Christmas

Frosty’s White Privilege: Having the Courage to Expose the “isms” and “aphobias” in Supposedly Benign Christmas Songs to Save the Children

Trigger Warning: Graphic discussions of homophobia, white privilege, heteronormative bias, etc. to follow. Seek out Play Doh ® and videos of puppies as needed.

One of the most invidious elements of the “Christmas Season” imposed without written consent upon unsuspecting shoppers buying organic kale and going to Bernie Sanders rallies in the public square are cheerful songs which harbor sinister messages which have been subtly indoctrinating adult and child alike for decades.

They both reflect and inculcate a world view that denies the “other” and denigrates it while championing the white patriarchal power system. Now that the Christian zealotry celebration is past, we have a year to address and stamp out this propaganda.

We must act quickly.

Luckily, you have me as your guide. Our college students, who have been faithful warriors in such important efforts as not having soggy pulled port in cafeterias which are an affront to those of Asian heritage, have somehow overlooked this issue. Perhaps their indoctrination since birth has been too invidious.

Let us begin.

As painful as it is, we must first address Frosty the Snowman. Frosty is the epitome of White Privilege. He is the Magical White Man. Consider the line, “He led them down the streets of town right to the traffic cop. And he only paused a moment when he heard him holler, “Stop!”

Had Frosty been Black, or any person of color, he would have been tasered at the least or shot when he disobeyed the (White) officer’s command. But evidence of his White Privilege was that the “traffic cop” simply let him go on his way. The lesson to the children (who were all White in the 1969 CBS cartoon) was that their White Privilege would allow them to escape the consequences of violating the orders of a police officer. The traffic cop was voiced by Paul Frees (“Freeze!”). A coincidence? Hardly. In the White Privilege world there are no coincidences.

Heteronormity is also drummed into children’s heads, as evidenced by the song Deck the Halls which makes the crass straight assumption that somehow the gay/lesbian/transgendered community can be discerned by their clothes: “Don we now our gay apparel.” This is also one of several instances of cultural appropriation, where children and adults are encouraged to appropriate the attire of another group to mock them.

Another such instance is the Nat King Cole “classic,” The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire). Here, a native culture is mocked through cultural misappropriation, “and folks dressed up like Eskimos.” What right do these people have to dress like Eskimos? Has anyone – anyone – stopped to consider how these Native People think of having their dress and way of life taken from them and copied and worn without the proper respect and appreciation?

There appear to have been some songwriters who have fought back. Hugh Martin apparently snuck this by the censors for the hit (originally sung by Judy Garland in Meet Me in St. Louis and later recorded by Frank Sinatra) Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas: “Have yourselves a merry little Christmas, make the yuletide gay; from now on our troubles will be miles away.” This was a very bold statement for 1944, that coming out of the closet was the beginning of a trouble-free life for gays/lesbians.

And then, of course, there is White Christmas.  What could be a clearer racist message than the opening line, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know.”  It might as well say “I’m dreaming of a White Privilege Christmas…”  It is clearly hearkening back to the “good old days” when White males held unquestioned power over womyn, cisgendered, and the non-white races – “the other” which are always to be feared by the privileged.  It is the plaintiff cry of the White male patriarchy for a power that is slipping from their grasp.  All the words about treetops glistening and children listening to hear sleigh bells is clearly cover for the primal fear of the disenfranchisement of the white power elite.

Or, I suppose, these are simply innocent images and word usages in inoffensive, heartwarming stories and songs that are supposed to give people good feelings and carry no sinister intent. But without such analysis, what is a Social Justice Warrior left to do? When is soggy pulled pork just bad cafeteria food?