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(Finally done my third major paper in about 2 weeks. That’s at least 50 pages, double spaced with 1″ margins.  I am so sick of writing for school I have been dying to write something that doesn need to be spelt or punktuated properly.)

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It’s easy to forget that the Christmas season -just about all of it- has been invented by Western Culture in the past 100 years or so.  Fat guy in the red suit? thank Coca-Cola for that little tidbit of Western folklore.  In 1931 Artist Haddon Sundblom did a full page ad in the Saturday Evening Post that inspired an annual advertising campaign that was used for more than 30 years.  Just about everything you can imagine about Santa’s appearance is based on that ad (see above).

Before that, Santa had been ‘imagined’ as a tall skinny guy, an elf, a Norseman, a 4th century Saint (Nicholas).  A poem written by Clement Clarke Moore in 1822 called  “A Visit from St. Nicholas” had some features that caught on but after Santa started shilling Coke it stuck.

Santa has been a sell out for a long time.  The Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus for Harper’s Weekly in 1862; Santa was shown as a small elf-like figure who supported the Union.  It should come as no surprise that another advertising agency is going to co op the Santa brand.

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Palm has a new cell phone called Centro and has created a massive, multi-media advertising campaign that is going to be big. I find it a bit freaky to tell you the truth.  Check out the website here: http://www.palm.com/claus

Here’s the TV spot:

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Now Santa is … everything. He is old / young. He is a shemale; sort of androgynous combination of physical features. He’s not married, not fat,  but not fit. He’s naughty, he’s nice,  He’s hip, phat, and mad real yo. The ads read, “Say hello to the new Santa. He’s upgraded himself with email, text, IM, voice, and web. Just call him Claus.”

He’s got a facebook account here, you can text him at 242242 (just include the phrase claus and include your Christmas wish) and he’s got a new album out too. Claus remixed.  This is my favourite song: JingleFunk.mp3

Forgive me if it seems like I am over analyzing this but when companies spend millions of dollars to craft an image with this much detail, I think there is something in the details that speaks to the human condition of our culture.  We are starving for an identity and we have lost the ability to think in words.  Our culture thinks in images and so this phone is sold by its features?  No.  There is hardly a mention of any features of the phone.  It is sold almost exclusively on this transformation of a well known icon.  On Claus’s facebook page they write:

I functioned for centuries as a recluse, only emerging once a year under the cover of darkness to spread joy. I was feeling a little down. I spent all day staring out the window eating cookies.

But that all changed when I received a mysterious gift—a new Palm Centro. That was the moment when Santa became Claüs. The phone inspired me to turn my life around, I got in shape, found a new tailor, it’s like I feel 30 years younger.

My operation is so streamlined now, I finally have time to get out and meet the world. If you see me around town walking my reindeer, courtside at the Lakers game, or distributing holiday cheer at my mistletoe shop don’t be afraid to stop me and tell me your holiday wish. But don’t try and sit on my lap, a fist pump will do

The image is everyting.  Here these advertisers create this identity entirely with an image and then provide an embedded ad that fills in the meaning.  So what?

What is a Christian to do with a world that doesn’t think in words anymore?  We think in images now.  How do we translate the person of Jesus Christ to a world that won’t stick around long enough for a three point sermon?

You are the sermon.  Jesus is alive and well today – do we really believe that?  The answer is to make your life the resurrected life of Jesus.  Jesus died so that we could live ( now here’s the really deep part)  When you were baptized, you died and now you let Jesus take over where you left off.  You are living the resurrected life of Jesus!

Your relationship with your co-worker is the only sermon that people in this culture will ever hear; so let Jesus preach it!   People today are not reached by your logically reasoned defense of the gospel.  They are compelled by a person who cares about who they are.

Well this whole Santa thing doesn’t matter anyhow, Santa is owned by Disney anyway.

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