(Note to my more reactionary readers. Please make sure your sarcasm detectors are fully engaged before you read any further. Thank you)
We see it every December—this blatantly racist program that is cruelly disguised as a “Christmas Classic.” We don’t bat an eye when its harmful and hurtful stereotypes pollute our TV screens. We encourage our children to watch this annual assault on our sensitivities. Of course I am talking about the 1970 Rankin-Bass production of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.”
For the millions of Americans (like me) of German descent, this blatant stereotyping of my ancestors is more than I can swallow. It takes BROAD liberties with Germanic Oral Tradition and fashions a story that bears little resemblance to the narrative my ancestors adopted and respected. It is Cultural Appropriation at its absolute worst!! By what right do they deign to misrepresent these hallowed stories for their own purposes!?
The centerpiece of this offensive one-hour spectacle is the character Bugermeister Meisterburger. *sigh* Could have they POSSIBLY come up with a more stereotypical name? But alas, their sins do not end there. You see Burgermeister is the leader of “Sombertown.” ANOTHER offense! Anyway, the Burgermeister has outlawed all toys in the town, having been injured by tripping over a toy duck while walking out of City Hall. He declares that anyone found possessing a toy will be arrested and thrown in the dungeon.
Oh please!! Here we see another offense for Teutonic-Americans. Yes, the motherland has had issues in the past with autocratic dictators. Can we not put that to rest? Must we dredge this up all the time?
In true racist fashion, Burgermeister is portrayed as a joyless tyrant with a thick Germanic accent. I mean, really. In our culturally-sensitive society how can this be allowed to air? What’s more, look at the helmets his soldiers are wearing! Iron spikes! Not only is that patently offensive, but it is also anachronistic. World War I took place many years AFTER the legend of Kris Kringle was birthed! If you are going to be Germanaphobic at least be historically accurate!!
But there are more triggering anachronisms, believe it or not. Burgermeister’s soldiers goose-step! That’s right. Oh, c’mon Rankin-Bass. Why not go ahead and put swastikas on them while you’re at it?
And to wrap it all up, Burgermeister is portrayed as sadistic and incompetent. He is overweight and bald, triggering every German-American’s sensitivities over body image. He is also continually foiled by Kringle, who (of course) is portrayed as anattractive cis-gendered male of possibly Irish descent.
I do not see how millions of my fellow German-Americans have NOT demanded this one-hour trigger-fest be purged from the annals of history and placed in permanent racist purgatory like so many other works of art. Indeed, if we can cast aspersions on slaveholders and other historical figure whose sensitivities do not perfectly correspond to our own, HOW can we allow “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” to get off Scot-free. Oh wait. I may have offended the Scots. Sorry about that.
(You may now set your sarcasm meters back to “normal.”)