Home » People & Culture » Kidnap the Santa Claus?

Kidnap the Santa Claus?

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

There has to be more to it, doesn’t there? Doesn’t this “Santa” guy have some ulterior motive?

jackThat’s what my teenage daughter tells me is behind the latest trend in holiday specials, the destruction of Santa or revelation that Santa himself has a serious flaw of some kind. Nothing could possibly be that pure and nice, goes the reasoning, so what is he really up to? Giving away presents to little children just so that they’ll sit on your lap in a Department Store sounds pretty sleazy when you put it the right way.

I think the whole problem starts with “Nightmare Before Christmas”, one of my favorite works of animation ever. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s about ennui and hidden love as the Pumpkin King wants to try his hand at Christmas in the land where holidays live. (the following are video links) Santa Clause is kidnapped and later tortured in this movie, but is ultimately rescued in time to “put things right”.

From there, it gets considerably worse. In Futurama, Santa is a robot programmed to judge who is naughty and who is nice with ruthless efficiency. Unfortunately, his standards were set too high, and he invariably judges everyone to be naughty. Oh, and he does his best to kill the naughty who find themselves out on Xmas Eve. It is used to bring a new meaning to Sleigh/Slay, and the Mistletoe becomes a TOW Missile. It’s not for the delicate-minded.

After this, all best are off with Invader ZIM. Discovering that people are drawn to the character of Santa, a plucky invader from a planet known for enslaving decides to take over the Santa character with predictable results.

Where did all this come from? Is nothing sacred anymore, not even Santa? The short answers are that it comes from a deep cynicism about our own culture and no, nothing is sacred anymore. We aren’t a people that really want icons of goodness and cheer cluttering up our lives. Santa, like just about everything, is just one more thing that can be skewered to great effect. It’s like the scary clown figure that has become more popular than an ordinary clown.

I admit, I find all this stuff really funny. But it’s still a bit sad to think that there is no one standard of purity and happiness that hasn’t become fodder for a few jokes. My kids are growing up, so some of this I have to expect. What’s especially galling is that I brought all of these things into their lives. I only have myself to blame. Wait! I know! I can blame Santa! This was his ulterior motive all along! Right? Oh, whatever.

3 thoughts on “Kidnap the Santa Claus?

  1. Awwww, I LOVE The Nightmare Before Christmas! It’s so sweet–a quality missing from other Christmas satires.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch Bad Santa… 😉

  2. Unfortunately those of us who are a little appalled at the tradition of spending big amounts of money we can’t afford on Christmas gifts are probably responsible for the backlash against Santa Claus. I have nothing against celebrating this holiday. In fact, I think it is a disservice to Christians everywhere that other people get wrapped up on gift-buying and forget the original meaning of the holiday. Santa is just one representation of the jolly gift-buying grandparental-like figure and now that we can freely attack the materialism of the time of year, we can freely attack Santa.

    A side note: as kids we never used to get our main present from Santa. It was always made clear to us that Mom and Dad worked hard so they could get us those gifts. We never had any doubt about where they came from. We did get some little goodies like chocolates and nuts in our stockings that we hung for Santa. A little childlike fun is okay, and I hope what we can restore to the big guy.

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