6 Dumb Myths The Media Spreads Every Holiday Season
The holiday season brings us timeless staples like eggnog, TV specials, and office parties where someone gets so drunk that they torpedo their career and have to change towns after the New Year. But there's no holiday tradition more universal than bullshit news shared by worried grandmas and angry moralists. So the next time someone tries to make you feel scared or guilty during the holidays, keep in mind that the following are all fake.
"Terrorists Are Going To Attack On Black Friday!"
Black Friday is the intensely commercial free-for-all during which we reward ourselves for not punching any of our relatives in the throat during Thanksgiving by getting a new TV. But be careful, because in addition to dodging competitive shoppers willing to sacrifice your body to earn 15 percent off a blender, you might get attacked by freaking terrorists.
Worth it for the doorbusters.
That 2014 headline is from National Report, and at first sight, it makes all sort of sense. Black Friday is a high-profile day featuring big crowds. Why wouldn't terrorists who clearly hate our freedom target shoppers trying to buy eight different microwaves for the low, low price of five? But retweeters beware -- the official-sounding National Report is in truth a "satire" website. It's like The Onion, but instead of having witty insights into human failure, they make up vaguely credible-sounding shit so that people will clog social media with their links.
However, much like how bad holiday specials fail to teach you how to be a better person, people failed to learn a lesson from this hoax, and in 2015, multiple Facebook posts warning about a terror attack went viral. Some mentioned a specific location and pointed fingers at the topical ISIS, while others had more of a general "Head's up, foreigners could murder you at any moment if you go outside!" vibe. Because what says Thanksgiving better than spreading fear about other races and religions?
ISIS Soldier: "Shouldn't we focus on military targets?"
ISIS Commander: "Nonsense! That random T.G.I. Fridays is going down TONIGHT!"
Seeing as how Black Friday isn't currently considered a national day of mourning, all of these "reliable sources" and "credible threats" turned out to be a load of bullshit. Who would have thought that supposed plots by terrorists to dress up as passionate shoppers and beat up true patriotic bargain-searchers could have been fake?
Unless you see warnings from a legitimate publication and not superlegitnews.com, you can shop on Black Friday with the confidence that you're no more likely to experience a terrorist attack than on any other day of the year. So all you have to be concerned about is credit card debt and the Universe striking you down with a heart attack for wrestling a 10-year-old for the last discounted PS4.
Related: Happy Birthday, Badass - August 6
"Starbucks Is Offending Christians!"
The foul Greek-god-worshiping heathens of Starbucks have been a thorn in good Christians' sides for a long time now. Not only do they print graven images of false idols right on their cups, but recently, they've also become active combatants in the war on Christmas! Now, we're not going to tell you that hordes of angry Christians need to get over how Starbucks won't acknowledge Christmas on their coffee cups -- we're going to tell you that those hordes of angry Christians don't exist. Although it sure seems like they do, based on these 2015 headlines:
"AND UP NEXT ON BREITBART: ETERNAL APOPLECTIC RAGE!"
Sources on Starbucks being a corporate Grinch look solid as stone, too. Some articles reference a video with 17 million views featuring a gun-packing, Jesus-shirt-wearing, Fred-Durst-beard-and-backwards-ball-cap-rocking man ranting about treating people with respect run amok and saying he gave his name to the Starbucks barista as "Merry Christmas" so those heathens would be forced to say it. Looks like you're the ones who got served, Starbucks!
But The Daily Dot decided to investigate this great crusade of our age. By using arcane techniques like "statistics" and "thinking," they discovered that in truth, no one really gives a shit about this topic. The vast majority of social media comments were from people mocking the controversy, while no evidence of genuine offense could be found, barring one man screaming into his phone while promoting his social media brand. People weren't angry about the cups as much as they were angry about the idea that people were angry about them. So despite another year of attention-grabbing headlines ...
Looks like The Daily Dot forgot their own article from last year.
... remember that it's a manufactured controversy limited to a handful of crazy people and then many, many thousands of drones reveling in (ironic) outrage. It turns out that the average Christian's faith is strong enough that their pillars don't crumble when a barista doesn't explicitly acknowledge their beliefs. In fact, we should thank Starbucks for giving us something that unites all faiths: being offended by the fact that Starbucks is pretentious and serves shitty overpriced coffee.
But since we're on the topic of the war on Christmas ...
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"There's A War On Christmas!"
