Evil Santa Penguin

Santa PenguinI wish I could wait until Christmas for this. But it’s gonna be old news by then. Aisha Harris over at Slate, proposed the very reasonable idea, Santa Claus Should Not Be a White Man Anymore. It’s pretty straightforward, actually. As our country becomes more and more diverse racially, we need to let go of the idea that “white” is the “default.”

Her idea: the Christmas Penguin! I am totally on board with this. I mean, it doesn’t have to be a penguin. But just think back to one of my favorite Christmas holiday shows, Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town. The first part of that story is just great. He lives in the hills and he comes down to give toys to the kids in town during a time when everyone has fireplaces. But as we say in the software biz, it don’t scale. There’s no way that Santa could bring all those presents to all those boys and girls—especially given that only a small percentage of them have fireplaces! This is just madness and I don’t dig it.

And by the way, what the fuck is going on with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Why can’t Hermey be a dentist if he wants to be? Because the elves are slaves, that’s why! The whole Santa Claus myth has gotten to the point where we cannot deny some very creepy aspects of the whole story. Wizards lose their powers unless they are evil? What the fuck were those elves doing for food anyway? And most of all: you mean Don Adams wasn’t one of the voices in Rudolph?

Actually, I have a big problem with the Santa myth. It perpetuates the most pernicious myth in America: justice. Santa gives to good girls and boys. Except that he tends to give crummy gifts to poor ones and really great ones to rich ones. You don’t have to be Aristotle to figure out what that means: rich girls and boys and better girls and boys. So at least if it’s a penguin, you could say, “He checked the list many times, unfortunately, Santa Penguin can’t read, because, you know, he’s a fucking penguin!”

Well the Fox News crew got hold of this news and they were burning mad. The very idea! We all know that Santa is a white man, just like Jesus! Harris was kind enough to inform them that, hey guys, Santa isn’t real. She also provided a little history that I thought was very interesting:

Sure, as Kelly File guest Monica Crowley notes, Santa is loosely based on Saint Nicholas, a fourth-century Greek bishop known for secret gift-giving. But while the names “St. Nicholas” and “Santa Claus” are often used interchangeably, modern-day Santa hardly resembles his supposed inspiration, who was depicted as tall and thin and, you know, Greek. He did not have a workshop in the North Pole nor eight faithful reindeer. Santa as we know him today is the result of wild imaginations and creative input from many people across centuries, including, as I noted in my piece, Washington Irving and Clement Clark Moore. He’s utterly divorced from his religious and historical roots.

Which, of course, is why Santa is so popular. He’s fun and advertising executives can do whatever the fuck they like with him. They can have him summer in Florida where he drinks Pepsi instead of Coke. Or he can be an evil robot in Futurama who guns down everyone but Zoidberg. Or he can be a penguin. In fact, how about an evil penguin? A reverse Robin Hood penguin who gives lots of toys to the kids who already have too many and little or no toys to those with few. What’s more, he doesn’t give half a shit about the kids around the world who are starving to death or dying of malaria.

Now that’s a kind of Santa I can believe in!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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