SANTA CLAUS EXCHANGE THEORY: No to Ho! Will The Circle be Unbroken?

Sexist Christmas advertising,and other rituals of discontent. why should Christmas be any different than the rest of the year? There is no holiday that seems to invoke the polarity and contradictory impulses that pits theological purity and the reality of sexism/consumerism/racism/miliiarism that motors the economics of the holiday season.

” A gift is something you cannot be thankful for. As soon as I say ‘thank-you’  for a gift, I start canceling the gift, I start destroying the gift, by proposing an equivalence, that is, a circles which encircles the gift, is a movement of reappropriation.” ( Jacques Derrida )

On C.S. Lewis:Father Christmas’s comments about women and warfare stand out as not seeming to fit into the model of flawed remarks from flawed characters. Father Christmas, like Aslan, seems to be the kind of character who could be thought to be speaking for Lewis himself. Although he gives Susan a bow and arrows and Lucy a dagger in chapter ten of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Father Christmas tells them that he does not intend for either of the girls to fight in the battle, a position which some critics see as sexist. What these critics never object to is the fact that Peter does not receive a bow or a healing cordial. Is Lewis saying that males cannot be archers or that boys cannot be healers? Not at all.

Gifts tend to form a circular economy; and being exchanged they limit the very idea of the gift. The very thing that makes the gift possible also makes it impossible. That is, it limits or delimits it. An exchange is more or less an economic transaction in which equivalent value circulates. Also, the American economy survives on this exchange of gifts. The circle is kept closed through the constant debts of gratitude. The gift becomes a metaphor for the impossible; a play of tension between the desire to give and receive something that can never be experienced or articulated. The “magic” of Christmas is pulled down by this dynamic. So , we are stuck; the only option is to give a gift and then forget, receive and forget; to breach the movement of exchange and reciprocity. But we will leave that to the spirits of Christmas past, present and future to sort out…..

First, the Christmas spirit of gender, which seems more crystallized at this moment. The circularity of Derrida cloaking the holiday spirit with the ghetto mentality and our human capacity for wearing masks and the “masquearde” as performance art with regard to the politics of gender and in particular the precarious position of women…” Beyond or beneath the erotic or the pornographic, it is the problem of differentiation, of gender indeterminacy, and its many masks which lies at the core of this . For both sexes within patriarchy the feminine becomes prioritised as the site of masquerade. And beyond personal guises and disguises one is dealing with serious issues; love, hate and death.

Looking back again to the gestation of the modern …what has been called `gender trouble’ started to perturb the linearity of first Cartesian, then Darwinian thought, of Schopenhaurian pessisism and its aftermath. Nietzsche’s profound misogyny was reflected in Otto Weiniger and the succession of earnest sexologists and degeneracy theorists; their researches were subsequently subsumed, both in the grand Freudian narrative of this century, and alas, the the racial theories of fascism.”

"Google image search for sexist ads, and you'll find plenty of examples, old as well as new. Even ads aimed at ad(men) show quite a bit of cleavage, it's as if some adpups just don't know how to tell a story without breaking out the cookie-cutter stereotypes. I've said it before, sexist ads are bad for everyone, not least our collective imagination. Media is a powerful speaker and feeding junk into it which screams louder for each turn only creates a feedback loop that amplifies as we go round and round."

Orlando, Viriginia Woolf’s transexual heroine stands at a temporal and cultural crossroads - she looks backin her various guises to the past; she anticipates the future. In France, too, transexual stories go back to Joan of Arc, man-maid of Orleans, and are reincarnated in the present in Orlan. Two terrains whose paths cross: sexual differences, cultural differences. All have their being under the aegis of patriarchy and the conflict of essence versus existence, `nature or nurture’. `One is not born but rather becomes, a woman.'(Simone de Beauvoir). A history whose origins are neither of our century nor the age of chivalry but must start in fantasy: the aftermath of the revolution against a legendary matriarchy. Here at least, was a vision of a female Golden Age. The eternal sex war represented in art and literature is a less glorious tale.

