Aren’t you sorry you missed this one?
Noam Chomsky: Deconstructing Christmas (1998)
This PBS/WGBH special featured linguist and social commentator Chomsky sitting at a desk, explaining how the development of the commercial Christmas season directly relates to the loss of individual freedoms in the United States and the subjugation of indigenous people in southeast Asia.
Despite a rave review by Z magazine, musical guest Zach de la Rocha and the concession of Chomsky to wear a seasonal hat for a younger demographic appeal, this is known to be the least requested Christmas special ever made.
Although I’m not a Christian, I have a strange fondness for Christmas-related kitsch; Channukah-related kitsch is no match. When I lived in Israel, I could never quite get used to the fact that December 25 was just another day.
At the top of my holiday wish-list this year (as it was last year and probably will be next year) is this musical compilation.
Among the bummed-out classics (you can hear samples at the Amazon site) are:
–“Christmas in Jail” by the Youngsters, apparently a minimally successful 1950s doo-wop group. Perhaps the song was inspired by “Clink,” Orwell’s account of trying to get imprisoned for the holidays in 1931.
–“Don’t Believe In Christmas” by The Sonics, which borrows heavily from Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” which in turn borrows heavily from Chuck Berry’s “Too Much Monkey Business.” Anyway they all sound kind of alike to me.
–“Lonely Christmas Call” by the great George Jones, whose voice gives me chills even with the most maudlin stuff.
–“Christmas Spirit?” by the Dylan-influenced [non-Bob Marley] Wailers.
I hope everyone enjoys a not-so-bummed-out holiday season.