The 4 Christmas Articles You'll See On The Internet
As I've mentioned before, it's a drag being on (and writing for) the Internet around Christmastime. Most people are too busy spending time with their families (gross!) to bother with updating their own websites, and the articles you do find are the same, tired Christmas-themed articles you see every single year. News stops, the Internet stops. The whole net just becomes a massive collection of Christmas articles.
Well, let me help you out. This year, instead of going all over the Internet and reading everything you come across, I'll save us all some time and just tell you the kind of Christmas articles you're going to see. This year and every year. Articles like ...
"Stop Making Christmas Illegal!"
"Look, all I'm saying is, you can't walk down the street with a smile on your face because your Christmas Spirit might offend some of the left-wing Holinazis. It's political correctness run amuck, that's all I'm sayin'."
I think one year, in one town, in one store -- years ago -- employees were instructed to say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." And we, as a nation, have been paying for it ever since.
This is what Photos.com thinks "War on Christmas" is, and I have no reason to argue.
It's why every year, without fail, you'll see a dozen "War on Christmas" articles show up starting in early December. Writers complaining that everyone's gotten so politically correct that they're afraid to hang Christmas lights. Pundits feeling like they're being persecuted for buying Christmas trees (In Jesus Christ's America, dammit!). Desperate politicians wondering "why our children can't Christmas schools, but meanwhile gay people!"
"Jesus, Santa Claus, America: Gooood. Muslims, Tattoos, Homosexuals: Scaaary."
Fox News has an entire page of their website devoted to the War on Christmas. One of their headlines says "School Bans Santa Over Religious Concerns!" If you click and read Fox's mini summation of the article, you get a story about how, since 1960, firefighters would dress up as Santa and hang out with children, until this year, when it was banned. Which, yes, is ridiculous. It's so ridiculous, in fact, that I clicked even further to read more of the story and found out that the ban has since been rescinded, and that the firefighters are free to dress as Santa and give presents to children all they want. But the headline is still "Santa Claus Banned From Schools" and the title of the page on which it appears is War on Christmas! Because a Massachusetts superintendent hastily making a stupid move is clearly an act of religious war.
You know what I've never heard? Anyone, in my life, attack someone else for saying the words "Merry Christmas." Not once. I've never seen someone ask someone else to take down a Christmas decoration for being offensive, even if some houses look objectively terrible. And I have never seen or heard someone say, "Excuse me, I know your son is 9, but he is not allowed to celebrate, be happy about or be aware of Christmas as long as he is in a public school. That is why I gave him detention when he wore a Christmas sweater."
But do you know what I do hear and read? Hundreds of "War on Christmas" articles and videos from writers and pundits who feel like they're the most put-upon class of people in human history simply because they want the freedom to celebrate Christmas. A freedom that I have never seen anyone try to actively suppress. I don't even understand someone who can live in the same world as I do, where radio stations play round-the-clock Christmas music, TV networks count down the 12 days of Christmas in the form of Christmas movies, houses are decorated and sales and Christmas promotions start as far back as October, and then say "This War on Christmas is UNACCEPTABLE, it's like living in Communist China, for Christ's sake!" I don't know if it's ignorance or just some elaborate prank. I saw Christmas promotions at a JC Penny before Halloween even happened this year!
These people are just feeling persecuted and hurt, I guess. Because life is always hardest on white, upper-class Christians, especially at Christmas time.
"Stop Putting Christmas EVERYWHERE!"
"I don't know if it's ignorance or just some elaborate prank. I saw Christmas promotions at a JC Penny before Halloween even happened this year! Waahh, I'm a baby."
Ugh. Boooo. The writers who publish those "Why can't I celebrate Christmas if I want to?" articles and the writers who publish these "Why must I be bombarded by Christmas EVERY SINGLE DAY?" articles should just get it over with and fuck already.
