Santa Claus is Coming to Town

bah_humbug-e1269152112652Santa Claus is Coming to Town is even worse than Rudolph in its message to children!

Santa Claus spies on the children and records their misbehaviours. He even observes them as they sleep.   Santa sees and knows EVERYTHING, and will give or withhold gifts accordingly. YOU BETTER WATCH OUT! YOU BETTER NOT CRY! YOU BETTER NOT POUT! Repeated… you can almost see the wagging admonishing finger. (Listen to the lyrics below.)

Shouting, pouting, crying are natural behaviours when children are frightened or upset. But let’s give them an additional anxiety… an omniscient, omnipotent bogey man, allegedly benevolent but vindictive if you don’t placate him with perfect behavior, who watches you ALL THE TIME. Let’s make the children feel guilty, anxious and afraid… all in the name of pleasing Santa…  so they can merit the holiday loot!

This is emotional child abuse. It is not just a cute holiday song. Children struggle to hear and understand the lyrics so they can sing them back. The snappier the tune, the more it is included Christmas playlists!

Christmas is full of anxieties for children. The weather is cold, and it gets very dark! Grownups get cranky and busy. If there is no chimney, how will Santa get in? If there is a chimney, won’t he land in the furnace (in my early childhood a coal eating monster that had to be fed in the middle of the night). And if Santa can get in through the chimney, so can others… the Grinch, or even more criminal home invaders…  break and enter thieves.

I really don’t like the Santa myth. I feel so sorry for the parents who cannot afford to fill the wish list delivered by mail (how cute!) or at the mall (how crass!) Three alternatives: ramp up the credit card debt, let the children feel sinful and unworthy, or tell the kids the truth… there is no Santa, and this family is too poor or too sensible to play the game.

Here are two versions of the song by Justin Bieber, one an imaginative steam punk video production, the other a live performance that shows him at his gyrating, crotch-grabbing worst.  Shake it, shake it, baby! Is this what we want eight year old girls watching? That seems to be his fan base. Certainly it was not the more mature audience who booed Canada’s most successful pop star at Canada’s biggest half-time show (last month at the Grey Cup).

I do enjoy the melody…  here it is played for grownups by Gerry Mulligan and Dave Brubeck. What happened to all the smart places we could go dancing?

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
He’s making a list
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out Who’s naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town
He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!
O! You better watch out!
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
Santa Claus is coming to town

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