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December 02 2009

Trailer for "Yes, Virginia" starring the voice of Neil Patrick Harris. Upcoming Christmas special stars the vocal talents of NPH, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Alfred Molina.

I was slightly confused at first because "Yes, Virginia" is also one of my favorite albums (by The Dresden Dolls). The movie looks cute though.
Yeah, it's an adaptation of Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus.

Nooo, stop perpetuating the lie ! Seriously, I love the festive fun of most holidays and all (friends/family/food/fun) regardless of the religions origins, but why is it still socially acceptable to lie to children ? I mean yeah, finding a gentler way to tell your kid Fido's dead is one thing (just had to deal with that one recently, helped my aunt and uncle find the words to tell my little cousins, he was kinda my dog too, took care of him on weekends often, sucks), but creating a full false figure for kids to buy into when you yourself know it's untrue is strange and mean, IMO (heh, I didn't much like it when I found out as a kid and it was probably what kicked off my occasional suspiciousness of crap adults told me). I'd never spoil it for a child (not my place, plus could get in a bunch of shit with family member or friend who is the parent), but if I actually end up having kids some day, no way it's continuing.

Looks like they're portraying the other little girl who tells Virginia Santa isn't real as a little bitch, and while it's true that some kids tell other kids just to lord it over them that they knew sooner/are more grown up or something, I think sometimes it's also just kids sharing knowledge.

If this plays out anything like the animated film they showed us in Grade 3 at my Catholic school (not that Santa Claus is necessarily of any one denomination, despite being based on a Christian saint), the message will still be cheese and the answer to Virginia's letter will be a schmaltzy cop-out.

What were some of your guys' favorite Christmas specials as a kid ? Mine are pretty typical--Rudolph (claymation) and Frosty (spoiler: he dies and it was pretty gut-wrenching at the time 'cause of the little girl crying, but hey, I was 6). Maybe The Little Drummer Boy too.

[ edited by Kris on 2009-12-03 09:07 ]
It's a tough call, Kris. On the one hand, it helps to nurture the imagination, but also helps to keep kids grounded in reality when they get older. On the other hand, it is still a bold-faced lie and could be argued as a form of abuse, since you're deliberately manipulating a child's mind and brainwashing them to suit your own agenda as a parent. The classic film, Miracle on 34th Street deals with this material very effectively, though I myself am partial to the mid-90s' remake written and produced by the late, John Hughes.

Personally, I was fine with the idea of Santa Claus when I was a kid. When I got older, I just sort of figured it out on my own that he wasn't real (which I think is the healthier way to go about it, rather than have someone be mean and flat out tell you it's all fake). Looking back on it now, I consider it a fun, positive time in my youth.

St. Nick was at one time supposedly a real person, so there is that. In a way, this is no different really than having children believe in God. I mean, we're told that according to a book, Jesus was a real guy. Santa apparently lives in one of the coldest (if not the coldest) places on Earth, The North Pole. There, with his wife and a bunch of Elves, he's able to keep tabs on the attitudes of all children in existence. After calculating a list of the worthy (nice) kids, he flies all around the world (or at least North America) in a sleigh pulled by eight, flying Reindeer. Fueled by an apparently consistent diet of nothing but milk and cookies, he magically squeezes his fat ass (most likely diabetic) down a chimney (basically breaking and entering, especially in homes without chimneys) and rewards the morally and ethically pure children with all the material possessions they could possibly want. He does all this throughout the course of one, single night.

This is more or less Jesus for our modern consumer culture, which is a perpetuated tale that sounds just as silly and preposterous, if not more so. A book has been written and rewritten over the years, educating the world on the life and beliefs of this really swell dude named Jesus. The book contains accounts from his entourage of twelve, who are the originators of the greatest PR campaign in history. Conveniently, they were all men, as Jesus also was, apparently, so women get a really bad break here. They're declared as lesser beings who only exist in servitude of man. Even Mary, Jesus' mother experienced immaculate conception, meaning she was stuck with all the pain and hardship of having a child, but without the fun part (the sex).

So, Jesus is born, although there is debate about when. December 25th is actually a Pagan holiday and has nothing to do with Jesus' birthday (apparently) but I digress. He goes through life in a normal fashion (with a large chunk of his formative years conveniently stricken from the record), until he is revealed to be the son of God. From that point on, he devotes his life to "paying it forward" and teaching others how to do right by his old man. In addition to feeding large groups with very little, he also manages to walk on water and produce magic wine where none had previously existed.

