Ugly Christmas Sweaters and Bubba Teeth: On Holidays and Class-Based Humor

Ugly Christmas Sweater

Several days ago, I was wooed to my local thrift store by their promise of deep holiday discounts. As I was shopping, an employee made an announcement over the loudspeaker that went something like this:

“Shoppers! Don’t forget to check out our latest and greatest selection of ugly Christmas sweaters, perfect for your Ugly Christmas Sweater party! They’re located on the west side of the store under the “Christmas sweaters” sign.”

I happened to be one aisle over from that very sign and saw several older, presumably working class women shopping in that section, looking at one another with shocked faces upon their mutual discovery that what they had presumed was a fantastic deal on a nice holiday sweater was now someone else’s joke. Whether such a sweater ended up in their carts I do not know, but it was a very interesting examination of how certain types of defamation can be called “humor” while others simply remain defamation. Continue reading “Ugly Christmas Sweaters and Bubba Teeth: On Holidays and Class-Based Humor”

It (Wasn’t) The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The front entrance of a house decorated during ChristmasI always breathe a sigh of relief when Christmas is over. Don’t get me wrong – I like Christmas carols, watching my kids open gifts, and the smell of Christmas trees, so I’m not a total Scrooge about the affair. But the logistics of travel, the cost of those gifts, the “We put up the decorations; We take down the decorations!” cycle is enough to leave me eager for January.

From a pop culture perspective this rather common feeling is particularly ironic, since most forms of holiday media already sent the very clear message that all of these things that generated such stress for many of us were, in fact, also supposed to be the source of our greatest happiness. Take, for instance, another sign of the season: the retail catalog. For those of us who were barraged by them (and I’ll choose Pottery Barn’s catalog for the sake of a specific example), the messages within unequivocally communicated that, with the proper décor accessories, one’s home can become the most idyllic, cozy shelter ever, capable of withstanding almost any sort of stress that either the holidays or the coldest assaults of winter might bring. Continue reading “It (Wasn’t) The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

Cue Blondie

Santa Clause with headphones on his earsIn a recent post on another site, devoted to a US Supreme Court case on whether a nativity scene could be legally erected by a city using taxpayers’ money, I quoted the dissenting judge who argued against that the majority’s conclusion that such public displays did not contravene the First Amendment to the US Constitution; but it evacuated the religious display of its inherently religious meaning, he countered, to say (as they did) that it was just part of the city’s economic development plan. Continue reading “Cue Blondie”

In the New Old-Fashioned Way

Brenda LeeBeing Christmas day, it’s worth mulling over the artful way in which the arbitrary, changeable present and the authoritative past can be linked together to lend the appearance of continuity and necessity — the result being what we otherwise call tradition.

As if all history led to us, putting us in synch with the ages. Continue reading “In the New Old-Fashioned Way”