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Posts Tagged ‘Elf on the Shelf’

Every year its the same story: a small group of bleeding-heart liberals declare war on (terrible) Christmas (songs). For example, last year Funny or Die created a video revealing how rapey “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is. This year, a couple has re-written some of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” to emphasize the importance of consent. Based on this short list, you would be forgiven for thinking that the primary objective in this war is to take down “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Other songs are also targeted, however.

For example, A.V. Club has a regular feature called “HateSong,” in which people talk about songs they hate (I know, it is a difficult concept to grasp). Last year, Dan Finnerty, who is in a band called Dan Band (that, as far as I can tell, performs primarily in movies) discussed his hatred for “The Christmas Shoes.” As you may know, “The Christmas Shoes” was named “The World’s Most Offensive Christmas Song” in 2010, so Dan’s hatred is well-deserved. Dan’s band also recorded a song called “The Christmas Flip-Flop” to make fun of it, which I suppose demonstrates more commitment to hatred than simply writing a blog post.

Whether you’re full of Christmas spirit or need a 500-reindeer-powered Kringle 3000 to help you get out of bed this time of year, here are some additional posts from the past about Christmas:

2015: Life after murder for Kevin Mcallister

2015: ELF ON THE SHELF!

2015: Preferred pronouns on the shelf

2014: Christmas as social control

2013: Christmas at Fox News

2012: Kevin McCallister, murderer?

2012: Toys for rich and poor

2012: Toys for boys and girls

2012: Thoughts on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

2011: Holiday advertising gone wrong (a.k.a. the Folgers commercial)

2009: Christmas spells relief


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Late December is not only the time for grading and holidays, it is also the time to repost things that were written long ago as an alternative to writing something new when busy with grading and holidays. (Alternatively, one might also post old things by others!) In keeping with this tradition and the approach of Christmas, here are some Christmas-themed posts from the past:

2015: Life after murder for Kevin Mcallister

2015: ELF ON THE SHELF!

2015: Preferred pronouns on the shelf

2014: Christmas as social control

2013: Christmas at Fox News

2012: Kevin McCallister, murderer?

2012: Toys for rich and poor

2012: Toys for boys and girls

2012: Thoughts on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

2011: Holiday advertising gone wrong (a.k.a. the Folgers commercial)

2010: The world’s most offensive Christmas song

2009: Christmas spells relief

“Like” Memoirs of a SLACer on Facebook for links to holiday-themed posts a few times a year and non-holiday-themed posts the rest of the year.

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Knowing that I’ve written about Elf on the Shelf a few times in the past, a friend recently sent me a link to another sociologist’s take on the elf, which is slightly more positive. Last year, responding to those who criticize Elf on the Shelf for preparing children to live in a police state, Todd Schoepflin at Creative Sociology wrote that Elf on the Shelf is fun and may even marginally improve the behavior of children for a few weeks a year. This year, he decided to reinforce this view in an ALL-CAPS POST stating that he is both still in favor of the Elf on the Shelf and “A SELF-PROCLAIMED EXPERT ON THE ELF ON THE SHELF.”

For the record, I don’t have anything seriously against the Elf on the Shelf. I doubt it affects children any more than telling them that Santa Claus can see them when they’re sleeping and knows when they’re awake and I’m sure that it can be fun. I do think, however, that moving it every night sounds like a pain in the ass! I asked my friend if Schoepflin’s post had convinced him to change his mind about getting an Elf (unlike me, he actually has a child). I hope that he won’t mind if I quote his response: “NO I WILL NOT BE GETTING AN ELF ON THE SHELF.”

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While doing my capitalist duty this weekend, I noticed that there actually is a benefit to those annoying Elf on the Shelf dolls (aside, of course, from social control):

Elf on the Shelf

They can be used to introduce your children to the idea of preferred pronouns (note the upper right corner of the box) and the fact that not everybody is cisgender! Not a bad “new family tradition” to adopt!

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Today is December 15, which means that there are 10 more days to gear up for Christmas or, alternatively, ten more days until you will stop hearing “Jingle Bell Rock” everywhere you go. In either case, here are some snarky Christmas-themed posts to pass the time:

2014: Christmas as social control

2013: Christmas at Fox News

2012: Kevin McCallister, murderer?

2012: Toys for rich and poor

2012: Toys for boys and girls

2012: Thoughts on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

2011: Holiday advertising gone wrong (a.k.a. the Folgers commercial)

2010: The world’s most offensive Christmas song

2009: Christmas spells relief

Christmas Bonus: A subscription to the Jelly of the Month Club? No, its the Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog for 2012, 2013, and 2014

“Like” Memoirs of a SLACer on Facebook and I promise I will stop playing “Jingle Bell Rock” (and doing the dance from Mean Girls).

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Bentham and Foucault might have been interested in the panopticon but every December we get a view of  true social control in the form of an overweight man at the North Pole. Santa Claus (or Sandy Claws, as he is sometimes called) is just the latest in a long line of beings whose sole purpose is to control children through fear (Krampus is another example, as is the Belsnickel, as Dwight demonstrated on The Office). Recently, though, Santa has been doing his spying by proxy (giving him more time to bully young reindeer).

In Santa’s place are his elves on the shelves, a team of small elves who began taking up residence in people’s homes in 2005. These elves observe the behavior of children and then fly back to the North Pole to report their observations to Santa each night. The magical ability to do so begins when the elves are named (before this point they are apparently in some sort of coma during which they can be sealed in boxes and sent to stores around the country) but the elves are in danger of losing their magic if touched. Upon returning each night, the elves hide in a new place and children delight in finding them each morning. Apparently, some of the elves also like to get into mischief, making them both spies and hypocrites.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

If you have continued reading, prepare yourself for a shock. The elves are actually inanimate objects with neither magic nor the ability to report to Santa Claus each night. Instead, adults in each household are responsible for moving the elves around (thus touching them and ruining any magical potential that they may have had). As you can imagine, this creates quite a bit of work for these adults, to the point that there are posts dedicated to dealing with the fact that they forgot to move the elves. The elves have also been copied in various ways. Telling children that Santa can see them when they’re sleeping and knows when they’re awake and knows if they’ve been bad or good seems much easier, especially since adults are likely to run out of creative places to hide the elf after about the third day.

Assuming that the intention of Santa, Krampus, the Belsnickel, and the elves on the shelves is social control, it seems that the elves would be both the least effective and the biggest pain in the ass. Imagine if the prison designed by Bentham made it possible that prisoners could be observed at any time unless they touched the prison wall, in which case a door came down that cut off the potential view of the guards. There might be no escaping Santa’s creepy spying or the Belsnickel’s judgment, but if I was a kid and I wanted to get away with bad behavior you can bet that the first thing I would do is touch the damn elf.

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