Tuesday 22 December 2009

Santa Satire Is Snow Joke

VGIF recently highlighted a report in the British Medical Journal arguing that Santa was bad for the nation's health. He quoted all the best snippets in his piece here, but this is one example.

Santa is a public health hazard - promoting obesity and drink-driving, experts have claimed.

Images of a fat, jolly and somewhat tipsy Father Christmas send out the wrong message and could damage millions of lives, they said.

Snowdon ended the article in almost pleading tone.

The full article is behind a pay wall at the moment. I'll read it all tomorrow and it had better turn out to be an elaborate hoax, because if this is meant to be taken seriously, there is no hope.

Fortunately, via antipodean freedom-lover Crampton, the report author, Nathan Grills, explains his bafflement that no-one got the joke.

Most of the 'Santa- A public Health Pariah' article is meant to be tongue-in-cheek. It's a Christmas spoof. It's supposed to be spreading a bit of Christmas cheer, but with a tinge of seriousness to provoke a bit of healthy Christmas dinner table conversation. The BMJ Christmas edition is a special edition with much humour.

Unfortunately, the article has spread like wildfire but it has lost a bit of the Christmas cheer element.

I don't think Nathan quite understands the make-up of humour. A spoof can't readily be taken as a spoof, especially one published in the generally condemnatory BMJ, if it's possible that it could be true.

It would appear that Nathan himself believed that no-one could possibly take such nonsense seriously, but then he is an epidemiologist who is no doubt blissfully unaware of the contempt with which much of the public view some of the guff produced by his colleagues.

Christmas cheer? We suffer these alarmist nuisances criticising every aspect of our lives for the whole of the preceding eleven and a half months, why would we be cheered by Santa being condemned as a public health threat?

It's no more stupid than many other studies we have seen in 2009, so is quite readily credible.

After all, as Crampton points out.

A piece 40 years ago advocating banning smoking in public outdoor places would have been seen as satire too though.

Compared with such lunacy, the idea that Santa is easing your kids into an early coffin doesn't strike one as so bizarre.


Mark Wadsworth said...

I don't think it was a spoof.

Think of all the other crap that Santa is accused of, like being an invention of Coca Cola (one of the world's most ee-e-evil corporations, all that sugar etc) or being a symbol of rampant consumerism or being a racist or a snob (rich kids get better presents than poor kids) or anti-Christian.

Whichever way you spin it, the author of the article is a humourless ****.

banned said...

I asked on a blog some days ago whether or not this might have been a spoof. As you say Dick, we have become so used to the righteous making all sorts of ridiculous claims based on fake science or none that it has become impossible to seperate reality from fantasy.

Neal Asher said...

What gets me with all this health Nazism is that our lifestyles generally aren't sending us early to our coffins. We live a very long time, long enough to end up in an old people's home, propped up by a Zimmer frame and pissing our pyjamas. And with that thought in mind, cigars and whisky for me over Christmas, and enough food to make me incapable of movement from dinner time onwards. Happy Christmas!

Anonymous said...

40 years ago?

Hell, three years ago a ban on smoking outside would have been considered a spoof. Then again three years ago a ban on smoking in pubs seemed almost inconceivable. It's frightening how quickly we've slipped into Hell. I mean, I was watching V For Vendetta the other day, a film that was only made five years ago. And even in that dystopian Big Brother-esque Socialist grief-hole.... people were still smoking in pubs. And now we're watched by CCTV, slaves to an unelected despot and his unelected European Masters. Can it get much worse than this?

Unknown said...

Yes, I heard this on the news the other day spouted by the BBC. If those responsible journalists didn't see the joke then how are we? The remark "responsible journalists and the BBC" was tongue in cheek by the way:)

Angry Exile said...

Oh, joke my arse. He may have been exaggerating to make his point, but his point is being made with all seriousness.

Despite the humour of the paper, Grills says there is a serious message we should take from it.

"If Santa is a figure that appeals to kids and he's used by big corporations to market alcohol and the like, then basically he's marketing those products to kids."

So he's still a whiny, hectoring, nanny statist, sanctimonious killjoy, and I still want to take a dump in his mailbox.

Anonymous said...

Last year ITV3 ran "The Two Ronnies" from the 80s(?). They had a running sketch "The Worm That Turned" which featured a totalitarian dystopia ruled by women in which men had to wear frocks and were known by women's names. In one episode one of the men said he was in trouble for 'playing rugby and smoking a cigar'. Cue much laughter at the absurdity of it....

I think things are gonna get a whole lot worse once the EU's stopped just limbering up.