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Christmas Commentary Uncategorized

Rudolph’s North Pole: Bastion of Oppression?

I keep threatening to come back here on a regular basis, and I don’t, but every once in a great while I’m reminded how the world suffers from my waning vigilance and gross inattention, and I’m ashamed to realize how bad things have gotten. And I’m not talking just about President Orangutrump and his bilious lackeys. Most of this I can swallow. I take a pill that helps. (No, not Xanax). But sometimes, things get too far and I need to step in.

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I found this little gem on Facebook this morning. You can read it on your own time, but the gist is that Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer has “triggered” a whole bunch of melodramatically over-sensitive little flowers and the only solution to their vexing, simmering itch is to light up Twitter with indignation–to delightfully entertaining ends.

First off, this isn’t new. Who above the age of seven has watched this heart-warming holiday tradition without chuckling over what a complete asshole Santa, Coach and Rudolph’s Dad are at the beginning of the movie. But come on, they’re no different than everyone else’s republican dad ever, their love submerged beneath a suffocating preoccupation with social status, a concern about what might be whispered behind their backs at church, or how the guys “down at the club” are going to give them a razzing, even if only to use pseudo-dominant behavior as a means to distract from their own senses of unfulfilled dreams and inadequacy. I mean: come on. Why is the patriarchy such a bunch of jerks? Because they’re miserable, and deep down they know it–perhaps not consciously, but certainly at a deeper, cellular level–with absolute certainty, just as they know they’ll never fill that dark, beckoning void in their souls. Has no one ever read Updike? Not that I’d encourage anyone to do such a thing.

The Tweet-storm at #RudolphTheRednosedReindeer has been impressive; much of it, fortunately, tongue in cheek. But there is not shortage of self-defined social reformers eager to protect us from the Scourge of Bitter Santa–just as they leapt to shout “date rape,” however belatedly, over that steamy holiday icon, “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” That essay, and its dirty-minded revisionism, will find it’s way around the interwebs any day now, as it does each year. But that’s another story. Or is it?

The theme here is outrage junkies leaping to (often self-aggrandizing) accusations or offense or inappropriateness without regard for context. The question is: why do we have to be so candy-assed about our grievances, regardless of substance? I poke at the leftists because they’re “my people” despite how little they want to do with me, but it’s the same on the conservative side of things, where knickers are forever twisted by all matters associated with veterans, guns, flags, and–worst of all–the Dixie Chicks. Thanks, Obama.

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Oh, no.

Maybe…just maybe…this show is about ignorance ceding to understanding and acceptance? But that doesn’t fit with the undercurrent of vindictiveness inherent in revisionist post-modernist extremism. The agitated and aggrieved (i.e. “triggered”) aren’t looking for tolerance and a better world so much as they’re salivating for revenge. They don’t want to propagate understanding and unity–they want things to burn, presumably because they were unhappy in high school. Some people get it:

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To me, and any rational, functional human, Rudolph is nothing less than a tale of the triumph of those who live outside orthodoxy, and to those who strive to shatter the concept of “normal” without name-calling and retaliatory reverse discrimination. But if we’re going to play these games, consider cool Cornelius; what’s he but an earth-raping prospector eager to strip mine the north the moment he finds a lick of treasure. Or the sweet little gay elf whose toxic self-loathing leads him to cripple the noble wild Bumble Beast by yanking out all his teeth and dooming the once proud king of the north to a lifetime of servitude in chains? Metaphor for conservative environmental policy? Cautionary tale on the tenuous nature of freedom and democracy 120 years after the supposed end of slavery? I think so. And what about these bigots branding Cornelius as a hipster? Because he’s got a beard and earmuffs and liked corn meal? Well, I can’t be the only bearded misanthrope out there who puts down his johnny cake to wave a hearty “fuck you” at those appearance-based presumptions.

I find the whole lot of you problematic.

 

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Christmas Tunesday video

Danielle LoPresti: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Because it’s all about the kids when it comes down to it, right? One of my favorite covers of a Christmas classic.

 

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Christmas Photo I Like

Christmas Tree & Reflection

Having trouble getting into the spirit? I’ve lined up a couple of weeks worth of fun holiday pictures I’ve scrounged and stolen from around the internet over the years, some of which I’ve shared before, some I haven’t.

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Christmas

Yule Tree

Having trouble getting into the spirit? I’ve lined up a couple of weeks worth of fun holiday pictures I’ve scrounged and stolen from around the internet over the years, some of which I’ve shared before, some I haven’t.

