‘Tis the season to be jolly and whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Ramadan or winter solstice, something is different this holiday season. We saw a bit of it last year with “some talk” over the holiday song Baby, It’s Cold Outside. This year, though, it’s been taken to a whole new level as we’re seeing radio stations now banning the song. So, what is making millennials suddenly get triggered over these holiday favorites?
I’m a Gen-Xer. I grew up with Rankin and Bass’ “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” as well as “Frosty the Snowman.” I loved Dr. Seuss’ “How The Grinch Stole Christmas!” and adored the Peanuts holiday specials. I never thought of any hidden meaning behind these specials, other than they were children’s television programs promoted to make people smile during the holidays.
I also loved hearing timeless holiday tunes like Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer or Baby, It’s Cold Outside. Yet, never once was I entertaining the idea that there’s something dark or malicious behind them. Equally, I even love off-beat Christmas carols like Red Peters’ Holy Shit, It’s Christmas or Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo from the now-treasured It’s Christmas in South Park.
The other day I read a serious news story at HuffPost (aka The Huffington Post) that blasted Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for being a misogynistic story that went so far to say it was potentially homophobic or that it was encouraging bullying of the physically challenged. Equally, Twitter lit up with other users saying various things about the special that they hadn’t noticed as a child.
My question is simple: what in the hell has gone wrong with America? Why are so many young people getting so easily triggered and even going so far as to suggest that “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” is racist? Yet, people don’t seem to have issues with a singing piece of feces on stage in a politically correct holiday pageant. Equally, they’ll request a radio station to ban Baby, It’s Cold Outside while laughing hysterically over Holy Shit, It’s Christmas mentioning gerbils and Santa Claus … ewe!
The same can be said for the now classic “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” which, as this may surprise you, is one of my treasured holiday favorites. However, when it comes to cousin Eddie? Ugh! Although Eddie does show how big of a heart he has— even if the film does end up with a major felony. However, I tune in every year to watch Clark W. Griswold hang from the rain gutters.
One could argue that with the advent of social media, and its ability to share data more so than ever before, opinions are more available than ever. We’ve seen how much social media has shaped politics, policies, health, religion, society and so forth. Is that why now people claim that when young Ralphie may unintentionally “shoot his eye out” that it’s a stance promoting the NRA? I’m sure that Jean Shepherd intended that when he wrote the book.
One could also say that with society becoming more transparent than ever before, that people are more likely to be more receptive to subliminal messages that may have previously gone unnoticed or just ignored altogether. More so, a study published in Computers in Human Behavior in April 2017 showed that, “… use of multiple SM platforms is independently associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety.” Indeed, we have seen a rise in mental health awareness due to the rise of social media, but there have also been reports of widespread depression and anxiety. With one swipe of a finger and a few taps on a keyboard, we can insult, alienate, inspire, challenge and make a campaign sweep across the nation. We add and drop friends on social media easily, sometimes without a second thought, and sometimes we feel the loss as painfully as it would be without social media. So, is it because now we’re more connected then ever before that most of us have become keyboard warriors without fully realizing the implications of it?
As we connect more on a digital level, we are also now bringing to light issues that have remained dormant for years and should be brought to light. I am a full supporter of the #MeToo movement and believe that those guilty of sexual misconduct, rape and abuse should be judged in a court of law. What I am not a fan of is when someone is accused, without evidence brought against them, and are automatically judged. This is a dangerous and scary trend. It not only applies to individuals, but apparently traditions and history. Really?
Radio stations have started banning songs like Baby, It’s Cold Outside. The reason? Some believe that the song has a predatory message. True, the song was written at a different time in a different context, and to understand any piece of art, music or literature – we first examine the time frame from where it is based, and the culture that preceded it. However, if radio stations can arbitrarily decide to ban a song simply because they believe the message may be predatory, what’s to stop radio stations from banning another song?
In the past few days, after reading about these news articles that sound like they should be from The Onion rather than “credible” news organizations, I couldn’t believe these were serious news stories. At first, I thought this was a trend that would come and go, but now it looks to get larger as time goes on – and not exempt to holiday specials, either.
One of the most thought-provoking pieces of dialogue I’ve ever heard is from one of my all-time favorite television shows, “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” The episode was called “The Drumhead” and Captain Picard, played brilliantly by Sir Patrick Stewart, delivers the following line: “With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.”
Lesson learned? Hopefully. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a huge fan of social media. I think it plays an important role in connecting us all in ways we never could before. I’m also an advocate for change when it comes to social media. How much control does it in fact have over our daily lives and our precious data? More importantly, how much control does it have in our health? We already know that high stress levels lead to health complications. How much stress should we voluntarily submit to? Even as I write this article, it was because I saw social media flooded with this very topic, and thought to myself: no, this can’t be right!
Just remember, if one song is censured, one holiday special banned, it means that anyone’s speech or anyone’s idea can be irrevocably denied. So, to that end, I encourage you all to watch your holiday specials, and listen to your favorite holiday songs. More so, spend time with good friends and family. Let them know that you care – even if it’s as simple as a hug, or a friendly text. In the end, all people are entitled to opinions no matter if you born in 1963 or 1993, and not any group who leans right, left or middle can tell you otherwise.
BA Primack et al. Use of multiple social media platforms and symptoms of depression and anxiety: A nationally representative study among U.S. young adults. April 2017. Computers in Human Behavior April 2017.
Melissa G Hunt, Rachel Marx, Courtney Lipson, Jordyn Young. No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 2018; 751 DOI: 10.1521/jscp.2018.37.10.751