Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Green Chri$tma$ or The Nativity Story

"I did some stuff for Dupont and they said, 'Well, we know about the prunes and pizza rolls, have you ever taken on a really serious client?' and I said, 'Other than God?'" -- Stan Freberg

My wife and I went to the lovely film The Nativity Story this past weekend where there were only a hand full of people in the theater and yet leaving we were amazed at the lines in front of the major retailing stores.

Folks seem to get all warm and fuzzy about x-mas celebrated here in the West. And many of them critize the trend for some sort of political correctness that discourages references to Christmas at work and government. Many of these same folks get all bent out of shape over social and moral issues and yet they go merrily along allowing themselves to be sucked into the marketing of deviated desire. Take a few moments to link to the story of Stan Freberg's Green Chri$tma$ letting it soak in, remembering that the song came out nearly 40 years ago. Our wonderful market economy, by way of its huge success of luring us "consumers" into the false transcendence, has swallowed up this song and spat it back into our faces, laughing all the way to the bank.

[Excerpt from the The Story of Stan Freberg's Green Chri$tma$]
"Do I have to tie my product into Christmas?" Crachit asks. "Christmas has a significance, a meaning!"

"A sales curve!" Mr. Scrooge responds. "Christmas has two s's in it and they're both dollar signs!"

"I listen to that now, and it's like I did it last week. I'm amazed that it holds up all these years." Freberg says. "The interesting thing is that after that record, both Coca-Cola and Marlboro came to me to do ad campaigns. And this is after the president of Capitol, Lloyd Dunn, said, 'Well, I'll tell you one thing, Freberg. You'll never work in the advertising business again.' I was just getting started in the field."

Ironically, Green Chri$tma$ may have marked the turning point in Freberg's career as he shifted his professional focus from radio in the late 1950s to advertising in the 1960s. Freberg went on to a storied career in advertising winning numerous awards and accolades for humor in advertising.

Green Chri$tma$ resonated with listeners but rankled advertisers on Freberg's show. "This record, of course was an attack on the over commercialization of Christmas.," Freberg says. "And when it first came out some sponsors refused to pay for any of their commercials that were programmed within five minutes of my record being played. They felt that my record negated their commercials." So critical was the business of radio and advertising that Green Chri$tma$ received no commercial airplay prior to 1983.

While Freberg is hailed as visionary for his biting brand of satire skewering everything from pop culture to the history of the United States of America it is Green Chri$tma$ that brings out a funny and sad reminder of how twisted we have allowed Christmas to become.
[End of excerpt]

CS Lewis, in his book "Mere Christianity," talked of one of the cardinal virtues - temperance, and that it “referred not specially to drink, but to all pleasures; and it meant not abstaining, but going the right length and no further.” Do you think we have allowed what has turned into a 9 month marketing ca$h cow driven by x-mas hype to get out of hand? Can we live in this Green Chri$tma$ world and not be of it? If so, how?

At the end of this strange little meditation on our deviated desires that we "freely" allow ourselves to be hood-winked into because of x-mas hoopla link to The Nativity Story : and find where the movie is playing in your city and go see it.


Athos said...

I have not yet seen the film, Aramis. Amy Welborn, interestingly, says it seemed "cobbled together" to her. I do plan to see it - I'm a sucker for biblical narratives faithfully made for the big screen.

I sense the culture wars circling Christmas this year are coming to a more finely sharpened point: your offering here shows it.


David Nybakke said...

The book is better than the movie... but absolutely go see the movie and encourage all school aged kid and above to see the flick.

"My" room at home is full of icons and one image is a picture of Joseph holding a young Jesus of maybe 1 or 2 in his arms. I have never been able to track down this painting on the web, but it has come to mean so much to me. My wife found it framed and with a cross of palm branches stuck in the frame. It has a mate; a painting of Mary overlooking baby Jesus, again with the same cross attacked to the frame. For me The Nativity Story movie brought me back to my meditations on these images, particularly the image of Joseph and young Jesus.

The other good mark I will give the movie is the way in which it started and ended with the slaughter of the innocents. This was no nice modern day Christmas story priming me to RUSH out to buy more stuff to put under the tree.

So I will look forward to your review, brother Athos.