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Christmas Photo I Like Uncategorized

Christmas Truck

Having trouble getting into the spirit? I’ve lined up a couple of weeks worth of fun holiday pictures I’ve scrounged and stolen from around the internet over the years, some of which I’ve shared before, some I haven’t. s_c15_09549402

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Christmas Commentary Uncategorized

Hillsboro’s War on Christmas

A demonstrator dressed as a Santa Claus is arrested by riot policemen during clashes with students in Santiago

Two things burrow their way under my skin every year at Christmas, two sides of an ugly coin. The first and generally loudest are the inevitable cries about “a war on Christmas” that, at some point each year, generally when ratings are ebbing, are spewed by right wing trolls and other despicable human beings gleefully exploiting the fears of the waning evangelicals. Bill O’Reilly, the particularly cynical and slimy Fox provocateur, is one of the worst of the breed, but he is by no means alone; any right wing loudmouth looking to grab a ratings point or two can play the game.

Just as bad, and sometimes worse, are the hyper-sensitive knee-jerk liberals determined to protect the huddling masses from the onslaught of what they perceive as sectarian propaganda—the loudly mewing left who, if they could, would prove the spastic fears of the overwrought right to be absolutely on target—the delicate flowers who would indeed wage war against Christmas, if they could.

All those bastards, left and right, drive me crazy—worse than Donner went when he saw Rudolph’s Vegas-strip nose. We don’t have a War on Christmas. We don’t need a War on Christmas. Stop pretending there is one. Stop plotting to begin one. I mean, it’s Christmas, for chrissakes! Lighten up.

Santa under arrestAnd that brings us to the most ludicrous story from last week: officials in the Hillsboro, Oregon (a suburb of Portland, which should explain a lot) issued a memo instructing teachers and staff not to include Santa Claus in their seasonal decorations. Specifically:

“You may still decorate your door or office if you like, but we ask that you be respectful and sensitive to the diverse perspectives and beliefs of our community and refrain from using religious-themed decorations or images like Santa Claus,” the Hillsboro School District said in a letter to staff, television station KATU reported.

Full disclosure, lest you think me a stealth Christmas Warrior—I’m actually a fire-breathing atheist, deeply resentful of the intrusions of Christianity into my life, my children’s education, every level of our government, and so forth. I understand the compulsion to liberate children from the perpetuation of bronze-age superstition as a guiding force in our culture, but I’m also as deeply concerned with power structures that would force blind secularism on our day to day life. Christianity is deeply embedded in our culture and our children should not be shielded from it. Indeed, I believe that we are doing a great disservice to those children when we shroud them from one of the dominant streams of our culture by not preparing them to function in a reality that is filled with people who identify as Christian. This is not the place to be ostrich-heading.

But, but, but…I hear a dozen of my friends sputtering over being “forced” to face Christianity when they shouldn’t have to, if they don’t want to, and I’m truly sorry about that. I even understand: I had to spend a few days in Baltimore several years ago, something no good western Pennsylvanian wishes upon even the worst of enemies. I saw Ravens jerseys and ball caps everywhere, and I survived. My children did not become Ravens fans because of the exposure. We may even have developed a grudging sort of respect for them and their strange beliefs—we understand them a little bit better. Nothing leads to anger, resentment, and conflict faster than ignorance.

It is utter madness to ban Santa—Santa!—who ceased to be a primarily religious icon decades ago. If anything, Santa represents generosity, kindness, fair play and morality—values I believe to be universal. He also stands for marketing and commercialism, but not ever icon is perfect. Still, I’m okay with being a little more sensitive to overtly religious icons—crosses, angels, manger scenes—but I’m stuck on this idea that maybe instead of all this fear of offending we reach further for some real understanding. Instead of throwing Rudolph and Santa and all that stuff out of school, instead of banning stuff we—drum roll—practice inclusion. Give me Santa. Hell, give me shepherds guarding their flocks by night but let’s hear about the Maccabees, let’s hear about Ramadan.

I know there is an adamant mass of folks who stridently cling to the conviction that America is about white people sitting around and sternly respecting our Hebrew god, but the America I see—even in my corner of northern Appalachia—is generously populated with Hindis, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and others in mind-bending subsects, diversity within diversity, and I don’t think it is overly idealistic to believe that a lot of our domestic problems—and eventually our international problems—could be mitigated if we actually knew who the people we’re always so eager to dislike actually are.

In the meantime, let’s skip the war on Christmas, both the perceived and the proposed.

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Christmas Uncategorized

Festive Holiday Photos: Santa Dash

Festive Holiday Photos From Around the Internet. I’ve got a bunch of ’em I’ve saved to pummel you with this season–largely unsourced, their presence here larcenous but well-intentioned. Enjoy ’em until I get that cease and desist notice.

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art Christmas Funny and/or Strange

Weird Christmas Card of the Year

4 X 6

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Christmas Funny and/or Strange meme

Christmeme: Disappointed Jesus

One thing is certain, The Lord haveth great sweaters.

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art Christmas Photo I Like

Golden Christmas Tree

I found this on Tumblr back in January.  Nice, eh?

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