I get that America makes way too big a deal out of Christmas. And I get that it's totally unreasonable that we start preparing for it earlier and earlier every single year. But the thing is, everybody gets that. There's no reason to write articles or go on the news and ask "Are we celebrating Christmas too soon?" Everyone who lives and exists in the world has that exact same observation. That's like a standup comedian whose entire set is "You know who's different from men? Women, am I right? That guy knows what I'm talking about. That woman, too. Anyway, that's my time, you've all been great."
"And can we talk about the DMV for a second? I don't care for the lines, but I guess they provide a good service. You've been terrific!"
If the observation you're making is the same one that your fellow students make, or the same one that your coworkers make around the office, there is absolutely no reason to publish an article on the subject as if you were the only one who noticed.
"Best Christmas Movies Ever!"
"It's that time of year again! Time to tell you 17 Christmas movies that you already know because you've already seen them and you've already read this list, every year for the last 10 years, on this and every other pop culture website! No. 17: Frosty, you guys!"
Let me save everyone some time. There are only three Christmas movies that matter: A Christmas Story, Scrooged and Die Hard, (four if you count Bloodsport). That's it. Oh, sure, there are plenty of other decent Christmas movies, but those are the only important ones (A Christmas Story is your "classic," it satisfies love of nostalgia and Christmases past; Scrooged marries real warmth and balls-out comedy; and Die Hard has everything else).
But that's just my personal tiny gripe on the subject. My real problem with these articles isn't that they should all only be three entries long. The thing is, a typical "Best Christmas Movies Ever!" list is always going to just look like a list of 10 or so Christmas classics that everybody already knows and loves (It's a Wonderful Life, Rudolf, Grinch, A Christmas Story, Muppet Christmas, etc). No one will ever read a list of great Christmas movies and be surprised, because everyone sees all of those movies growing up (because every network plays all of them for an entire month leading up to Christmas). No one's ever surprised; people just read those lists and say, "Oh, yes, good, I am aware of and a fan of that movie, yes." Here's the real problem: That list will never change, because we don't know how to make great Christmas movies anymore. Maybe we've grown too cynical as a nation, or maybe there was just a finite amount of great Christmas movies and we already made them. Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that we're out. We'll never make another Christmas Story, there will never be another Bill Murray and the latest Die Hard took place during the summer. There won't be any new Christmas classics, so every "Best Christmas Movies Ever" list will look the same every year, and 20 different websites will publish that list. How many times do you really need to read "Scrooged was a good movie and took place during Christmas?"
"You've always heard that Christmas is this one way, but did you know that it was ACTUALLY this OTHER way? Here are six things about that previous sentence."
Like I mentioned last month in my article about the worst times to be on the Internet, it's important for websites to be topical and tap into whatever it is the public is generally searching for. It's why every single site will be talking about politics come next election cycle, and why you'll see 100 different soccer articles even from non-sports sites during the next World Cup (whenever the hell that is). Everyone wants to prove they have their fingers wrapped around the pulse of society.
But if you're not really a formal news site -- meaning you can't just report on the holiday or simply publish Christmas-related human interest stories -- you have to get creative (which usually means wacky). We at Cracked are lucky; we've still got Christmas-related content that's new and genuinely interesting and funny, but we've been around for a few years, and every year we publish three to six Christmas and holiday articles. If we keep that up, eventually we're going to run out and fall victim to the Christmas Journalism Curse, and we'll just be publishing desperate, hastily-put-together Christmas garbage. "8 Things You Heard About Christmas Trees (That Are Bullshit)." "6 Shocking Reasons the Baby Jesus is Like a Power Ranger." "11 Christmas Presents That Are Actually Poop." The Ghost of Crackedmas Future visited me last night and showed me all of those articles.
Give it some time, and I promise you that the well of thoughtful, original Christmas content will run bone dry, and we'll be forced to publish weirder, weaker, vaguely-Christmas-related rants.
Like this one! Merry Christmas everybody!
Daniel O'Brien is Cracked.com's Senior Writer (ladies), and he had to ignore how much he enjoys Love Actually for the sake of #2 on this list (Hugh Grant).
For more of Dan's Christmastime content, check out Letters From Santa and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas 2: Christmasturbation.