Most people know the story of Santa. While there are many different versions, the gist of it is the night before Christmas, while children are sleeping, a fat man slips down the chimney to distribute gifts to boys and girls that have been good all year. The story was meant to bring hope and joy to children. It was a tale of giving and of love. However, as time goes on characters change, sometimes for better, and sometimes they take a turn for the worst.
Media has a huge impact on the influence of icons. Santa, being a very well known public figure can easily be manipulated through film, with different directors’ views of how the old man should be portrayed. The movies, typically made to bring joy during the holiday season, have very opposing views of Santa Claus ranging from the “jolly fat man,” to the “tatted sergeant.” These differences are clearly displayed in the films “Miracle on 34th Street,” “Bad Santa,” and “Rise of the Guardians.”
As children, we grew up hearing stories of this “merry-go-lucky” guy who gave gifts to good boys and girls once a year. George Seaton’s “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947) is an old holiday classic about a Macy’s mall Santa who restores a little girl’s belief in the existence of Santa Claus. The film gave it’s viewers a feeling of happiness and hope. Kris Kringle is the typical happy Santa that grants miracles to those who believe in him. The Santa represented in “Miracle on 34th street” is a wholesome, jolly old man that just wants people to believe in him. Kris Kringle depicted in “Miracle on 34th street” is a man to look up to. This is the Santa many of us have grown to know and love.
Unlike the merry holiday specials many are used to, Terry Zwigoff’s “Bad Santa” (2003) gives the normal Christmas values a run for their money. While “Miracle on 34th street” seems to be about family togetherness, and Christmas miracles, “Bad Santa” is about a selfish, greedy conman, with only his own interests in mind. A once loving giving man hits the big screen as a hateful thief. If that isn’t shocking, this might be, “Bad Santa” is a Christmas movie that is unsuitable for children. While Santa is usually cheerful, Willie, the mall Santa, is a drunken mess. This movie is a huge change in the idea that has surrounded Santa Claus for hundreds of years. From giver to drunk, there is no denying Santa’s story is changing across time.
A big change that has come to our iconic gift giver is the new ink we see in the Russian Santa of Peter Ramsey’s “Rise of the Guardians” (2012). Tattoos have become a huge fad in today’s society. Many teens and young adults have...