Life
    Culture

    When Christmas went woke

    17 December 2019

    Woke culture continues to march on and, apparently, not even Christmas itself can ascend beyond the clutches of the enlightened.

    Gingerbread men, once secure not only in their ranking as a tasty festive snack, but also in their biological identity, have been rendered ‘gender-neutral.’ Poor things. And it doesn’t stop there. School children are now being forced to issue handwritten letters to St. Nick filled not with excited requests for a new Xbox or a prized pony, but with whimsical pleas for world peace and wooden flutes. 

    Let’s try film. Perhaps you’re thinking about settling down with the kids to a gentle Christmas Eve screening of Frozen II? Well, be warned. Frozen’s caught the woke bug, and it’s coughing out hot topics with gusto. If you’re hoping for an upbeat narrative and maybe some tame romance, you are to be bitterly disappointed — Elsa and Anna are now combating colonialism and climate change.

    Of course, not all modern takes on our annual season of overindulgence are marked by the same absurdity. Some ideas should have their ‘woke’ label removed and replaced with common sense. The fact that 100,000 tons of greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere as a result of sad, rotting Christmas trees is, well, sad. So, tree rental isn’t a bad idea, and neither is cutting down on wrapping paper and non-perishable plastics. 

    As John Legend and Kelly Clarkson have taught us, invoking the woke can also serve as a vehicle to address serious issues in our modern culture. Concerned that the 1944 festive ballad ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ contains some rather predatory undertones, the pop pair went to the trouble of penning their own version, complete with the line, ‘It’s your body, and your choice’.

    No doubt, this is good woke. But if at any point we end up singing ‘all I want for Christmas is fossil-free renewable energy by 2040’, please club me to death with a reusable water bottle.

    The definition of being woke is to be ‘aware and alert to injustice in society’. In essence, that should be a good thing. But the reason those associated with the term have become so heavily parodied is because they always seem to take it several steps too far. 

    A plea for less plastic compels fast-food chains to wheel out those ‘melt in your mouth’ paper straws which lose structural integrity at the first sip and disintegrate into wet paper mache at the second. What begins as a call to eat more vegetables somehow morphs into a stark warning about burgeoning population numbers and then, finally, a firm admonition to stop procreating altogether. 

    ‘There’s scientific consensus that the lives of children are going to be very difficult,’ said the queen of woke, Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez during an Instagram Live broadcast from her kitchen earlier this year. ‘And it does lead young people to have a legitimate question: Is it OK to still have children?’

    It’s the woke mindset brought to its logical conclusion: no-one can reach its lofty standards, so an entire generation must now be canceled. Our lack of action has brought us this far, and we should be starved of our future offspring as punishment. This sort of morbid moral retribution is really becoming quite absurd, and it certainly has no place at Christmas.

    Yes, curbing festive excesses may be exceedingly wise for one self-controlled individual, but no group, never mind how woke, should be entitled to decree it by a hastily imposed, fear-based norm. Indeed, this peculiar new cultural fad is capable of more than just stealing away our festive treats. At its worst, wokeness hates tradition, rejects healthy debate and idolizes political correctness for the sake of it.

    Too often, woke culture sparks dread culture. Do we want people to tremble as they bite into their distinctly male gingerbread biccie, terrified of the biteback? Or to lose sleep over what the rellies will make of the carbon footprint of their fairy lights? If we’re not careful, the season of good cheer will become the season of guilt and fear.

    So perhaps we should just let Christmas be. This is a holiday that should be marked with peace, joy and hope; a holy reprieve from the scaremongers.