Santa Claus Is Foolin' Around
2003-12-17, 6:08 p.m.
I've been going through my treasure trove of wacky holiday music lately, as well as collecting more this year. Hill made me a wacky Christmas CD last year, and this year I returned the favor. So I was going through my stash when I noticed a particular peculiar theme: what on earth is up with all these sex songs about Santa Claus?
I think I always thought that those kind of songs cropped up once in a great while and were just a joke, making someone who's inherently unsexual into a sexual being just for fun. Kind of akin to say, Weird Al making Santa into a serial killer in "The Night Santa Went Crazy." It's unlikely, and that's why that song is funny. But the more I realize how many dirty Santa songs there are out there, I'm starting to wonder about it. And then I stumbled across this:
"Much Christmas music is, in fact, quite irreverent about Santa; he kisses mommy under the mistletoe, he is capable of being mugged by the enemies of Ray Davies, Grandma is run over by his reindeer. He is represented as having a coarse and earthy materiality- he is corpulent, he carries items, his laugh is his most distinctive utterance." -Tris McCall, The Tris McCall Report.
The original sexual Santa song is, of course, the traditional "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," which even as a child I didn't find it as funny as it was supposed to be. It's a creepy song, but if you have a child (or "child") singing it, it's supposed to be sweet. Well, not so much.
"What a demented scenario. A little girl spies on her mother making out with a stranger, and her reaction is that it would be a "laugh" if her father could watch, too? Hey, I"m all for deviant sexual get-downs, but there's something downright sinister about this one. Okay, fine, the stranger here isn't exactly strange; he's Santa Claus, and therefore a familiar face. Moreover, the implication (I guess) is that the listener is supposed to know that "Santa" here is Daddy dressed up in a costume, and that this is actually a wholesome scene of laughable family hijinx and winsome misunderstanding. Plot-level, though, the eavesdropping child certainly does not recognize Santa as her father- even after watching long enough to be able to communicate some specs about the make-out session. Her glee at the scene can either be attributed to a desire to hurt her dad or to replace him with a figure of greater masculine potency." -Tris McCall.
It sounds to me like this song was written by a sitcom writer, building off of those "oh, isn't it funny?" misunderstandings that only someone brain-dead, on a sitcom, or in an incredibly bad romance novel would actually believe. And as Tris later points out, why is this kid so delighted to see Mommy putting the mack on another guy, even the one that gives you presents? No small child naïve enough to be tricked by a beard and suit would be that thrilled to see a stranger all over Mommy, even if Daddy was a real S.O.B. It's just...one big ew, and it's even more ew that we're supposed to think it's cute and sweet.
The other major Santa-gets-some-macking song of the olden days is "Santa Baby," which is the precursor to a whole lot of even naughtier, raunchier stuff. I've got a version of it done by Wendie Malick that about makes me sick- let's just say it's very clear that she wants a Santa Sugar Daddy. What Tris McCall said about it is so utterly perfect:
"The effort to sexualize Santa Claus is gruesome not merely because St. Nicholas is a fat senior citizen in red Bhagwan Rajneesh pajamas- it's also disturbing because his major distinguishing feature is his bag of loot, and if you're offering him kisses and baby talk in exchange for some of his dough, well, there's a not-very-nice name for that sort of behavior."
Heh heh heh.
In the modern era, naturally, the songs have gotten a whole lot worse. Just on my Truckers Christmas album, there's "Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'" and "Santa Stole My Baby." "Santa Claus Is Fooling Around" is a Bob Rivers classic, and even Dr. Elmo has chimed in with Goin' On A Date With Santa (mp3 sample link), which is all the more disturbing when a guy is singing about Santa messing with his blouse. Don't forget poor Eminem's mom, who also got the mack put on her by Santa in "What if Eminem Did Santa Claus?" And of course, one year I managed to find the ever-dainty tune of "I Saw Mommy Blowing Santa Claus," and now I'm wondering when I'll find the Daddy equivalent. There's also a song I haven't heard, for which I have no explanation and am afraid to ask, called "Here Comes Santa's Pussy."
So what is with Santa screwing around with Mommy or someone's girlfriend? Is it a case of sheer prostitution, with women sleeping with him for gifts? Or does Santa secretly have the sexual machismo of say, Bill Clinton? Or do men just feel threatened at the idea of a strange guy with gifts sneaking into the house who knows when they are sleeping and when their girlfriends are awake?
And come on, girls, which one of you out there actually wants to be on Santa's naughty list? He's old enough to be your million-times-great-grandfather, he's married, he could probably squash you in the sack with all those cookies he eats, and he uh, "plays with elves." Oh yeah, baby, that gets me HOT.
And of course, these days, Santa's an equal-opportunity man whore. What about poor neglected Mrs. Claus? She's "Just A Woman" (mp3 link) and ahem, can't get Santa's attention when he's out "drinking" with the elves. Though I did manage to find one song, Me and Mrs. Claus, that evened the score a bit.
I appreciate any attempt to be funny in its own way, and these songs are indeed funny. But as a trend, I can't deny that it's just plain odd.
"From Bad Santa to "Evil Santa" videogames to commercials that portray St. Nicholas as a debauched womanizer, we have an unmistakable tendency to want to represent Father Christmas as a bad dude. An overreaction to the treacle of songs like "Up On The Housetop," surely, but also something more. Our irreverence extends to most modern Santa iconography, and is shockingly total- think, when was the last time you saw a recent unironic representation of old St. Nick? Is this a manifestation of our ambivalence about capitalism and product exchange? Veiled potshots at the figure of Jesus, hidden somewhere inside that red suit? Plain old child abuse? Whatever it is, I'm sick of it; corrupt, dissolute Santa has now become a bigger cliché than rosy-hued Santa ever was." -Tris McCall.