[I know Christmas is already in the rear view mirror, but those things are indeed larger than they appear. Thus one more visit to a ripe subject matter.]
There are three “bad guys” in the pop culture version of Christmas.† All have somehow been reformed through no actions of their own. No, by staying exactly as they have always been, they have moved into the “good guy” column by sole virtue of shifting of social mores.
Scrooge is the prototype for the Christmas villain. All others merely pay homage to this consummate creep. His name has even become a synonym for any mean-spirited, stingy character.
But what is his crime? He is a shrewd businessman, simply trying to live by the same principals as any typical corporate CEO of today. He wisely keeps wages and costs low. For example, when old Marley died, he didn’t backfill his position. Instead, he spared the bottom line by asking Cratchit to step it up, work smarter, not harder. If Cratchit sees himself as mistreated, Scrooge can always remind him that he is lucky to have a position in such a bad economy.
When meddling do-gooders try to make him part with some of his hard earned profits, Scrooge responds that, “It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly.” For more on the defamation that poor Mr. Scrooge must endure, see my Christmas post from last year. (Much of this post is taken from that one. Sorry, but it bears repeating.)
Poor Mr. Potter. The slander he has braved over the years is more than most people could withstand. The fact that he has not avenged his name for this defamation of his character speaks volumes about his true nature of good will toward his fellow man. But he is, first and foremost, a businessman of the highest order.
He fights back against the liberal weenies who would undercut the fiscal strength of the building and loan by refusing to foreclose on slackers who can’t keep up with their mortgages. Check out this exchange:
Mr. Potter: Have you put any real pressure on these people of yours to pay those mortgages?
Mr. Bailey: Times are bad, Mr. Potter. A lot of these people are out of work.
Mr. Potter: Then foreclose!
Mr. Bailey: I can’t do that. These families have children.
Mr. Potter: They’re not my children.
Mr. Bailey: But they’re somebody’s children, Mr. Potter.
Mr. Potter: Are you running a business or a charity ward? Not with my money.
Mr. Potter is a role model for today’s financial managers. (I did, in fact, hear that last statement almost verbatim from a corporate executive.) Mr. Bailey gets all the props, but Potter’s assessment of him is correct by today’s standards. He’s a miserable failure, completely out of touch with modern sensibilities.
Finally, the most despicable, wretched miscreant of them all. One who I would have thought could never reinvent himself:
You’re probably saying, “No way!” After all, “Grinch” is now a byword, an epithet in itself. It will always be so, right? Really? What was his aim, his goal, even his obsession? To do away with all things Christmas. Who could argue that he is well on his to achieving that objective? Note how few people say, “Merry Christmas.” It’s all Season’s Greetings (which could actually refer to any season) and Happy Holidays (which one?). I even hear people say “Happy Holiday”; the singular can only mean Christmas. Come on.
Yes, the Grinch has gone underground. He’s getting his job done through political correctness, corporate timidity, and what I deem a completely unfounded view that many people are offended by others’ beliefs. (If you really are offended by them, shame on you.)
There you have it, the treacherous trinity of trouble at Christmas, the heinous horde of holiday humbug, the nasty ne’er-do-wells of Noel. All fitting in nicely with contemporary culture. They are no longer enemies; they are the darlings of Wall Street and censors. And we follow along in lock step.
If we have anything bad to say about any of them, we better look in the mirror first. Or we might find ourselves receiving uninvited guests in the night.
†The original Christmas villain, Herod, remains yet to be rehabilitated. Let’s hope that never happens.