Superstar Santa

Posted on December 25, 2006

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In the world of pop-culture, cranky old people, politely referred to as senior citizens, generally occupy the bottom rung of the trendsetter ladder. It is common for senior citizens to hold safe and mundane posts, such as professors or senators, but it is extremely rare to find them clinging to the top spot of superstar status. In a society fixated with youthful exuberance, the wrinkly skin and limited movements of senior citizens, hardened by age and time, remind us of the impending and bleak future that awaits all of us. Amidst this ageist atmosphere comes an unashamedly flamboyant old fella, who either through an innocent case of misfortune or simply the result of a cruel joke, has inherited some of the most unwanted features of contemporary society. Here is a man whose humongous belly points to a morbidly obese lifestyle, maintains unkempt and greying facial hair, and who has chosen to rebel against good taste and fashion sense by donning the same red and white costume for the greater part of last century.

If a random person on the street tells you he can fly on a metal carriage drawn by reindeers, you would dismiss him as a junkie high on crack. If that same man discreetly enters your home through the chimney at midnight and finishes all the cookies and milk, he’d be arrested for breaking and entering, possibly with the intention of robbery. And if he showers children with presents and asks poor little Tom if he’s been a very naughty boy, he might even be suspected of pedophilia. But somehow, this jolly old man, despite his apparent social misdemeanour and unattractive physical attributes, has managed to occupy a special place in the hearts of millions of children and adults alike.

Many Christians lament the fact that, in our consumerist society, Santa Claus has eclipsed Jesus Christ as the main thrust of Christmas. It is true that for each film chronicling the birth of Jesus there are 7 others that stars Santa (OK, we made up that ratio, but you get the general idea). The larger-than-life image of Santa completely dominates shopping malls and television, and in the market-driven economy, Christmas can sometimes feel like an all-out shopping frenzy rather than a religious observance. But for the old, the fat and the unkempt, and maybe even the occasionally loony, Santa Claus has helped shift the obsession of being thin, young and beautiful, to a much broader and accepting outlook on human attributes. He has managed to bridge the generational gap between young and old and proved that cranky old men can still enjoy life and Parrtay!. Santa Claus has lent to the greying generation a spark of charm and fun that no other mature-age pop icon, be it Amitabh Bachan, Sophia Loren or the Elvis-loving sex symbol that is former Japanese premier Junichiro Koizumi, have managed to deliver.

Posted in: Society