Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Is Pop Culture Christmas Real Christmas?

Given that our pop culture driven TV and movie viewing had virtually ruled our lives for the past 60 years or so, is pop culture influenced Christmas still pass muster as real Christmas?

By: Ringo Bones

Maybe Family Guy’s Kiss Saves Santa might be too much for some people who still believe that a true-blue traditional Christmas involves celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and a Santa Claus that accepts Jesus as his Lord and Savior. But pop culture had also had given us something new that revolutionized everyone’s perception of Christmas – like the Yuletide staple titled It’s a Wonderful Life and the updated versions of Charles Dickens’ Yuletide morality tale called A Christmas Carol. And given pop culture’s ongoing influence on how we celebrate Christmas, it might only be a matter of time that traditional true-blue Christmas could become indistinguishable from its kitschy over-commercialized secular humanist equivalent.

When it comes to “redefining” our idea of what is Christmas, nothing compares to the quirky pop culture world of science fiction. Maybe after seeing the Starship Voyager being transformed into a Christmas Tree decoration by that omnipotent extraterrestrial being named Q, one would wonder if humanity still celebrates some semblance of a traditional Christmas in the 24th Century - or do we still need Klingon Santa Claus to register for next year's World Santa Claus Congress. Or what about that straight-to-video sci-fi Yuletide cult classic called Star Wars Christmas Special? Nothing turns traditional Christmas on its head like Chewbacca on a one-horse open sleigh, right?

In actuality, the official title of the Star Wars Christmas Special is “Star Wars Holiday Special”. It is a story about Life Day – a Christmas analog that is traditionally celebrated in Chewbacca’s home planet in George Lucas’ Star Wars universe. At least those who will can safely hope that a variant of the true-blue traditional Christmas is - or was – celebrated long ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Probably the weirdest manifestation of a pop culture influenced quasi-Christmas holiday is the celebration of Festivus. Festivus is the supposedly non-denominational holiday invented by George Costanza’s father, Frank Costanza (played by actor Jerry Stiller) that has since celebrated every 23rd of December by Seinfeld fans. Festivus centers around a ritual object called the Festivus Pole and the “feats of strength” with the holiday slogan “Festivus for the rest of us!”

In terms of weirdness and the degree of being far removed from the celebration of traditional Christmas, Festivus and the Star Wars Christmas Special are probably the two that takes the cake. Festivus could be seen as a critique of the runaway commercialization of Christmas celebration – a statement of protest in holiday form. While the Star Wars Christmas Special or the Star Wars Holiday Special could be seen by the uninitiated as a “pitiful” attempt to meld Christmas with Halloween. At least in a secularly commercialized Christmas – there is still importance placed upon gift-giving.