Kurt Russell, a good-looking man widely considered to be sexy, is currently starring as Santa in a new, original Netflix Christmas movie. This is arguably the best-looking Santa we’ve seen, and he’s still played by a 66-year-old actor. This raises an obvious question: Why has Santa never been hot until now?
Go ahead, conjure the first mental image of Santa you can think of. He usually looks something like this:
Portly, jowly, old, overweight, red-nosed, jolly. We can blame political cartoonist Thomas Nast for giving us this typical image in 1823, though Santa’s always been old and kind of schlubby. Look back in history, and Santa has been a lot of things — a Greek Christian bishop, a 16th-century Englishman in a green robe, a Norse god. He’s been a half-goat, half-demon companion of Santa Claus who punishes bad children. He’s tried to cop a feel of your mom when he delivers the gifts. He’s been played by a series of old white guys, and like, Tim Allen.
What he never is? Sexy. There are a number of songs that sexualize Santa, from “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” to “Backdoor Santa,” to “Santa Claus Got Stuck in My Chimney.” But Santa always looks the same: at best like your grandpa, at worst like a dirty old perv.
The closest we ever get in movies to a hot Santa is when, in the Hallmark Movie Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus, Steve Guttenberg plays Santa’s son, who must take over the role of Santa proper because he’s retiring. But Guttenberg — now as Santa — has to find a Mrs. Claus quick.
No offense to Mr. Guttenberg, but this is a more hapless than hot Santa. All he has going for him is that he isn’t roughly 1,747 years old, like real Santa.
Let’s consider the facts: Santa’s job requires a good deal of physical strength, endurance and energy. He spends all year running a complex global operation of gift-making and distribution, maintaining extensive and detailed lists of children’s inherent goodness (or lack thereof). Once a year he hauls ass through the sky delivering presents. If nothing else, Santa at least needs to be in pretty good shape to keep this up.
So why, we ask, does Santa not get the classic action-hero or even superhero treatment and look like this:
I know what you’re thinking: No one wants a hot Santa. Not even women.
Not true, if responses to this Santa are to be believed. “So Daddy,” Overwatch player Ana_Amari responded to the image of buff Santa on Reddit. “Would let him pin me any day.”
Further proof that some women want hot Santas: In Canada, there’s a hot Santa called Fashion Santa who models clothes and works at the Yorkdale Mall. His name is Paul Mason.
And women are way into his hotness.
He was so popular that, when the mall tried to replace him with a different hot Santa due to a legal dispute, mall-goers weren’t having it.
Mexico also has a hot Santa model at a department store called El Palacio de Hierro.
And men think he’s hot, too:
(Translation: Dear Mr. Claus, I want you to come through my chimney.)
So why do we insist on putting hot Santa in a corner? Is our hangup about Santa because he’s a father figure? Can’t be — we sexualize hot dads all the time. Just check out the DILFS of Disneyland Instagram account. Okay, he’s more like a grandfather figure, as a female friend pointed out to me. But grandpas can be hot, too. Consider hot granddad meme “Mr. Steal Your Grandma,” with an adoring, lust-filled fanbase.
Is the discomfort over a hot Santa because Santa’s supposed to be family-friendly? We happily sexualize other male figures who exist entirely in domestic settings. Mr. Clean, an old gay sailor, is a beefcake who happens to be a magician on the hardwoods who can shine your floors and inspire fantasies of erotic domestic bliss.
It’s not that we never sexualize men + Christmas — there are roundups on the internet claiming to compile “Hot Santas” for your Christmas arousal. But make no mistake: These are just “hot” dudes in Santa hats.
Not surprisingly, perhaps our truer, more base Santa desires are being worked out in porn — the one place hot Santa gets his due. “Santa” is the top search term that skyrockets on Pornhub during the holidays, according to a MEL look at the anatomy of a good holiday porno. There, we learn that Santa is a fully actualized sexual being. He fucks Mrs. Claus. He bangs a few elves. He sleeps around. He kisses Mommy.
This notion extends to a handful of hot or naughty Santa memes where Santa gets his jollies sexually with a number of ladies (though to be clear, he still looks like old Santa).
But it’s clear from these depictions that “naughty” or sexual Santa is considered transgressive. Men even joke about the ultimate punishment being Santa getting it on with your woman.
Which leads me to a possible theory: Maybe, just maybe, men are actually threatened by the very idea of a hot Santa. Here’s a father figure man who is affluent enough to provide for all the children, but who underneath that red suit might be a red-blooded man with a sexual appetite.
“Santa has to be fat so he’s nonthreatening,” my colleague John McDermott argues. “You don’t want a hot guy coming down the chimney to cuck your wife on Jesus’ birthday. That’ll ruin Christmas.”