Why pop culture fixates on the incarcerated Claus.
Let me tell you something you already know: our culture longs to incapacitate Santa. At Christmastime, as the tired “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” apparatus lurches to serve up the same perverse images of twinkling, Old World pageantry, we dream of the captured Santa, the deposed king, thwarted by his own bumbling jollity into reckoning with his parochialism.
Santa represents a tradition at its breaking point. He’s the relic of a broken Eurocentric past, held over by the glad-handing rearguard in smoky backroom deals. Everywhere you look, you marvel at how brittle his grip is on power. You can feel it in the decorations, the imperious gimlet-eyed nutcrackers and gaudy wreaths, the prickly holly bushes with their poisonous berries, the wantonly felled firs, the long wasteful chains of eco-unfriendly incandescent lights. You can smell it on nog-breathed mall Santas, their faces glistening with sweat, their hours punishingly long, the ink still wet on their International University of Santa Claus diplomas. Santa is ripe for abduction—Santa wants to be abducted. This is why pop culture is teeming with images in which he’s out of commission. Read More