Is there really a war on Christmas? Rabbi Brad Hirshfield and other Washington Post readers discussed this topic Thursday. Read the chat transcript now.
Best Buy, in particular, is running a terribly callous series of commercials called “Game On, Santa,” in which obsessed female shoppers purchase the gifts that their loved ones really want at Best Buy and then wait up on Christmas Eve to accost Santa Claus in their living rooms and gloat that they’ve already beat him to the punch. In your face, you outdated fat man with your outdated presents!
“Awk-ward,” a woman mock-hisses at a baffled, sweet Santa caught standing at her tree, ready to lay out his gifts to her family. She points out that she’s already filled her children’s stockings with Best Buy junk, offering him a chance to fill her dog’s stocking instead. No one can watch this ad and feel at all good about its message, or about a society that would become so fixated on transactions that it viciously turns on Santa.
In another Best Buy ad, a woman triumphantly and loudly gulps down the glass of milk left for Santa by her children, while Santa watches with a confused and intimidated look on his face. In still another, as Santa prepares to leave a bottle of cologne by the tree, he is confronted by the lady of the house, who boasts that “Daddy don’t want no cologne” and gestures toward the flat-screen TV she’s already bought her hubby at Best Buy.
Months ago, there must have been a roomful of Best Buy mucketymucks who were presented with this atonal, needlessly mean-spirited ad campaign and were utterly delighted by the notion, laughing their heads off. I wonder if anyone in charge had second thoughts.
But why would they? Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target have encouraged the prolonging of Black Friday mania, further emphasizing the holiday’s sense of panic and deadline and savings one-upmanship. In a Wal-Mart ad, a customer (again depicted as a manners-challenged, busy-bee mom) asks a Wal-Mart electronics department clerk if he will take a look at her to-do list. “It’s all crossed out,” he observes.
“That’s ’cause I got everything on it — BOOM!” she taunts loudly, in the employee’s face, using gestures usually reserved for the basketball court or hockey rink.
For its part, Target has added a commercial to its holiday mix in which a variety of Christmas strivers all shout “DONE!” to themselves or to others, with a self-satisfied tone: Baking, DONE! Decorating, DONE! Cards, DONE! Shopping, DONE! Wrapping, DONE! One woman dances a victory jig, punching the air.