It is a sad indictment of our times that at this most sacred time of year there are those determined to ruin it.
Four years ago, Sony-owned Columbia Records released "O Come All Ye Faithful," a CD of Christmas music performed by such artists as Henry Rollins, Bush -- the British band, not our president-elect-at-last -- and Luscious Jackson. This recording "celebrated" the birth of Jesus by donating the proceeds to pro-abortion groups.
So far this holiday season, I haven't heard of a likely gift item that's as sickening as Sony's insult to pro-life Christians, which isn't to say that some companies, hoping to attract shopping dollars, aren't trying.
World Wrestling Federation personality Mick (Mankind) Foley wrote the best-selling 1999 autobiography, "Have a Nice Day!" Now comes the illustrated children's tale "Mick Foley's Christmas Chaos," published by HarperCollins' ReganBooks imprint. "Make room on the shelf," trumpets the dust-jacket blurb, "next to 'The Night Before Christmas' and 'A Christmas Carol.'"
You have to wonder what kind of demented parent would consider buying such garbage for his or her child. It's not as if the buyer would be surprised by the contents. The front cover depicts a naked elf, posed so that his private parts are (barely) hidden. On the back cover, you'll find an artist's rendering of characters like WWF stars X-Pac, best known for gesturing toward his crotch and wearing a shirt that reads "Suck It"; Val Venis, whose persona is that of an ex-porn star; and the Godfather, whose persona is that of a pimp frequently accompanied by scantily clad "hos."
Once you actually start the book, early on you read that one elf is teaching his fellow elves to use obscene language, while the naked elf moons Santa Claus. On the next page, the elves are in front of a television set, watching the WWF show "Raw Is War." Is Foley suggesting a cause-and-effect connection between the WWF's programming and real-life obnoxious behavior? Worse: Could he possibly be
proud of this? Amazingly, the only logical conclusions one can reach are: Yes and yes.
The Christmas story continues. Rudolph is beaten up by his fellow reindeer, who resent his fame and wealth (he owns the copyright to, yes, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.") Eventually, however, Santa, the elves and the reindeer reconcile after Santa receives a selfless, heartwarming letter from a young burn victim who reminds everyone of the true meaning of Christmas.
Throughout the book there are numerous plugs for WWF merchandise, such as a Stone Cold Steve Austin shirt. (Beer-drinking, religion-mocking and middle-finger salutes are staples of Austin's act.) One girl has a Chyna action figure on her Christmas list. (Chyna is the female wrestler who recently posed nude for Playboy, and regularly appears on WWF programming wearing very little.) There is only one lesson to be learned: This wretched book is deliberately promoting to youngsters the extremely offensive -- make that the disgusting and damaging -- spectacle that is the WWF.
Speaking of marketing to children, Entertainment Weekly reports that the "Charlie's Angels" dolls come with thong underwear, and that the one based on Drew Barrymore's character sports a tattoo. I'd love to see the study showing a market demand for this from 3-year-olds. Apparently teen pop star Christina Aguilera's action figure is a bit risqué, as well. In Washington City Paper, Sean Daly writes that Aguilera's "barely dressed talking doll is activated by caressing her belly ... and the box for her Sing-A-Long Microphone & Amplifier kit features a shot of the singer with her hands behind her head, her eyes half-closed, her bare midriff thrust out, and her orange-clogged feet crossed in a Lolita-like pose."
We end where we began, with Sony. It appears that the electronics behemoth was on the verge of replicating its 1996 performance by launching an utterly tasteless $5-to $7-million advertising campaign for its e-commerce site SonyStyle.com. The spots, according to Advertising Age, "showed St. Nick being abducted and beaten by drifters -- an image intended to emphasize his irrelevance to holiday shopping given the existence of SonyStyle.com."
Someone in the corporate offices ultimately sobered up and stopped the campaign before it started. A Sony spokeswoman says, "We knew going into it that the concept was edgy. We decided to push the envelope." Manifesting a lot more common sense is Marjorie Costello of CE Online News, who remarked that the ads "really raised questions in my mind about how a premium brand name (like Sony) could be put in the context of a 'low-rent' situation." Especially during what is still, despite the best efforts of many, the most wonderful time of the year.