On Background with Splotches - The Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse fire; links to articles about it in one place (at least for now, later may require search terms). No, I wasn't there. Li...
Monday, November 28, 2011
The Five Most Traumatic Christmas Special Moments
Christmas, as everybody knows, is terrible. It's a nightmarish, pine-scented, alcohol-soaked time of the year filled with bad music and long roadtrips and stale popcorn scraps in big metal tins that sit in the office breakroom for weeks while the guy who gave it to you gets downsized and leaves crying through the back staircase. And it's also a time for remembering your childhood, and how messed up that was. Below are five TV specials that crawled into your brain and never emerged, sometime between your first dead pet and puberty. Dear Santa: Go fuck yourself.
1. The Little Drummer Boy's garish clown makeup
Above is a clip of Jane Edith Wilson describing how this screwed her up -- especially the part where the Drummer Boy gets a painted-on clown smile to help him look cheerful, even though his parents are dead. It's still slightly less disturbing than the David Bowie video.
2. The schoolteacher's brown acid freakout during Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town
She sings a song called My World Is Beginning Today, and there are colors just dripping from the sky. Soon she goes to college and experiments with drug use and BDSM. And then she straightens up and becomes Mrs. Claus. And seeing this is like the first time you realized your parents have sex, times a million.
3. The Death of Frosty
Long before you saw HAL getting uplugged, or watched Roy Batty let that dove fly into the rainy sky, or squirmed while Hannibal Lecter cooked parts of Ray Liotta's brain... the scene in the greenhouse where Frosty became a pool of lifeless, ordinary water was like the first hint that the grim reaper would come for you too, one day. Hi kids! I'll be your jolly playmate right now. But as soon as things reach a comfortable temperature, I'll turn into a puddly little Memento Mori. Hurry up with the sleigh-ride, because it's later than you think!
4. The squirrel crawling over Uncle Billy during It's A Wonderful Life
Bad enough that this scene is absolutely agonizing -- the guy makes an honest mistake, and now his nephew has to kill himself for the insurance money. But this is the part where Capra has to get creepy and symbolic with us. What the fuck does that squirrel even mean? Does he represent creeping madness? The coming winter? The fact that someone needs to close a window somewhere? We never find out.
5. Wookie Porn.
You know what I'm talking about, don't you? It's the ugliest moment of the Star Wars Holiday Special, and that is a high bar to hurdle. But this combines the emotional horror of horny grandpa with the moral and aesthetic darkness of the 1970's. People saw this and they just went right to the polls and voted Ronald Reagan into office. It wasn't the hostage crisis, or disco. It was the wookie porn.