Of all the programming on Geek and Sundry's new YouTube channel, "Written by a Kid" was the one I was looking forward to the most, but, in the end, it's the one that made me squirm the most while watching it.
After a few episodes (of really trying hard to like it), I came to the conclusion that while I really like chatting with children myself, I really dislike
watching children being interviewed as entertainment, which is the outlining format of "Written by a Kid."
Their latest episode supports my hypothesis: There's no interview here -- just a kid singing a song he's made up (or is making up, as he sings it), without any goofy adult prompting ("Oh, really? You sure about that?" *snicker*): Micah's Holiday Song
And while it doesn't quite hold together as music
, I think it's one of the best "Holiday Stories" of this genre I've encountered in a while.
I loved the nuanced interpretation of Naughty vs. Nice: The troll was really very nice, and deserved a present, because he didn't eat any humans for a whole day (which is really hard
for a troll) -- that what it takes to be deserving is putting effort into goodness, and not taking the easy way out. I also like that, for the troll, Santa made his gifting delivery during the day: because that's
when trolls sleep. There's no "One Size Fits All" for either niceness or gifting.
So, anyway, that reawakened my two biggest pet peeves with the usual "Santa Claus at work" genre of stories:
1) The whole naughty vs. nice thing, right at the start. It's true that, eight years ago (yipes!), I wrote an essay about how Santa Claus is actually a "Father Nature Figure" -- Like Mother Nature, a being of Infinite Bounty as long as you show some humility, and don't go around bullying the biosphere. But he's also capable and more than willing to chew you up and spit you out if get too much with the hubris. So, there's some validity to the Naughty vs. Nice idea. But the way it's used in your standard "Holiday Special" fare, it has the (probably... maybe) unintended subtext that both poverty and privilege are somehow morally deserved... particularly if you're a poor kid who never gets the really nice, fun, presents, even when you try really really hard to be good.
2) The whole "You have to believe
" trope, which follows peeve #1 like the left foot follows the right. Because if you're a poor kid, and you notice that the little privileged snots with rich parents get the presents (even if they knock you down in the playground at recess), you're naturally going to start doubting the fables about the North Pole and the elves a little sooner than your peers. So than, to blame the skepticism itself for the fact that Santa never comes to your house is just... plain... cruel. (It was the movie version of "The Polar Express" that really made me notice the dark side of this).
But on the other hand, "Santa"* is absolutely one of my favorite para-mythic beings,* and I'm sentimental enough that the "If we just don't give up hope, we'll be able to make
the magic, Dammit!" story arcs jerk the tears from my eyes every time. One thing I noticed, way back in my teens, was that nearly every story dealt with the conflict of Saving Christmas Itself
-- or, in other words, to keep the Wheel of Time, itself, from grinding to a halt.
So, there's the desire to tell my own "Santa's Magic" story, deeply rooted somewhere in the back of my mind... I just have to figure out how to subvert those two pet peeves.
...And, there are more thoughts, but I took my anti-allergy pills about 2 and a half hours ago, and the word-organizing part of my brain is shutting down for the night. So I will stop there.
*Though actually, since I think he is far older than the invention of any saint, I call him "Wild Nicholas" instead (Besides, calling him "Santa" is like yelling out "Hey, Mister!" -- it's his title
-- not his name)