It's tough being Christian in America, where a mere 70 percent of people share your beliefs. Those danged powerful minorities keep trying to take the Christ out of Christmas, probably to replace him with some abortion pamphlets, and every year, there seem to be more stories confirming this dreaded fear. Why, in 2015, students at George Mason University wanted to ban "White Christmas" from the radio because, get this nonsense, they think it's racist!
Breaking: All students are liberals, apparently.
While it's true that a staggering 18 of the school's nearly 34,000 students signed a petition to ban the song, the petition was started by a reporter for a conservative site who was trying to make a point / angrily rant about how students are oversensitive sissies. Then he yelled at students until they agreed to sign, which proves the Greenpeace Theory that people will sign anything if it means you'll stop harassing them. Also, it was the holiday season on a college campus, so they all had dissertations or kegs to get back to.
But "0.05 percent of a sample group gets badgered into falling for a hoax" doesn't get right-wing blood boiling as much as "Liberals demand a Christmas carol be banned!" Hyperbole appears to to be all that's keeping the "War on Christmas" war machine fueled. If you're part of a certain kind of family, you might have seen a post like this make the social media rounds in 2013:
"Also, please, no one look up easily findable pictures of Obama sitting in church."
Similar posts showed up in 2009 and 2011, and in 2016, Eric Trump had this to say:
My (of course the only true) God, what more proof do you need that Obama is a heathen Christmas hater? Actual proof, probably, as these lies can be quickly debunked by glancing at the White House's own website, which shows that they still call it a Christmas tree. Also, it's literally brought to the building in a cart that says "Christmas Tree."
"Yeah, go shove it in the chipper 'round back. We'll use the pulp to print Qurans."
OK, but otherwise the government wouldn't dare say "Merry Christmas," right? Instead, it's nothing but a weak "Happy Holidays" so those vegan leftist feminists celebrating Kwanzaa won't get all uppity about inclusion. Would these image macros lie?
Best not to take advice from a grown man who eats gum off New York City sidewalks.
Well, Pew found that 42 percent of Americans prefer "Merry Christmas," 12 percent prefer "less religious terms," and 46 percent don't give a shit, because they're in a rush to get home and already blew past the cashier before she could mouth her greetings. The numbers were almost identical in 2005 and 2013, so if the godless liberals are trying to make "Merry Christmas" a hateful, forbidden term, they're not doing a very good job of it.
It's not just America that suffers through this phony war. The UK's Daily Mail, a rising stack of bird cage liner that singlehandedly ruined Britain's reputation for class, accused the small town of Luton of replacing their Christmas festivities with a celebration of Harry Potter called Luminos in the name of treating people with respect.
Well, leaders from the correct religion.
Putting aside the fact that the Harry Potter books all took time to celebrate Christmas and made adding magic to it sound rad, Luton held Luminos before their Christmas celebrations instead of as a replacement. Also, they only did it once, and it happened three years before the media turned it into a story of treating people with respect run amok. Nonsense stories like these go all the way back to 1959, when there was a claim that the UN was trying to take the Christ out of Christmas to help the Godless Commies stick it to America. Since we're not all eating borscht to celebrate State Atheism Day, we think it's safe to assume that the plan was a nonstarter.
The closest there's ever been to a true War on Christmas came in 1659, when Puritans -- you know, those Christians responsible for making America a "Christian Country" -- banned the celebration in one colony for not respecting the Bible. Luckily, the people fought against these god-fearing American Christians, and the ban was lifted by 1681. The War on Christmas is over. Christmas won.
Then again, for a lot of the same people, refusing to admit that a war is over is kind of their thing.
"People Are Giving Out Pot Candy On Halloween!"
With every Halloween comes the fear that some ghoul has tampered with kids' otherwise perfectly healthy candy. For decades, the rumor circulated that people were handing out poisoned candy, despite a grand total of zero concrete examples. Then came pins and needles hidden in candy, which had a bit of truth to it in the form of 10 scattered cases of minor injuries. But now the worry is that people are trying to do something even worse than hurting or killing children -- they're trying to get them high. On drugs.
"Here's how you can identify and then totally steal them from your kids."
That USA Today headline came from Oregon, which recently celebrated its first Halloween with legal pot. Now that recreational marijuana-infused candy is legal in some states, some people are worried that stoners will slip some chocolate-covered pot into kids' bags, possibly because they accidentally ate all the tiny candy bars they originally meant to give out. This current wave of paranoia first emerged when similar warnings came out of Colorado, which, after their first Halloween with legal pot in 2014, witnessed a whole zero cases of children being slipped an adult treat. It's almost as if the average legal pot user would rather enjoy it themselves rather than hand it over to some lightweights.
