Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Post-Christmas Rampage

/ season's greetings /
...'Tis the season for some follies. A quick denouncement of the rotund commercialising icon in red, british parental concerns save children from the ugly truth - and the Perfect Christian Gift.

1. Letter to Santa

Dear Santa

OK, to be frank I don't like you. Apart from your garish sartorial habits and the fact that you make elves and other vertically challenged minorities (quite possibly underage) to work in what are (no doubt) sweatshop conditions (and thus help legitimize child labor in the process - or  simply outsource it), under permanent surveillance (and note the sign: it's been "0 days" since they had an accident, which means no labour safety standards), and surely abuse your reindeer making them travel the whole world in a single night, you are the personification of the overcommercialization of everything. Your likeness is used to sell everything from condoms, to cigarettes, to, of course Coke, which was the corporate sponsor of the spread and internationalization of your current shape and form.

Add to that the fact that over here (as in many places the world over) you have been slowly displacing the local traditions: Saint Nicholas, from whom you are derived, is the patron saint of seafarers and ships in the Greek tradition and most certainly was not fat and did not dress in drag to deliver presents to children on Christmas. This was done, minus the suit, the chimney and the reindeer, according to Greek Orthodox lore, by Saint Basil of Caesarea, a scholar and a theologian of great calibre who was indeed active in creating poorhouses and charities during his life. Instead of this ascetic saint - we are now presented with an image (for the saint that brings gifts is still named Ayios Vassilis here and that means that the fat guy in red is supposed to represent him) of a guy in weird clothes residing in some snow-covered place, far, far away...

2. No! Not the Tooth Fairy!

As far as myths are concerned, they seem to be protected as such by the British school system, thanks to parental vigilance. The story reads like a spoof, but apparently it's real and actually it's two incidents, in one of which:

...At yet another school, pupils went home in tears after being told Father Christmas does not exist by a teacher who was telling a class of nine-year-olds how Christmas is celebrated across the world.

Angry parents at Calcot Junior School in Berkshire said the teacher had 'ruined' Christmas for their children.

Mel Barefield, whose son was in the lesson, said: 'The teacher had said to them that Father Christmas wasn't real, Rudolph was a cartoon character and that Christmas trees come from Germany.'

A governor said: 'It's not just Father Christmas that's the problem. We also have issues with things like the Tooth Fairy...

3. Onward Christian Soldiers: Kill them all and let God sort them out... and a very Merry Christmas:

Known Christmasphobe Matt Taibbi, reports on the one present that he really would like to get from Santa: Left Behind: Eternal Forces, the game version of the well known Left Behind Christian fundamentalist action novel series. The whole concept is so grotesque that it is some kind of genius in an accidental post-dada happening sort of way, in which cultural artefacts themselves serve as their own magnificent, marketable parodies. To quote Taibbi on the pre-launch press releases (prayer requests actually) for the game, which he celebrates as "easily some of the greatest examples of unintentional comedy ever to grace the Internet" (after cheering for nativity desecrations the world over):

...But when the date arrived, the company's "Prayer Team leader," Annette Brown, began to get more and more specific in her corporate prayer goals [circulated by email]:

   1. Pray God will put it on the heart of the consumers to purchase our product at select Walamart [sic] Stores (top 100 stores) that have our invetory [sic].

    2. Next weekend is the biggest shopping weekend of the year, pray the game hits record sales for PC Games.

    3. The press is still reviewing the game, pray they will be kind in their reviews.

    I mean, how twisted do you have to be to pray that consumers will buy your product at select Wal-Mart stores? Wouldn't you hesitate and call a psychiatrist before sending that out into cyberspace?

... And a Happy New Year everyone!
[Cross-posted in the European Tribune]

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