Christmas was once a religious affair, marking both the passing of the ancient black heart of the winter and the birth of a new message of universal kindness and compassion. It slowly evolved, in this country at least, into a celebration of both the original spiritual mystery and of bringing joy to those around you by giving them things you know will make them happy, with a little bit left over for the Santa at the mall’s Salvation Army pot.
Now the gift-giving has grown so grotesquely important that it totally outweighs and violates the millennial magic of the event that triggered it all: it’s de-mystified, denatured, and de-humanized, a super-neo-potlatch of stuff for stuff’s sake.
As regular readers of my column know, I keep a close eye on trivial-seeming pop phenomena and media ephemera to decode the future of our nation and the Earth: are we traveling toward a New Jerusalem or back to Babylon?
This holiday season’s TV advertisements aren’t encouraging.
The planet’s diamond-floggers, who have engineered wars that cost millions of African lives to protect their supplies and continue to mesmerize the wealthy of the world into thinking that chips, scraps and nodules of compressed carbon are virtually priceless, are all over the screen with some of the worst most vulgar and shameless ad campaigns in history. “He went to Schmendrick’s!” children, future fiancées and female sidekicks say in awestruck tones, as if a $499 bauble from
Schmendrick’s had just transformed Burt Smith into Burt Lancaster.
Believe that and you might even vote for Romney-Huckabee in 2012: “They’re Right, They’re Outta Sight, and Most Of All, They’re White!”
Other jewelry ads appeal to the idea that diamonds are an instant aphrodisiac, the Depression-era German saying “Geld macht sinnlich,” or “Money = Sex Appeal,” made flesh. “’Tis the season to get….”
Oh, never mind. A guy hands his dinner date a tiny box across the table at Le Cuisine Unaffordable, she opens it and sees a crappy little gold watch studded with junk diamonds, and voilà, she’s gazing at the dude with a Triple X-rated Stare that says, “I’m so horny I’m going to jump your bones between dessert and coffee, right
here on the floor!”
I’m sorry, but yuck! And also yikes! Earth to Dude: If a six-figure timepiece has that effect on your betty, you’d better think twice before you marry her: Three weeks after the honeymoon’s over you’ll find her at the watch and jewelry counter at Wallyworld or the local pawnshop, bartering her bod for “Looks Like Solid Gold But It’s Really Goldplate,” “Shine Like A Millionaire for Less Than $50” “gold” chains and counterfeit TAG-Heuers.
For the past several years advertisers have been upping the ante for Christmas gifts: now you’re a piker if you don’t buy or lease a new luxury car for your mate, or at least a diamond as big as the Ritz that’ll sear the eyeballs of that snobbish Trophywife-McBotox across the street.
The overall spirit is thinly veiled meanness, selfishness, malice and malignity, every man for himself and God against all, or vice versa.
Those clever little chappies on Madison Ave. have even managed to sneak homophobia and racism onto the tube this holiday season. How about that rib-
splitting spot where Lou Holtz calls customer service and gets a simperingly effeminate weirdo with a foreign accent (A furriner? Even funnier!) on the other end? Hey, let’s call the ICE hotline, and when the pervert’s been rendered back to Lower Slobbovia, blast his village with a few Smart Bombs and a Cruise missile or two: Happy New Year, ya creep!
Even worse, if you can believe that’s possible, is the ad with the black football player asking the team doc about his injured knee, only the doc’s so busy playing fantasy football on his cell phone he won’t even LOOK at the poor doofus!
Have you ever seen anything funnier, I ask you? And then the punch line: The lame (literally lame, it turns out) player gets more and more frantic, babbling about his injury, and I guess that cheeses the doc off because it’s screwing up his cell-phone fun, because he says to the guy, real casual-like, so we can tell that he doesn’t really give even one-tenth of a damn, “Your knee is totally shattered.”
“Shattered!” Man, that’s sheer brilliance; now you see why these ad guys get paid top dollar.
But wait, there’s more.
Then the doc – I know he’s fictional and all, but he’s so cool, they oughta give this actor his own comedy series – tells the football player that his career’s over, so he’s dropping him from his fantasy football team!
Ha ha ha ha ha ha. LMAO! LMAO! Merry Christmas, Barack or whatever your name is; now, geddoutahere, and take your sorry excuse for a leg with you.