"While certainly a well made ad and an adorable dress, the treatment of women in the 50s and 60s is frequently horrible. Surely, the only thing a good wife wants for Christmas is a nice vacuum cleaner as if she were a six year old with a new toy. This even after all the Rosie the Riveter type ads from WWII. Women made a huge jump in status while the men were away and then for the most part got boxed back into the role of a housewife."

Sexual cross-identification is a complex affair, wherein gender itself may be defined as a melancholic structure. The body and the visage of woman is created by the male artist as a mask; a mask which Judith Butler in Gender Trouble, rephrasing Lacan, describes as `part of the incorporative strategy of melancholy, the taking on of attributes of the object/Other that is lost, where loss is a consequence of a refusal …

"One disgruntled Santa told the newspaper a recruitment firm warned him not to use "ho ho ho" because it could

hten children and was too close to "ho", a US slang term for prostitute."

Steve Smith : …we present with begrudging admiration “The Cup Size Choir” video that is trending up the viral charts this week. From UK lingerie-maker La Senza and agency Karmarama comes a choir of young models in a range of cup sizes gasping Christmas carols. Oh, it gets better.

You see, the cup sizes translate into musical notes. The parallel mattresses the ladies of variable endowment end up on become a keyboard. Let the holiday orgasmic caroling begin. The camera dances over their heaving figures in order to rouse a Hefner-like Christmas spirit of high-def naughtiness.

"As the boundaries of the museum collapse, gender is transgressed: each amazon, each man in a diamond dress celebrates a passing beauty as well as the masquerade itself, and, in an age after AIDS, the transience of a sadder bohemia, in which the virtuality of the image is the only immortality. On the threshold of the year 2,000, The Other Side summons the beyond; the polyvalence of masquerade fuses with the pathos of endless quotation:`Exhibitionism? Narcissism? Sport? Theatre? Deviation? Inversion? Infantilism? Competiveness? Pride? Sincerity? Imposture? Doubtless, it's love.' "

Actually “The Cup-Size Choir” might just be another flash in the pan viral video if not for the kind of follow-through that more streaming media should try. Follow the direction at the end of the clip to go to and you can click through to the full interactive Monty, so to speak. You get to play the ladies. Just tap the middle row of keys to activate any of the seven, um instruments. You can even record your tune and share it. There is a bit of a lag between clicks or key presses and the tone, but after a little practice you will get the hang of it. And the ladies never seem to get annoyed….

"The song was written in 1944 and is a relic of an era when it was accepted that any respectable woman would both refuse a man’s invitation to stay at his house drinking late into the night, and that when she said “no,” she actually meant “yes.” Why the song is still a beloved classic in 2009, when our culture’s views on consent have changed considerably, is beyond me. By today’s standards, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is a complete train wreck for many reasons. There’s the fact that the man—called “the Wolf” in the original libretto, as if he didn’t already sound predatory and coercive enough—ignores the woman’s explanations for why she needs to leave. There are the explanations themselves, which essentially amount to “my family, friends and neighbors will call me a slut if I stay.” And then, perhaps most problematic of all, there’s the Wolf’s attempt to guilt the woman (called “the Mouse” in the original libretto, as if to imply that she’s simply no match for the man) into staying..."

…Well, it’s Christmas, and I will spare you my politically correct rant about how objectionable this is on so many levels. But there is no getting over that it is a creative piece of work. The photography is peerless and seductive. The gimmick endearing. But best of all there is follow-through to genuine interactivity that is hard to resist. The various keys/women/cups/notes even can click through the purchase opportunities. Naughty as it all may be, it is nice to see an advertiser actually close the loop on a video campaign.

Its hard to know what Jean Genet would have thought about Christmas  …Genet’s `Fragments’ of 1954, a suicidal, Mallarméan prose-poem is surely the most moving testimony to human sexuality produced in the mid-century. It is a passionate exegesis of
homsexuality in riposte to Sartre’s preposterous vision of `pederasty’ as self-willed. Genet insists that his state is `experiences as a theme of guilt…inversion is lived in a solitary state…. The homosexual rejects woman, who, ironically wreaks her vengeance by reappearing inside him, putting him into a dangerous fix. They call us effeminate. Banished, sequestered, hoaxed, Woman, through our gestures and intonations seeks and finds the day: our body, suddenly riddled, becomes unreal.’

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