Oh, you thought our Thanksgiving op-eds were bad? Gird your stockings for the least wonderful time of the year, when the merry gentlepeople of MEL attempt to outdo one another with the most heinous holiday takes we can unwrap. We can already feel the angry tweets nipping at our noses.
As a 32-year-old adult male, I can confidently say it’s been at least a decade since I believed in Santa Claus. These days, in fact, the jolly ol’ fraud means nothing to me. So why is it that every November the fat bastard is suddenly in every other commercial on my television, winking at the camera and trying to get me to buy a Mercedes, cable plan or jeans?
I know, I know, commercials are rife with imaginary beings trying to get little kids to buy all sorts of shit, so put Santa in a commercial for toys or M&Ms and suddenly you’ve got the rapt attention of every unwitting youth in the room. Maybe that’s what the NHS had in mind with its controversial commercial showing Santa dying of COVID:
In fairness, it wasn’t all that more traumatizing than this spot from Icelandic Glacial, wherein Santa appears to be an adulterous monster:
Which brings me to the point of this whole exercise: Ban Santa from any commercial geared toward anyone over the age of 12.
I mean, what am I — again, an adult male — to take away from him trying to sell me a midsize sedan in the series of Chevy commercials below? That no one, not even Santa, can save themselves from becoming another cog in the machine? That devastating circumstances have led to him losing his cushy position at the North Pole, and now he’s forced to make ends meet being tortured by customers as a local car salesman?
And that’s assuming we play along and suspend our disbelief. Watching those commercials with reality in mind, and you realize that this is some bearded, Chevy-slingin’ asshole. Imagine how depressing it’d be to see a real hero from your childhood appearing in commercials decades later to sell trash bags, antifreeze or a Medicare hotline.
Some may argue that placing Santa into adult-focused commercials is an easy way to inject holiday spirit into an ad. Sorry, not buying it. There are plenty of other ways to communicate holiday spirit: snow, holly, ribbons, firewood, a Christmas tree — hell, anything in red and green.
Does this leave room for corporations to turn themselves into the magical, compassionate benefactors of society rather than Santa? Yeah it does, smart guy. But at least that conversation opens the possibility of showing the actual human labor that makes it all happen, rather than just saying “elves do it for free and they like it.” It also no longer renders Santa as the walking, talking manifestation of how deeply entrenched capitalism is in our values and traditions — best evidenced by the fact that everything we know and love about him today was more or less created by Coca-Cola.
Not that Santa likes it either. When he’s not trying to screw someone’s wife, he mostly appears to be a miserable old man who, after centuries of back-breaking labor, has finally surrendered to the crushing demands of consumer culture. As such, rather than make the toys in-house at the North Pole, he’s opted to license out his image to sell everything from an Infiniti to crappy jewelry. Case in point: This year’s ~viral~ Santa commercial featuring Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta for Capital One.
If companies really want to grab my attention, they should pull Santa from their commercials and embrace the spirit of giving. And by that, I mean they can embrace the spirit of giving me a free luxury vehicle, diamonds or even just some loose deli meat.