There might also be a bit of a political agenda behind this new Halloween terror wave. Scaremongering from Florida this year was telling when a sheriff warned parents to watch out for marijuana candy that could emerge from an amendment to make medical marijuana legal, despite the fact that the state voted on that after Halloween. The sheriff also took the opportunity to rant against the amendment, because nothing makes a compelling argument like citing a fear of something that's never been documented to have happened in all 25 states with legal medical weed.
"Trick or treat, smell my feet, whoa, have you ever really looked at your feet?"
The closest any kid has ever come to taking a trip on Halloween was when an Illinois sheriff's department mistook a Japanese candy with maple leaves on its packaging for pot candy advertising with cannabis leaves and incited a false alarm. Despite stereotypes, marijuana users are either responsible enough to not drug children for kicks or at least lazy enough to not bother putting the plan into action. Our chocolate coins are on the latter being true.
Related: Happy Birthday, Badass - August 3
"Christmas Decorations Are Coming Earlier And Earlier!"
Can you believe that it's only whatever date you're reading this, and Christmas displays are already dominating every store? You can't even go buy a six-pack on November 1st at 8:00 a.m. without the cashier trying to upsell you on a bottle of candy cane vodka! Whatever happened to the good old days, when Christmas decorations weren't trotted out until December and we took time in November to celebrate Thanksgiving and not really give a fuck about Veterans Day?
Well, those days did exist, but they were a lot longer ago than you thought. Christmas in November is not a new phenomenon in the slightest. Here's a 1992 Baltimore Sun article about how Nordstrom's insistence on waiting until after Thanksgiving to put up their decorations (while still putting Christmas stuff in their mail-order catalogs) made them weird outliers. And here's a toy store ad from the supposed halcyon days of 1989:
"See, that's just a cynical commerc- oooooh, the Game Boy comes WITH Tetris?!"
Christmas hasn't slowly worked its way into November and October; it crashed there decades ago and refuses to even look for a job. And there's a reason it's stuck around so long: It works. It works for retailers, because an early start means that they can calmly roll out their displays instead of having to frantically spend all day and night after Thanksgiving slapping something together. It works for consumers because they want to buy stuff cheap and early. 40 percent of people start their Christmas shopping before Halloween. Home Depot's website starts advertising Christmas lights in mid-July (because those viral videos of extravagant displays set to Queen don't make themselves). It's simple economics. If people weren't buying Christmas merchandise in October, stores would stop offering it. That's also why you don't see a big push of Columbus Day merch in June. You might personally hate Christmas in October, but some of your friends who nod along to your complaints will then hop in their cars and blast carols while racing to pick up giant novelty nutcrackers.
"Let's All Freak The Fuck Out About Pumpkin Spice!"
Starbucks introduced their pumpkin spice latte in 2003, presumably in a cup that everyone thought angered Christians because it had a sexy sea witch on it, and ever since, it's become the novelty flavor to anger people who are incapable of opining on more interesting subjects.
"YOU'RE NEXT, KALE!"
It's gotten so popular that we've now reached the "panic about the health implications" stage of the fad.
"Could adding pumpkin flavor to pie, cookies, liquor, and sugary drinks be unhealthy? Scroll past our ads to find out!"
Obviously, pumpkin spice is in such high demand that we're even adding it to freaking condoms.
"Here are eight positions involving a pumpkin no normal human could contort into to try!"
It has reached the point where the goddamn Washington Post felt the need to weigh in on one of the great issues of our epoch.
To be fair, this issue is post-partisan.
How do you get embarrassed over a fucking flavor? Do you glance sideways and hope that no one saw you grab a sweet-and-sour packet for your chicken nuggets? Who cares what other people like to eat? And if you want to moan about some weird pumpkin obsession, have a go at complaining about pumpkin carving -- a $650 million industry wherein Americans buy a pumpkin, half-assedly carve a kitty-cat face into it, then let the perfectly good food rot before throwing it out. That sounds embarrassing.
And know this: If you hate this overpriced metropolitan coffee sludge, that means you hate America. The truth is that, like the jack-o'-lantern, the pumpkin flavor craze is helping rejuvenate small family farms that grow pumpkins. Pumpkin-based foods go all the way back to colonial times. "Pumpkin" is even fun to say. It's a food, not a war that needs frontline reporters. Let's all accept the existence of pumpkins in the world and move onto more important matters, like stopping the elitist media from taking the trees out of Arbor Day.
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