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Saturday, December 25, 2004

Snowball’s Chance in Hell (Holiday Cackles from the Balcony)

It has become something of an NPR tradition at Christmas time to replay David Sedaris’ "Santaland Diaries," a mildly funny, genial, utterly inoffensive trifle with about as much subversive bite as an episode of The Golden Girls.

Of course, the tradition-loving conservatives have always been notably selective about the “traditions” they are most eager to show their love. And for the rest? The shove.

While the conservatives seem conspicuously keen to conserve those traditions in which gays remain closeted, women and negroes remain servile, “religious” proprieties like public modesty and a relentlessly unwavering work ethic remain in force for the working poor and shrivelling middle-classes, and plenty of whores and cigars remain available for fat-assed fat-cat dullards and bullies to enjoy as they stoically contemplate whatever passes this year for the bottom-line, they exhibit indifference and even hostility to any number of traditions that manage to exceed the ambit of their rather dim, unadventurous imaginations.

As it happens, I often encourage Sedaris fans to direct their attention to the comedic genius of David’s sister Amy, and especially her radioactively incandescent series Strangers With Candy if they are looking for some for-real subversive comedy to noodle around with. And for those who act as though David’s NPR naughtiness is transformed by his bland homosexuality into some kind of sweeping critique of contemporary American hypocrisies a la Williams Burroughs, I encourage everyone to read instead (or at any rate additionally) the brilliant novels of Gary Indiana, whose sublime omnivorous queerness scalpels everything it touches, including himself, in a bloodbath that leaves you howling and a little shaky. (Resentment and Horse Crazy are his best novels, in my opinion.)

Anyway, this year NPR has seen fit to expurgate from the already vanilla-mild Santaland broadcast a potentially “offensive” minor bit involving flirtation among males. Here’s the passage (which I clipped from the ever-invaluable Atrios):
The overall cutest elf is a fellow from Queens named Snowball. Snowball tends to ham it up with the children, sometime literally tumbling down the path to Santa's house. I tend to frown on that sort of behavior but Snowball is hands down adorable -- you want to put him in your pocket. Yesterday we worked together as Santa Elves and I became excited when he started saying things like, "I'd follow you to Santa's house any day, Crumpet!"

It made me dizzy, this flirtation.

By mid-afternoon I was running into walls. At the end of our shift we were in the bathroom, changing clothes, when suddenly we were surrounded by three Santas and five other elves -- all of them were guys that Snowball was flirting with.

Snowball just leads elves on, elves and Santas. He is playing a dangerous game.

As Eric pointed out to me, it’s rather flabbergasting that NPR’s robotic executives haven’t “done the math” (isn’t that, you know, “at the end of the day,” what these executive types are supposed to be good at?) and thought through the possibility that the fifty million Americans who voted for Kerry are likely to throng among the dwindling listener base of NPR, and that, more to the point, any hayseed dumbass benighted enough to find the passage in question “offensive” in the first place, whether they had the sense to vote for Kerry or not, certainly wouldn’t be among NPR’s listeners?

I am not among the progressives who are demanding the boycott or dismantlement of NPR because of their recent timidity and tremulousness -– funny how well-meaning liberal types can always be counted upon to do the bidding of Repugnican barking dogs and attack first the very sites in culture in which their own supporters, however insipid scared and compromised they may be, are most likely to reside -– but I do think NPR should be badgered and humiliated forthwith into doing the right thing.

Clearly they are scared of their own shadows, and if they can be bullied by brainless death-mongering pre-moderns of the Repugnican persuasion from covering war atrocities in the newsroom or diversity in their cultural programming, then they can be bullied by the likes of us into doing the right thing just as easily.

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