Last week, the hub and I were wrapping Christmas presents and trying to find something to watch on Instant Netflix. We’re going through Breaking Bad withdrawal and so we were thumbing through the Netflix menu, tweaking like a couple of crackheads, trying to find anything that would take our minds off the mind-blowing season 3 finale we had just witnessed. Trying to get our minds off of meth and into the spirit of the Holiday, we found some old Christmas cartoons from the 1930s — the very compilation my brothers and I used to watch when we were kids. What a treat! I thought. What a fun memory! When June is older, we can watch these Christmas classics together. What a great new family tradition. Pleased with myself, I pressed play.
What I then witnessed were some of the most offensive and tasteless cartoons in the history of cinema. And I’m gonna break it down for y’all.
Let’s start with this treasure:
You know it’s going to be good when it opens on an orphanage.
The basic premise is this – there’s a bunch of little kids (girls, I think, but it’s kind of ambiguous) in a dilapidated orphanage and they wake up on Christmas morning. Overjoyed at the promise of presents, the gender-bending orphans leap out of bed and dance around the room, singing jubilantly about Santa Claus. How sweet!
The first disturbing thing about this video is that there is no parental presence at all. Obviously they’re orphans, but there’s no headmaster or any kind of authority figure whatsoever. The place is clearly run by children, who are just dancing around and tearing their stockings off the walls, and you get a definite Lord of the Flies vibe. There’s also a baby running around and tripping over her distressingly long nightgown. One of the kids is probably nursing this baby, for all we know. So the kids grab their stockings and unwrap their presents, and while this is happening you have this ominous feeling that something terrible is about to occur. And it does.
One by one, each child’s sole Christmas gift breaks, falls apart, or is otherwise damaged beyond repair. There is a full thirty-second montage of orphans enjoying their presents and then sobbing miserably when they are destroyed by their own enthusiasm. In the most heartbreaking scene you’ll ever see in your life, (fast forward to 2:13 if you want your spirit to be forever wounded) one of the orphans hugs her teddy bear so hard the stuffing falls out and her toy is reduced to a formless lump of skin. She kills her toy. SHE KILLS IT WITH HER LOVE.
As if that weren’t bad enough, the director of this piece thought it would be a good idea to pan around the room and show all of the orphans wailing in tandem, clutching their broken presents, their battered Christmas tree drooped over in the background. I can’t find a screencap of the image, but it’s reminiscent of the scene in Gone with the Wind where the Union invades Atlanta and Scarlett is trying to find Doctor Meade amidst the devastation. The director zooms out and, at once, the fall of the South is apparent.
|Merry Christmas, kids!|
I’m not sure what to take away from this initially — that Santa is a giant, orphan-hating dick? That he purposefully gave them the shittiest presents ever? Or maybe Santa just skips over orphans on Christmas, as punishment for being poor.
|Try not to be so poor next year, kid.|
So far, Christmas is a disaster and Santa hates orphans. How can this cartoon possibly redeem itself?
Grampy is an inventor and a professor, as evidenced by the sign on the side of his stagecoach. I’m pretty sure Grampy is a “professor” in the same way that Dr. Mary from Frasier had a doctorate from the School of Hard Knocks. Grampy rides around town in a stagecoach and sings about Christmas, as professors do, and during his ride he overhears the cacophony of wailing orphans. What the eff? thinks Grampy, and he pulls over at the Oprhanage to have a look. He peeks in and sees the kids — still wailing, except now they are trudging slowly back to bed and pulling the covers over their heads to cry separately. Seriously.
Grampy might be a lunatic, but he’s not heartless. He sees the crying orphans and he just can’t abide. So he puts on his thinking cap and has a fantastic idea…an idea that involves a B&E.
|Hide yo kids, hide yo wife|
Most people would knock and enter someone’s home through the front door. Not Grampy! Grampy breaks right the fuck in, laughing maniacally the entire time. And it’s not creepy at all, because he’s whimsical. Again — where are the parents? Oh right, they’re orphans.
Anyway, Grampy breaks in and proceeds to upturn every shelf in the kitchen. He empties all the cupboards and drawers and puts all the silverware and plates and kitchen appliances in the center of the room in a big Hoarders-style pile. Grampy is completely oblivious to the fact that if the children were to walk in the kitchen and find a hysterically-laughing stranger in there, they would probably be rightfully upset. Thankfully, the kids are all crying too hard to even notice Grampy at all.
So Grampy continues to wreck the kitchen and the children are still crying in their beds. Then, systematically, he breaks every single one of their posessions and remakes it into a toy. While it’s oddly sweet that Grampy takes the time to make them presents, and as a viewer you’re starting to feel relieved that the kids will get some Christmas toys they’ve so wrongfully been deprived of, I’d like to remind you that these kids are poor as shit. And some psycho just broke in their house and destroyed all the things they need for their livelihood – like their washing board. And their dishes. And their sewing machine. And their clothes.
|The hell is that?|
As the pièce de résistance in his spectacular Christmas felony, Grampy impersonates Santa Claus. You know, the man who couldn’t be bothered to leave them nice presents to begin with. In a fit of emotion, Grampy even rips off part of their ceiling to make himself boots and forces his hand through a thick blanket to fashion himself a coat. (Orphans don’t need blankets, right?) With this gesture, his fraud is complete. Santa’s back, kids. And now you have no silverware.
|Blanket, you say? NOT ANYMORE! Santa needs a coat!|
Ultimately, the children stumble out of bed, see their new presents, and go absolutely apeshit. They ride around on their new toys and then dance ritualistically around their new makeshift Christmas tree, and the cartoon ends on a joyous note. I bet it’ll be totally awkward the next day when they realize that Santa not only is the neighborhood lunatic, but he broke in their house and destroyed everything they own, but that’s neither here nor there. For now, Christmas has been saved. The spirit of Santa will live on. Or should I say, the spirit of Grampy.
Creepiest. Christmas. Ever.