Saturday, December 24, 2011

Just like the rest of us, Santa gets dumber, duller and more helpless every year

Since his first appearance in popular literature, which was probably "A Visit From Saint Nicholas" (published in 1823,) Santa Claus and Christmas have, for many people, gone together like turkey and Thanksgiving. Thomas Nast gave him a recognizable face in the 1870s, and soon the jolly fat guy's run as the most successful marketing gimmick of all time was under way.

In the 20th century, we got Santa Claus-themed greeting cards, candy, cartoons, car commercials- heck, there was hardly a product the big guy WASN'T selling between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. But whether he was helping Jim Varney save Christmas or sliding down a hill on an electronic razor, one thing remained constant: Santa was always on top of the situation, always in charge.

Not anymore.

On television, Santa has joined the rest of the electronics-addicted population in being totally incapable of taking a step without first consulting a product assembled by a preteen girl in China. A product which provides instant information concerning topics he Needs to Know About Right Now- the current temperature in cities 3000 miles apart, for example. Or how many billion more people he has to visit tonight.

(Quick aside: I've had more than enough of the insufferably arrogant "all humans are materialistic Christians on December 25" theme. No, Santa does NOT have 3.7 billion people to visit tonight- he can skip the Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Calvinists, etc. , not to mention all the Christians who believe that Christmas has nothing to do with maxing out one's freaking Visa card on presents and ostentatious light displays. Ok, now back to my original rant....)

I'm used to being Santa Claus portrayed as a silly, more than a little creepy stalker this time of year (that "Santa Claus as Truck Salesman") ad is REALLY weird- would you really buy a vehicle from a guy who looked like that?) But until this year, he always seemed to be the boss of each situation. Now he's begging for information every five seconds and being admonished by a disembodied voice to "take it easy on the cookies" (Santa has to "take it easy on the cookies" on the one night they are provided, free of charge, in unlimited quantities?) Suddenly it's not magic that gets Santa to every house on the planet (again, groan...) but a downloadable App.

Never mind how silly this all makes everyone else who uses this device (not that they didn't look plenty silly already.) Does the average human need to know any of this information? Isn't it already available with a quick online search or (gasp) a call to an actual human being? (What am I thinking? Phones aren't used to talk to people any more- just to "stay connected.")

Anyway, at least this ad ends before Santa asks his phone for directions back to his sleigh. That's probably coming next year, because by then Santa- along with the rest of us pampered idiots- will have become so damned helpless we'll be getting lost in our living rooms without the assistance of turn by turn directions. Bah Humbug.


  1. As I've said before, these ads remind me of the Mad Magazine story called 'Blobs'; they start out by talking about how the decadent Romans were overwhelmed by lean, hungry barbarians from the North and finished by saying that with our modern conveniences, we'll be helpless blobs ripe to be conquered by lean, hungry barbarians from the East. (Or, as they are more properly called, the ground forces of the People's Liberation Army.)

  2. Global population is about 7 billion, so the 3.7 billion figure is actually about right.