According to research, a third of kids stop believing in Santa before the age of six, but play along to keep their parents happy. Six is really young, but it’s fair enough - the story of Santa has never been the most convincing thing in the world, but in less enlightened, less educated, pre-internet times it all seemed a bit more plausible. Lots of aspects of Santa feel unlikely at best and deeply problematic at worst.
If Santa’s super lame and a bit dodgy, nobody’s even going to want to believe in him. What he needs to do is take a look at his whole setup and reinvent himself in a way that’s more appealing to the youth of today.
While once upon a time portliness was synonymous with jollity, the public perception of obesity has changed. According to the Health and Social Care Information Centre, 61.7% of British adults are either overweight or obese, and barely a week goes by without terrifying headlines about how an ‘obesity epidemic’ is destroying the country. This must seep through to kids. Instead of Santa seeming warm and friendly due to his plumpness, a child will just see a big fat reminder of the pressure that the NHS is under. A kid sat on Santa’s lap is more likely to shout “You’re stealing my future!” than say they want a pony.
Most of the time when an elderly person is in the news now, it’s because they’re a once-beloved entertainer whose appalling behaviour in the 1970s is only now coming to light. Rather than seeming like a kindly grandfather with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, an elderly fat man winking at a child and offering his lap to sit on is likely to find himself at the centre of a social media naming-and-shaming campaign at the very least.
Newspapers have been claiming we’ve reached, and exceeded, ‘peak beard’ for years now. All Santa’s doing with his big white whiskers is looking like he’s stuck in 2014. What are you going to do next, Santa, open a fucking cereal cafe? You big twat.
Kids are woke now, like really woke, and the elf thing has more than a hint of slave labour to it. They’re manifestly treated as second-class citizens, whether due to their size (which is ableist) or their weird ears (which is something else but definitely still bad). It’s unacceptable. Toys from Santa’s workshop are like Sierra Leone blood diamonds. Anything Santa delivers is non-vegan. He’s like the fur industry and a child sex ring combined.
Well no, this just doesn’t sound plausible at all.
6. The North Pole
This might have seemed impossibly far away in the days of maps having ‘Here be Beasties’ printed on them and stuff, but anyone who can work out Wikipedia knows about the North Pole now. There’s fuck-all there - the nearest constantly-inhabited place is Alert, in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada, more than 500 miles away. They experience four months of almost total darkness from October to February. If Santa’s grotto really existed at the North Pole, the elves would be crippled by seasonal affective disorder.
7. “Ho ho ho!”
Bit sexist, mate.
8. Coming down the chimney
A survey of property listings in 2013 found that fewer than 0.05% of them mentioned chimneys. New builds don’t have them, and flats don’t have them, yet kids living in flats and new builds are still seemingly visited by Santa. No wonder nobody believes in him. Why not just say he’s got a magic key made by the SAS or something, or admin rights on everyone’s security system? It’s no less creepy, really, and explains how he can be there dropping presents in your socks when you live on the eighth floor of a ten-storey building.
9. The naughty list
An old white dude setting himself up as arbiter of everyone else’s behaviour, eh? Sounds a bit exhaustingly familiar. Santa’s basically the same as the Westboro Baptist Church or the people who write disgusted letters into the paper saying breastfeeding in public should be made illegal.
10. Seeing you when you’re sleeping and knowing when you’re awake
A fucking iPhone 4 can do that, and nobody’s still got an iPhone 4.