This article originally appears at SkobeTV and has been reprinted here with permission from the author.
Christmas is here! It seems like only five months ago the department stores were rolling out their Christmas merchandise, and Christmas music already began taking over the radio. My, how the time has flown!
Yes, the patented Most Wonderful Time of the Year has come, and for the kids that means Santa Claus. For most children, that is Christmas. A man giving you free toys and all you have to give him in return are token attempts at being nice for a month and a few cookies? Sweet deal! Santa Claus has become an institution of generosity and a role model for the Holiday Spirit, and he’s one of our culture’s most beloved characters.
This is a mistake.
We think nothing of pushing the idea of Santa onto children. It’s fun for them (toys!) and we get to teach them about giving to others (that’s what we tell ourselves anyway). The problem is that Santa is a TERRIBLE role model, and we should keep him far away from the precious children. “That’s stupid,” you are surely saying, “How could goddamn Santa Claus be a bad role model?” Well, let’s start with the fact that Santa teaches kids to hate poor people.
Now, we all know that “Santa” is really just your parents buying all those new toys for you (SPOILER ALERT, I guess). The presents you get are determined by what your parents can and can’t afford. If you grew up in a well-off or affluent family, you probably got most of what was on your Christmas list and then some. If you grew up in a family that was often struggling to get by, you were lucky to get one or two things off your list, if anything. It was more likely that you got hand-me-down stuff or knock-off brand bargain bin toys. But kids don’t know that. From their perspective, the amount of shiny new toys you get is all determined by how naughty or nice you were. So when rich-kid Brad sees that poor-kid Jeff down the street didn’t get all those cool playthings and gadgets, his first instinct is that Jeff must have been naughty, and thus deserved to get nothing.
As we get older we realize that our parents were the ones buying everything, but the seeds have already been planted. Poor people bring their problems on themselves. Why, if only they would be nice/get a job, everything would be just fine.
Some of you are probably thinking, “That’s a bit of a reach” or “You’re looking too much into this.” I’m really not reaching all that far. Back when the whole Santa thing was starting, Ole’ Kris Kringle was used as a kid-friendly version of Judgment Day (Stephen Nissembaum’s The Battle For Christmas details the history and evolution of St. Nick quite well for anyone interested). The whole point was to judge kids, just with lower stakes. They simply didn’t get candy or toys instead of going to Hell.
But with the increased commercialization of Christmas, you could be the sweetest, nicest kid around, but if you dad has been unemployed for a year and a half and your mom is waiting tables just to try and keep the family afloat, you still won’t get an iPad. And you will be judged for it, because kids are dicks. And it carries on into the adult realm. I see people get sneered at because they don’t have a smartphone. When people can’t afford nice things, the default is that they aren’t working hard enough (aren’t nice enough), and very rarely do we think about all the other factors that may apply.
But Santa isn’t just waging class warfare. He is also waging war on capitalism itself. The fact that those seem counter-intuitive shows just how few fucks Santa gives. Let’s say you are a kid on Christmas, and as far as you know all the presents you get were made by Santa’s elves. That’s what we’ve always been told, Santa’s Workshop and all that. So you open your presents and find that you got an iPad. Huzzah! But wait, all of Santa’s gifts were made by the elves, right? That means that Santa and his elves are breaking just about every patent law ever created.
You know how Apple and Samsung are eternally locked in an epic battle over patents and copyrights? Santa takes a shit all over that. Intellectual property means nothing to him. He is more than happy to rip off other companies and individuals, and steal their sales and profits by giving away their products for free.
Santa is a thieving bastard, yet he is showered with cultural praise and put on a pedestal for kids. We hope that what they take away from the whole enterprise is how generous and giving Santa is. But it’s easy to be giving when it’s other people’s ideas and products that you’re sharing. Why not make your own brands of tablets and game counsels and action figures and compete with the rest of the free market, Comrade Claus?
And all that’s not counting the obvious, blatant disregard for privacy. Everyone throws a fit about all the information Facebook and Google collect about us, or the NSA listening in on our calls, but we give Santa a free pass. He sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake. Hope you haven’t been masturbating because he probably gets off on it. Santa isn’t just judging you, he is pervasively invading every aspect of your life. No matter how paranoid or how careful you are, YOU CAN NEVER ESCAPE HIS GAZE.
So as the holidays come and go, remember to keep your children away from that fat, elitist, voyeuristic, thieving asshole before he ruins their innocence. And yeah, explaining all this to your kid may shatter their childhood, but that’s what good parenting is all about. Plus, it still isn’t as traumatic as five months of Christmas music on the radio.