Thursday, December 5, 2019

Throwback Thursday: Christmahanakwanzika

© Blogspot

Merry Christmas, everyone, and Happy Holidays! All through December, I’ll be using my Throwback Thursday posts to reflect upon nostalgic Christmas commercials. There’s a lot of iconic holiday commercials that run all the time during this time of year. There’s also been plenty of obscure commercials, the type of commercials that often air once and only once, only to be forgotten, making you wonder if they were ever real.

This year, I’ll be focusing on some of the more obscure commercials, those that you may have nearly forgotten about but still remain buried in your subconscious. For this week’s post, I’ll be highlighting a very curious commercial, one that gets curiouser and curiouser the more you think about it. It’s a commercial that’s so weird, that even if you have seen it once, chances are you still have the jingle stuck in the back of your head. Allow me to introduce you all to Christmahanakwanzika!

To learn more about this blatant example of performative "woke brands", click READ MORE:

© Media Matters

You probably don’t need me to tell you that the “War On Christmas” isn’t real. Contrary to what talk radio, Fox News, and propaganda films like “Last Ounce Of Courage” may tell you, there’s no secret conspiracy by secular "liberal" corporations to get rid of Christmas. It’s one of the most celebrated holidays in America, even by Americans who aren’t necessarily Christian. TV channels play non-stop Christmas specials, while radio stations play non-stop Christmas music. This year alone, shoppers are expected to spend more than $1 trillion on holiday shopping. If there were a War on Christmas, then Christmas is clearly winning.

Ever since the “War On Christmas” was imagined by right-wing pundits back in the mid-2000s, pretty much everything else related to the holiday since then, especially the overall increase in holiday spending, has proven it to be false. The War on Christmas isn’t real. It’s fiction. They made it up. It’s false. The secular “liberal” world isn’t trying to eradicate Christmas. If anything, “secular” capitalism is keeping the “religious” holiday relevant even as the number of people who consider themselves “religious” are dwindling.

And yet, if you were to turn on your television in 2005, and if you were to have consumed a steady diet of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly, chances are your delusion about a secular “liberal” corporations waging war against Christmas would have been vindicated by the following commercial:

What you just watched—that is, assuming you’re still reading this if you haven’t already passed out from laughter and/or an aneurysm—was a holiday commercial by Virgin Mobile celebrating “Christmahanakwanzika”, an amalgamation of winter holidays, most notably Christmas, Hanukah, and Kwanza, but also acknowledging other holidays such as Winter Solstice and Ramadan.

Yes, it’s as performatively woke as a corporate brand can get.

This is one of those commercials that’s so weird and out there, you have to wonder if it’s real or not. Is this a “sincere” attempt by Virgin Mobile to celebrate inclusion and diversity? Or is this satire poking fun at “political correctness gone mad”? It’s hard to tell. This commercial is so overtly corny and tacky that it can be read either way.

Honestly, part of me wants to say this commercial is a parody. It certainly feels like one, like a skit that a late-night talk show or Saturday Night Live would create to poke fun at “political correctness.” It has all of the elements of a parody: a corny song with stilted lyrics sung by even more stilted performers, tacky community theater-style costumes that border on offensive cultural stereotypes, and all performed in a transparent effort to sell a corporate product. If this was a sincere attempt by Virgin Mobile to promote multiculturalism, they did so in the most unintentionally hilarious (yet cringeworthy) way possible.

If this commercial was sincere in its intent, then those intentions were clearly good but poorly executed. Both diversity and inclusion are good things, and it’s nice to see big corporations appeal to demographics that are often overlooked; however, if this commercial proves anything, it’s that by trying to appeal to everyone, it’s possible to accidently appeal to no one.

I’m also wondering if such a commercial could ever be released today. My guess is that it couldn’t. It’s one of those commercials that would receive backlash from both sides of the political aisle. The right would obviously cite it as proof of the “War on Christmas” and “political correctness gone mad”, while the left would cite it as an example of a “woke brand” and accuse it of “cultural appropriation” and “performative wokeness”. Again, by trying to appeal to everyone, it appeals to no one.

Is this commercial real? Is it a parody? I’ll let you all decide. But I think we can all agree that this commercial is, at the very least, unintentionally embarrassing.

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