Halloween, Walmart & “Adult” Trick or Treaters

Watch this TV Commercial: An 8 year old boy, trick or treating, comes upon a basket of candy with a sign saying “Please take one only.”  He takes one piece of candy. Next up the walk is a little girl, maybe age 4. She takes a whole bunch of candy. Boy: “The sign says to take one only”.  Girl: “I can’t read”. Whereupon, the girl skips along her merry way with lots of candy. Close up final shot- The boy stands there with his one piece of candy, looking like a schmuck, feeling like he is being punished for obeying the rules.  The tag- line- Buy Walmart.  Funny, right?  Ha ha.  The little boy is the sucker, the little girl the winner. Now that she actually knows the rules, she feels free to ignore them because she has the excuse of not being able to read.   Is her excuse really a defense?  As a lawyer, I can tell you it certainly does not work that way in our criminal justice system.  Not only is actual ignorance not a defense, but in this case the little girl knew the rule but flouted it anyway. But forget about the law, let’s talk ethics here. Let’s talk about the right thing to do, vs. the thing that you can get away with doing.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mZiu3C_5Xg . I’ve read the comments.  “The commercial is funny, get a life…” It is usually really funny to see other people look like fools. But is it really funny to see a kid look like a fool?  Is that the message Walmart wants to send?

We talked about this commercial on Friday on the show, which you can listen to here: Halloween A PieceA Lisa Podcast. The commercial left me feeling really uncomfortable for a host of reasons. First, I would have been the goody-goody boy standing there with the one piece of candy.  That’s just me.  People like us get taken advantage of in life, because there are other people who have no compunction about taking more of what does not belong to them in the first place.  We goody-goodies don’t like cheaters.  We see this little girl as a cheater, pure and simple, and we hate when cheaters get away with cheating. We have a very highly developed sense of right and wrong, and it often bites us in the tush.  We also have a very large folder entitled, “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished”.  This little boy honored the request of the candy-giver, and walked away with only one piece of candy.  What is the lesson? Next time, take the whole thing. Don’t leave any candy for the little girl who came after you. Take as much as you can get away with; no one is looking anyway.  We are quite self-righteous, we goody-goodies.My listeners are smarter than I am.  One saw this as an apt analogy to Occupy Wall Street and  the “Greed is Good” ethos. In his view, this commercial was simply a reflection of the way we behave now. We have no moral reservations about getting away with things, about taking more than our fair share. Another said that Walmart was trying to make the point that we adults should buy a lot of candy because kids take more than you think they will take. This point sailed right over my head, so if you are listening, Mr. Walmart, I think you might want to make that point clearer the next time.   Another said that he had viewed the commercial that morning and it had stayed with him all day; he could not believe we were discussing it on the show.  Weird, how sometimes we are all thinking the same things.

Then the conversation morphed, as they so often do. We discussed today’s Halloween parents. The perennial tag-alongs, the ones who can’t cut that umbilical cord and then complain that their kids are too dependent on them.  I found out that some parents actually carry their own bags for candy.  Their own bags! I was speechless, a true rarity. Apparently, there are others who tote newborns and young toddlers on the trick or treating trail. Last time I checked, infants weren’t dining out on Snickers.  The phenomenon of adults crying for their lost youth, lost in the excitement of free candy, would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad.  Sad, and also disgusting.  Tomorrow night for Halloween this family will hand out the goodies as usual.  Reese’s, Skittles and whatever else I can buy that I won’t eat myself. Reese’s is the big temptation, but I am passing the extras on to my son.  The same son who, incidentally, would have been the first to grab the entire bowl of candy without even a second thought.  Who said  we goody-goody parents have children that listen to us anyway?  Not I.

Happy Halloween.

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2 thoughts on “Halloween, Walmart & “Adult” Trick or Treaters

  1. Great points!! Possibly… Wal-Mart is showing that in the end the little boy IS the “hero” w/ the costume he’s wearing… IDK- but the commercial did have me thinking… comical, yet reality check!!

  2. I was glad to be able to read your thoughts since I’m never available to listen to your show while it’s being broadcast. And I was so glad to read that I’m not the only one who was bothered by that commercial! I felt exactly the way you did, right down to being the goody-goody and not having thought to relate it to Wall Street greed (although that is SO true.) The one difference, I’m happy to report, is that like me my kids would have also taken just one. At least I rubbed off on them for this honesty quality. 🙂

    OK, not back to doing my work…
    Barbara

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