Friday, December 5, 2008

Santa, sussed

Few holidays can claim an entire genre of music all their own, and it’s probably for the best, because tunes about turkeys would wear thin before the start of the first verse. However, Christmas more than makes up for this dearth by treating bemused listeners to a panoply of forced auditory festivity. 7-11s have a certain terminal cheer threshold, which, just as objects can never attain the speed of light, simply cannot be met by tinny holiday ditties.

Due to this principle, ears for whom Christmas is a holiday worldwide associate many such songs with memories of the depressingly uplifting. “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” is the crumbling veneer on an overstretched budget. “Jingle Bells” suggests the solution for pent up shopping frustration might be homicide, and “Frosty the Snowman” double homicide.

For these reasons it’s rare that listeners take the time to listen to the lyrics of the lo-fi songs they hear. And who can blame them? Many Christmas songs are deplorably inane. For example:

Here comes Santa Claus
Here comes Santa Claus
Right down Santa Claus Lane


Every one knows Santa flies. There is no Santa Claus Lane. And:

Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Prospero Ano y Felicidad.


Complete gibberish.

But one song in particular is alarmingly revealing as to its sinister underlying purpose. It beguiles listeners with saccharine lyrics and bewitching stanzas. It is the musical equivalent to a paedophiliac old man taking candy from a baby.

But “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” fails the hand that wrote it. Its clever rhymes cannot but belie its intentions.

He's making a list,
He's checking it twice,
He's gonna find out
who's naughty or nice.


Santa’s brown nosing into the deeds and misdeeds of children is worrisome by itself, and his obsessive compulsive list-making does nothing to allay fears. The casual listener might ponder what could be the purpose of such devoted organization. The same listener may be placated by the assurance that Santa simply wants to deliver toys to the good children.

But hark! What’s this?

He sees you when you're sleeping,
He knows when you're awake.


The listener should at once be alarmed at the overtones of espionage, which carry not the slightest hint of embarrassment. Are these just the harmless advances of a lonely stranger beckoning children thither through the school gates? The next line however only exacerbates the listener’s unease:

He knows when you've been bad or good

Who does that sound like? The obsession of Old Saint Nick with the morality of children too young to understand the word absolutely reeks of God’s constant interventions. Jehovah, the original condescending paternalist, co-opts what appears to be an honest folk myth by reaching his desiccated hand down Santa’s shirt to wield him as a puppet. Christians must have realized that Yahweh betrayed Himself in the Old Testament with His appalling displays of brutal malice. What child would trust and befriend Thanatos incarnate? Santa then is His stooge, His agent of deceit. Santa's disarming, cheery appearance is wholesome enough for Coca Cola, but the red of his suit should be the flag of distress to all children who meet him.

So be good for goodness sake!

It is this last line that dispels all doubt, if any remained. The lyrics implore the juvenile listener with an asenine alliteration, but bludgeon him with a hammer of circular reasoning. It should by now be obvious that the Mayor of the North Pole is none other than a mythical Dr. Mengele, torturing dreams on the rack of cynical dogma.

The tried and tested tool of Christianity has always been the hammer, not the carrot. While wordsmiths may have created a façade of jovial bonhomie with portly Father Christmas, inducing children to behave with promises of presents, it is the explicit threat of denied joy for misbehaviour that again resonates most strongly. Having failed before to win people over, Christianity falls short again when it betrays Santa as the wretched wrecker of childish innocence.


Would you work for Santa?

8 comments:

noodleguy said...

I wish I could write stuff this golden! I mean, I'm trying to point out a singular quote that was the best but the whole thing had me cracking up. Good illustrations too, I'm considering trying to illustrate my blog. It might be difficult since I'm more, eh, "educational."

Ending it with "Would YOU work for Santa?" was sheer brilliance though. Bravo, sir, bravo.

Have you read Ethan Frome though? At the end of that book the main characters (attempt) to kill themselves by crashing into a tree with a sled. That's what Jingle Bells always reminded me of.

Dani' El said...

Abuse of thesaurus!
10 yards!
4th down!

Frodoslave gets coal in his tiny stocking this year since Satanta knows he's been a pedantic little boy! :-p

FrodoSaves said...

I'll have you know I barely resorted to a thesaurus at all! 98% of the over the top verbosity is entirely on my head. ;)

Noodles,

No I haven't read Ethan Frome. Worth checking out? The holidays are always a good time to get some books read. Currently working on Stephen Hawking then have some H.P. Lovecraft to finish off. What can I say, I'm complicated!

Thanks for the compliments. I'm quite pleased with the way some of the cartoons have turned out. Sort of charming in their modesty. Like a hobo standing on a street corner telling off color jokes.

piggymceatsalot said...

speaking of asinine....I think you overlooked N'Sync's Christmas album...

It's a wonderful feeling
Feel the love in the room
From the floor to the ceiling
It's that time of year
Christmastime is here
And with the blessings from above
God sends you his love
And everything's okay

...dem's some RHYMES, frodo

piggymceatsalot said...

P.S. happy 1000 visitors!

Frodo face cake??

Dani' El said...

Frodo,
Go ahead and read Ethan Frome if you want to compound your holiday depression.
I think I read it about 30 years ago and I still remember it when I want to cheer myself down.

Vitamin R said...

Every one knows Santa flies. There is no Santa Claus Lane. And:

ROTFLMAO!

As long as there's a Santa Claus.

But wait--if there's no Santa Claus Lane, then where does he live? Just North Pole? Does he at least have a PO Box? I'll bet either way the elves go through his mail, the tiny, sticky-fingered little creeps.

The tried and tested tool of Christianity has always been the hammer, not the carrot. While wordsmiths may have created a façade of jovial bonhomie with portly Father Christmas, inducing children to behave with promises of presents, it is the explicit threat of denied joy for misbehaviour that again resonates most strongly. Having failed before to win people over, Christianity falls short again when it betrays Santa as the wretched wrecker of childish innocence.

Funny, and true Presents if you're good, coal if you're not.

And those poor drunken reindeer. . . .

That milk-swilling, cookie-crunching bastid.

noodleguy said...

Bleh, Ethan Frome = not worth checking out. Best part of the book is when the sled crashes and they're about to die. Worst part of the book is when they don't :P

My FAVORITE cartoon which I have saved to my hard drive though is "Why nobody buy my tacos?" I have no idea why but it cracks me up.