Harken, consumers, for Christmas is almost upon us. Black Friday left many a soul battered and weary, and a veritable forest of miniature trees is facing yuletide xenocide. Wallets are being hastily emptied, and families are scrambling to work all the shifts possible to sneak in as much frigid vacation time as possible. What a cheerful holiday!
I never celebrated Christmas as a child or teenager, and haven’t actively participated in the merriment as an adult. The holiday, to me, has always had a pretty obvious dark side to it, an underlying evil that can only be seen if you are a step or two removed from the jolly proceedings. And all of that malevolence can be traced back to one totalitarian figure: Santa Claus himself. Few children these days probably have any belief in the fat man, hopefully, but as long as Claus is a figure in the holiday, there’s trouble.
I’ve compiled six reasons why Santa is a totalitarian monster and should be removed from the collective imagination of childhood and consumerism.
He knows all
The song pretty much says that Santa can see you no matter where you are, awake or sleeping; his list contains the names of every single human child on the planet. In that way, he’s no different than Big Brother from 1984, or any other totalitarian dictator who has eyes and ears on everything. The Santa fantasy makes kids believe they’re being watched at all times.
He defines morality
Not only can Santa see and hear everything you do, he categorizes your actions into “naughty” and “nice.” There are no gray areas with this snowsuit-wearing mastermind; citizens receive gifts aplenty if they abide by his concrete laws, and get a pile of coal if they misbehave in any way. So, pretty much, if you don’t appease him, you attain the status of coal-covered laborer, fated to watch your Eloi friends (ever read The Time Machine?) traipse around with gifts for following every mandate.
He has slaves
Like Willy Wonka, the man has a faithful army of little creatures to do his bidding. The story goes that Wonka saved the Oompa-Loompas from a dangerous rainforest nation, so there’s a tiny bit of altruism there, but the elves just seem to be thoughtless, smiling workers, conditioned to believe they are helping the lives of all the wee kids out there. It’s like they’re on an eternal dose of soma from Brave New World. And they’ll never escape or realize individuality. Santa, you monster!
He’s in your home
Has anyone ever thought it strange that millions of people allow Santa into their home, mostly because of the promise of toys and other gifts? Even stranger, you have to leave him sweets and dairy products to make sure he doesn’t do something unseemly in your home? Only a dystopian dictator has that kind of power over people. Sure, Santa, come right in and eat our food, so long as we’re rewarded in kind!
He’s unrelentingly happy
Never trust a human who’s all rosy cheeked and smiley 100% of the time. Santa’s demeanor is that of a grinning villain, a megalomaniac so jolly as to make you wonder, what’s under that amusing personality? If you saw Catching Fire, the second in the decent quadrangle of Jennifer Lawrence dystopia flicks, you remember Donald Sutherland as President Snow grinning maliciously and offering friendship. How is that the kind of aged friend you want for your next generation?
The real problem with Santa is he embodies the exact opposite of how kids and adults actually receive their holiday presents. Workers suffer immensely in factories for little pay, to produce useless electronic dribble that looks ridiculously sleek, which is marked up in price and sold to people who have little idea of where their shiny objects come from. If the Stork is a way to convince little humans that their genesis is not a messy and sticky affair, then Santa is a bubbly evasion of the truths behind capitalism and mass consumerism. You have people gobbling up a story about magic and elves and reindeer instead of the working conditions of an iPhone factory. Ho, ho, ho, indeed.
And if you’re not convinced, just look at what happened to the Grinch. He was an anarchic monster defined by his desire to avoid the homogenous Christmas utopia, a rebel to be celebrated. At the end of the book (or movie, you screen-hogging bunch), though, he’s subsumed into Christmas joy and loses all sense of identity. Santa and his goons convert another mind, and it’s taught as a happy ending. I’ll stick with Chanukah, thank you (we know dreidel is gambling).