Political Kayfabe: St. Nick Edition.

Link to a bloggingheads video on Santa Claus

PEG: Santa is a lie with no upside. Ban Santa
AG: Santa is a lie with no downside. Leave him alone.

SW: Santa is early childhood prep for the inevitable panopticon that will harry and vex citizens their entire lives. Get used to the surveillance state today to save yourself severe discomfort tomorrow. Conform.

Of all the secular Christmas songs in regular rotations, one stands head and shoulders above all others for its celebration of submission to the popular will. John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie first released “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” on Eddie Cantor’s radio show in November of 1934, which you should recall was in FDR’s first term. NIRA, along with all of its price controls and suchlike came complete with propaganda like this hot on its heels:

Consider the possibility that “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and its themes of supernatural surveillance might have been part of the NIRA & al propaganda push. This version of an all-powerful, omniscient Santa is merely an artifact of a greater socialization movement. Monitor your own behavior, conform, obey, and enjoy the rewards (bestowed by benevolent government).

The modern Santa Claus is a sandbox metaphor for progressive era political kayfabe: a great shared lie in which a supernatural elite sprinkles magically-created wealth o’er the land. The fault isn’t in the story; it’s in folks’ unwillingness to take the greater lesson to heart. Both Gobry and Gurri, each brilliant in their own right, failed to acknowledge the obvious and elementary parable that modern Santa represents. Why?

I think Gobry got snagged on the edge of it when he made the nude emperor allegory. Santa is far too crass, too obvious, too ubiquitous to be a good candidate for hermeneutics. Right? Well, that’s why it’s so vital we preserve the myth.

In the future, parents will turn to their disillusioned children and say “remember when you found out that Santa Claus was a lie? Hold on to that feeling, because politicians will do that to every four years or so.”

Santa is the perfect parable for electoral politics. Why would you want to either discard that or reduce it to mere frippery and fun around the garland-decked evergreen?


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