Dystopia, Acid Trips and “Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town”

Written by Guest December 21, 2011

The Force is one of those things that makes “Star Wars” amazing. Jedi powers are something that everyone wants. George Lucas misread this interpretation (and many others) and thought that this meant that “Star Wars” fans wanted to get a scientific explanation of the force.  In “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” Qui-Gon Jinn deconstructs the concept of the Force from being something mystical, mysterious and awesome to something boring and lame. I always thought this was a worse criminal offence than Jar Jar Binks.

Santa Claus, like the Force, is amazing to children because the legend surrounding him is so mysteriously wonderful and different cultures can apply their own twists to it. However, this probably led to too many children asking their parents questions like “why does Santa wear red?”, “why stockings?”, or “why does he laugh the way he does?” My mother’s response to pestering questions like this was “it just is”, a similar approach that I will take with my kids if they ever ask me questions about Santa Claus or Jedi mind tricks. Rankin/Bass followed up their “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” holiday special (which I also reviewed on this site) with an encyclopaedia of answers to the unanswerable questions of the Santa Claus legend. They did this so effectively that for the duration of my belief in Santa Claus I saw this TV special as scripture. In typical Rankin/Bass fashion, “Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town” features more acid trips, pedophilia and Christmas fun but less pod racing than Star Wars.

“Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town” was first broadcasted on December 14th, 1970 on ABC, the home of future mindfuck television such as “Lost” and “Twin Peaks”. It is based on the popular Christmas song. Like “Rudolph”, the original version has been modified over the years to appeal to political correctness and not disturb children as much.  Fred Astaire voices the mailman narrator and Mickey Rooney voices Kris Kringle.

“Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town” begins with a realistic newsreel of kids gearing up for the arrival of Santa Claus on Christmas day. It reads more like World War II propaganda videos than an actual intro to a holiday classic. It then cuts to a winter wonderland where the mailman is delivering letters to Santa Claus. After a dance routine that highlights all the musical numbers of the special, the mailman begins telling the story of Santa Claus.

The origin story of Santa Claus is similar to “Batman Begins” except you don’t get to see what happens to the parents. A ginger baby is dropped off on the doorstep of the mayor of Sombertown’s doorstep. Sombertown looks like it is in the middle of Germany during The Great War judging by the guards attire and the gloomy atmosphere. The mayor Burgermeister Meisterburger is a despicable tyrant with the best name ever in fiction. Not wanting to deal with a baby he sends his top lawmaker to deliver the baby to the orphan asylum (a term that needs a comeback in contemporary society). The baby gets lost in a snowstorm and eventually lands on the steps of the Kringles, a family of Santa Claus look-alikes. They ignore the tag saying “Claus” around his neck and name him “Kris Kringle” instead.

The Kringles show a lack of understanding of the business concept of supply and demand. They build toys but they have no one to give them to. Between them and Sombertown is a mountain region haunted by the Winter Warlock. Kris eventually reaches adulthood with the help of the animals and Kringles raising him. To prove his manliness, he decides to bring some toys to the children of Sombertown.  On his way he meets a penguin that he names Topper, because anything goes in these Christmas specials.  Unbeknownst to Kris, Burgermeister Meisterburger has enacted a law banning toys with punishment of time spent in the town dungeon. This radical justice is similar to how the CEOs of record labels treat downloading.

Kris Kringle gives the toys to the children despite the warnings of Miss Jessica, the ginger teacher. The colour of her hair contrasts the bleakness of the town, meaning that she is a good person, like Kris! They of course fall in love in due time. Kris then begins to have either a dream/erotic fantasy of children playing on his lap. I’m not just grasping at straws here; ABC saw this musical number as being very, very, very creepy and began to remove it from reruns of the special. I’ve looked hard online trying to find a video or audio of this song but ABC has shut down every possible link. I “toyed” with the idea of uploading it myself but I don’t want to be like Kiefer Sutherland and spend Christmas in jail. I was able to find the lyrics, so if you never see me on We Eat Films ever again, please remember my sacrifice.

Oh, what a good girl

Oh, what a good boy

Oh what a big smile

All because of a toy!

 

If you sit on my lap today

A kiss a toy is the price you’ll pay

When you tell what you wish for —

In a whisper

Be prepared to pay.

 

If you sit on my lap today

A kiss a toy is the price you’ll pay

When you sit on my left knee

Don’t be stingy

Be prepared to pay.

 

If whenever you take

You give a little back

Then whoever you love

Will give a little love back

So give a little love

Get a little love back

Don’t you have a little love

That you want to get back

 

If you sit on his lap today

A kiss a toy is the price you’ll pay

When you sit on his left knee

Don’t be stingy

Be prepared to pay.

 

Now if you sit on my lap today

A kiss a toy is the price you’ll pay!

 

Creepy, eh? Roman Polanski probably sings this song in his sleep. The Burgermeister Meisterburger sees children playing with toys and orders his men to arrest Kris and his penguin as he is a danger to his ideal dystopian society. Kris skips town and gets captured by the Winter Warlock, who Kris teaches how to walk and be a decent person in my favourite musical number of the special

The Winter Warlock, known just as Winter now, gives Kris a magic snowball that allows him to see anyone he wants to judge them if they are bad or good. He sees Jessica wandering the forest. She delivers him letters from children requesting toys from him. This starts Kris’s night time smuggling of toys through chimneys to fill the kids’ stockings with toys. He continues to do this until The Burgermeister Meisterburger captures Kris in a sting operation. He then burns all the toys in town, in an act similar to book burnings throughout history suppressing revolutionary ideology. Jessica laments this through an acid trip (of a song).

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Winter gives Kris magic corn that allows reindeer to fly (paving the way to reindeer games and bullying) allowing him to escape. The rest of the special books it. Kris grows his beard, changes his name to Claus to avoid persecution by The Burgermeister Meisterburger, marries Jessica, gets fat and decides to only deliver toys once a year. The Meisterburger dynasty dies off over time, giving the people peace and granting Kris his freedom.

The postman shows a montage of people hating on Christmas. Ebenezer Scrooge, retail workers, and cynics are shown to be the only ones to dislike Santa Claus. The postman calls these people misguided and acknowledges that there is unhappiness in the world. However, he and myself, both see Christmas as a time for people to set aside the problems of the world for one day and celebrate joy and life. He believes that if we were all to be like Santa Claus and took his morals to heart, there would be peace on Earth.  Now that is a Christmas lesson I can agree with and apply to my everyday life.

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