Photo courtesy of MCT
It does not take a philosopher to argue that Christmas as a holiday represents the commercial identity of the American people. There is one holiday that trumps even Christmas for its commercial fanfare, however. When it comes to our corporate culture, New Year’s takes the fruitcake.
At its core, at least Christmas has some purpose. When you remove the loan you took out to buy gifts, the thousands of blinking Christmas lights and Mariah Carey, Christmas is actually a religious holiday (something to do with the birth of Jesus). New Year’s marks the beginning of a new year, true, but why this merits a party is questionable.
Just take a look at the capitol of New Year’s festivities: Times Square in New York City. During my stay in New York last year, my group and I decided to walk to the square as it was close to the hotel. I was mesmerized not because of any innate beauty, but because that’s what happens when so many electric advertisements are placed in one area. It was like watching “Blade Runner.” One Times Square, the most recognizable, is a 395-foot monument to commercials.
The coverage of the New Year’s festivities is almost as gaudy as the square itself. Fox is the heavy hitter, drawing viewers to see Ryan Seacrest and Dick Clark narrate the night’s events.
There are “The Far Side” comic strips from the mid ‘80s that poke fun at the chemical alteration that keeps Clark looking young. I’m sure the comics were funny then, but they are hilarious now that it’s 25 years later and they still ring true. Seacrest is Fox’s ace because his name on a program makes it a show that young people will watch, regardless how desperate the rest of the show is. And the Fox New Year’s festivities are desperate.
New Kids on the Block , the Backstreet Boys and Ke$ha were the musical entertainment. New Kids and the Backstreet Boys would’ve been a noteworthy act during the ‘90s. Right now, their best hopes at resurgence are in Las Vegas night shows. Ke$ha was the relevant performer, but the network still stooped pretty low to get her. Surely they could have found someone who succeeded in 2010 that doesn’t have a kindergartner’s grasp on melody.
When asked what her resolution for 2011 was, Ke$ha ironically said “not become a douchebag,” thereby proving my point. New Year’s is not a time for taste; it’s a time for what’s popular.
Fox and Ke$ha weren’t the only ones thriving on the tastelessness required to slake the alcohol-inspired desire for shameless entertainment. Party stores were packed with those buying gaudy hats and other props, and the U.S. Champagne Bureau said that three times as many bottles of champagne were sold in December than any other month. The most popular brand: A $5.99 bottle of Andre Brut, the Natty Light of champagne. Behind alcohol, the biggest commodity was single people, to fill the demand for someone to snog at midnight. The amount of people wearing “free kisses” apparel during New Year’s must be encouraging to oral hygienists.
As usual, most of this rant is attributable to my cynicism. But the commercialism of holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving are enough. I don’t care for a holiday that was made just to be commercial.