I don’t like Santa Claus.
Every year, someone comes along with an argument against Santa Claus. Either they’ve got some problem with all the seasonal cheer or they’ve realized that, by being an absolute curmudgeon, no one else is really going to favour having their company at this particularly cheerful time of year, so they resolve to take steps toward bringing down the collective-joy-level as much as possible.
It appears difficult to argue effectively against Santa. He’s invisible, for one thing; traditionally this has implied immunity to logic. He’s also nearly omniscient (all-knowing) and presumably omnibenevolent (all-loving). Santa might also be construed as omnipotent (all-powerful) since it would necessarily seem to require nearly-infinite ‘powers’ of one kind or another in order to command the world’s only remaining elf civilization into constructing every possible variety of wished-for toy-stuffs and then to go around delivering them world-wide in a single evening with a floating sleigh carried along through mere thin air by just some magical flying reindeer.
Often, people will suggest that the whole Christmas tradition has perpetually devolved over the last century into simply another streamlined consumer phenomenon: now it is just another regularly scheduled orgy of gratification wherein humans choose to unleash our desires for all the greatest and latest products to purchase, and then present them to one another. People will shout themselves out of breath to blame the greedy multinational corporations, the global media, and those poor over-worked politicians for stirring up these unnecessarily wasteful shenanigans and, in the process, whoring out precious culture in the name of a simple and plainly unending desire for profit.
In some sense, it is not so much that these loosely formed arguments are incorrect. Likely, it could be said that they are more relevant than ever. Despite all this hot-air coming off our ‘global economic meltdown’, despite being caught up in a huff over an ever-more frightening ‘war on terror’, consumer culture is still very much blossoming. Every year in this tradition, mindless consumption seems to become a globalized prerogative and we continue to set a perfectly healthy, practical example for the next generations of humanity by teaching them that it’s OK to forget nearly everything that really matters in the name of celebrating some sacred metaphorical symbols.
All of this sort of rambling tends to skimp out on what I think is a more crucial point: besides working to continuously perpetuate the already perverted norms and values of popularized consumer culture, the morbid mythology of Santa Claus works in fact on the large-scale to practically ritualize the passive acceptance of obviously McDonald-ized falsehoods. – in children, no less. In reality, the pre-packaged Santa Claus mythos, pumped up and promulgated throughout our culture, is obviously well beyond ludicrous.
Whatever, right? Popular culture regularly feeds us all kinds of impossible myths about what we’re supposed to believe, what we’re supposed to like, how good Coke is supposed to taste, and luckily we’re already been simultaneously programmed to choose for ourselves through all these flashy codes and messages while freely establishing our character as individuals.
The fact that it is a mass-distributed deliberate falsehood, actually nurtured and promoted through widespread cultural propagation, is perhaps not at all a warrant for much worry or surprise. A more careful understanding shows that one main product of this mythology seems to be general control over the behaviour of children engendered through mystical cultural narrative which promotes a form of normative disciplinary obedience in exchange for gifts under the ever-pressing but always-imaginary threat of unavoidable moral judgement cast down from the North Pole by some jolly-but-judgmental being.
A second point of note is that this mythology is normally fed directly to our children throughout culture, over the course of what are their most crucially formative years, deliberately teaching the passive acceptance of falsehood. All the while these kids are paying time and money to go to school and learn about what everyone allegedly calls ‘the truth’.
Children should really grow up with the benefit of ‘knowing’ as much as they can about the world so that when they become adults they’ll have a better chance of understanding and adapting to the truth of practical reality and likewise be therefore more prone to not going absolutely bat-shit insane. If children are normally expected to grow up and become ‘good’ adults while their parents, relatives, the media, and even ‘teachers’ are all-the-while willing to provide them with deliberately falsified knowledge of the world, can we really say our children are being treated fairly or justly?
Are we really doing the best we can for young children by continuing to purposefully deceive them? In the end, what is said about the real value of truth when we’re willing to make a nearly sacred cultural ritual out of feeding the next generation of youth deliberate falsity and then cheerfully proceeding with joyous celebrations?
Photo courtesy en.wikipedia.org