Despite all these amazing feats of fancy, some people aren't convinced Jesus is who he says he is, or at least they're weary of his intentions. Meanwhile, Jesus sticks to his story, "Come on, I'm a good guy. I come from good stock. Have you met my Dad? He's the reason we're here. I'm just trying to help people lead better lives for themselves". Since this group of folks didn't ask for his help, they feel rather insulted which makes them angry and eventually violent. In a diabolical scheme worthy of a teen soap opera, one of Jesus' good buddies sells him out, ruining his dinner party.

The internet isn't invented yet, so these guys can't simply post nasty rumors about Jesus on Twitter. Even egging his house isn't cruel enough. Instead, they beat the stuffing out of the poor guy and torture him, Braveheart style. Mel Gibson would go on to make a powerful snuff film about it years later. Anyway, to top it all off, they nail Jesus to a cross, put a crown of thorns on his head and leave him out in the desert to starve and bleed to death. That'll show him. But, the joke's on those jerks because Big J comes back from the dead a mere three days later. I think his secret involved bunnies and colored eggs, which explains Easter.

My point is basically this: At issue should not be your belief in God, Jesus or even Santa Claus. What's important is what these ideas represent and how they make you feel. Though his message may sometimes get buried under capitalism and crass commercialism, the idea of Santa mainly helps to keep children on their best behavior, due to the promise of a reward down the line. Much like Jesus, Santa's mystical and larger than life background achieves this objective in a way that mortal authority figures cannot.

Also, one could easily argue this: "Dude, it's animated entertainment with a message about believing in the goodness in people. Just have fun with it." :)

NOTE: My snarky, pedestrian comments about Santa Claus and Jesus are in no way meant to offend anyone who may take these subjects more seriously. I'm simply having fun. I meant no disrespect.
"When I got older, I just sort of figured it out on my own that he wasn't real (which I think is the healthier way to go about it, rather than have someone be mean and flat out tell you it's all fake)."

Heh, one of the priests from the nearby church (they'd come and lecture/read parables occasionally) spoiled it for us. I wasn't mad at him for doing so. When I asked him why parents would lie to us/make it up, he shrugged and simply said "It is tradition" (in a thick Polish accent).

"Looking back on it now, I consider it a fun, positive time in my youth."

Up until the reveal, same for me. But I could have done without that bit of anger at my folks and at adults in general.

Far as stimulating the imagination, we have more than enough entertainment venues to provide that (kids playing with eachother, toys, books, music, movies, TV, YouTube, video games, etc), there's no need for Santa or anything they're told to believe is real. They can be stimulated by characters in books and cartoons, but they usually don't believe those characters exist in real life (maybe the very small children do of their own accord).

I know some of the same points about Santa apply to religion, but I was gonna leave that subject alone for once.

And don't worry, I can have fun with it, not taking this too seriously. Just felt like a rant about Santa I guess, in the face of the onslaught of Xmas decoration cheesyness and music in the stores.

[ edited by Kris on 2009-12-04 12:09 ]
You're telling me. The music can be a bit too much sometimes. Enough to drive a man insane ("This must be what going mad feels like."). Aside from the song, "Christmas" by Darlene Love (which has a lot to do with my nostalgia for the film, Gremlins), I can't stand much of the rest of it. In terms of lights and decoration, I feel that less is more. A single box of one color used to adorn a roof, living room ceiling or a small tree is enough for me. Most other folks seem to think of it as the one time of year to justify turning their home into a tribute to Joel Schumacher's Batman films. :(

I suppose you're right about children having enough external influences to stimulate their imaginations these days. However, it reminds me of a scene from The Simpsons where Bart is unable to watch Itchy & Scratchy, so we go inside his head to watch his imagine at work. All he's able to come up with is the cat and mouse standing around in a white void. They shake their heads and shrug at him, unable to do much. He laments, "Damn Television ruined my imagination". :)

I think the difference between the idea of Santa and all those other forms of creativity is their external nature, whereas Santa is more mysterious. An internal concept a child can wonder about and discuss. Videogames, movies and TV tend to be more of a spectator's medium, but you're not wrong. For instance, my mind was blown the first time I saw Dark City.

Unfortunately, kids (and adults for that matter) don't read nearly as much as they should today, mostly due to the pre-cooked entertainment you mentioned, easily consumed and disposed of. Thankfully, we have folks like Nathan Fillion trying to change that.

Also, just for fun, my parents still sometimes give me presents labbeled "From Santa" and it makes me smile. :)

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