy because people don’t expect to be asked for it.

The latest ‘Neighbours’ plot line features a Halloween horror story as its main plot device, however. The characters were all behaving in thoroughly unAustralian ways — i.e., doing  Halloween to the max — and in the middle of all the action one of the children gets kidnapped. Shock! Horror!

We are assured that what ensues will ‘rock Ramsay St to its foundations.’ [Note from Lenore, from Wikipedia: Ramsay Street is the fictional street where the show takes place.]

Anyway, in country that barely acknowledges Halloween, the lovely tradition of hysterical panic over it has now been imported via script writers trawling the net looking for story ideas. — Catherine

Hmm. I’d always sort of THOUGHT that fear spread this way — that the English-speaking media imports it from my country, because America knows what sells — but now I’ve got proof. Thanks for this!  — L