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Let's have the Morrinsville Mega Cow as Santa this year!

They say Christmas is the silly season - and so far the New Zealand festivities in 2018 are living up to this reputation. They have been the silliest, most racist, most speciesist and sexist of all.

To begin all the silliness, Santa got sacked from the Auckland Santa parade. He got booted out.

Apparently, the #MeToo era caused Santa to blow a gasket and lose his rag. For five years Neville Baker, director of My Santa, has been playing Santa on the main float in the Auckland Santa Parade.

Baker’s status as the Santa in the Auckland Santa Parade was in jeopardy for stating that he would not recruit women for the Santa role. They should, instead, be cast as ‘Santa’s Helpers’ in a “little skirt and top” (Baker’s words).

If Santa was Scottish (his ethnicity is up for grabs in the 2018 season as we will soon see) then I might just tell him to shut his potatoe trap, and give his red rag a holiday. And I’m talking about his tongue, as well as his suit.

The parade organizers were concerned that Baker’s stance on woman did not reflect family values.

Perhaps they were right. Santa gets to dress up, his dignity and self-worth firmly intact in his red suit. Whereas women, apparently, should be helpers of Santa and not the main event. In the process of helping they should wear very little.

That sounds like a recipe for a few more #MeToo’s appearing on social media.

So Santa was turfed from his throne, but in the next breath he was re-instated, and went on to represent Santa in the 2018 Auckland Santa Parade after all.

In my view he should have remained booted out. He should have hung up his black boots and slung his sack over his hefty shoulder and gone to the icy pole where he belongs. Because he most definitely does not belong in 2018.

In 2018 we should not tolerate such blatant gender stereotyping and sexualisation of women. It is #NotOk

Many people seemed to miss the point. It wasn’t that “Santa has always been a male and so should always be a male” that is most upsetting. The main problem is the way that Baker (aka Santa) suggested that the role of women should be as male sidekicks who need to look like sex toys.

Anyway, I am pleased Santa’s gender is being discussed. It gets it all out in the open, he can’t hide beneath his red suit anymore. We can finally acknowledge the difficult reality that Santa is only a figment of our imagination.

He can be whatever we want him to be. And I believe it’s time he got a makeover.

Santa is not a reality (sorry folks, Santa is not real). Santa is an idea, a fantasy, an illusion, a story. He is just a story we tell ourselves and over time stories can (and should) change to reflect social values.

In fact, Santa does not even need to be a human. Consider this – we could have a giant turkey Santa to speak out for the 50 million turkeys eaten in the UK and US alone on December 25. New Zealanders go through 690 000 servings of turkey at Christmas. They should have a voice.

I’m not being flippant here. I am deadly serious – a non speciesist Turkey Santa would be my Santa of choice this Christmas.

Millions upon millions of animals are killed in the name of the Christmas festivities each year and still we chow down the ham with ruthless abandon. Seems like a celebration of violence and blood shed to me.

Countdown has just released the favourite foods of New Zealanders at Christmas. They will eat 24 milk tankers of cream and 1.3 million litres of ice cream. And you know where that cream and ice cream comes from? The milk of a cow whose calf was taken from her and possibly killed (among 2 million others) just so we can have cream on pavlova at Christmas.

I’m not trying to be a kill-joy here. I am just trying to keep it real. #letskeepitreal #christmasviolence #whodiedforyourmeal

I have even considered high jacking the Morrinsville mega cow statue and putting it on a Christmas float as Santa. Think of it. We could put four black gumboots on her hooves and wrap tinsel around her udder, which could be squirting cream for the watching crowds. She could yell, “moo, moo, moo” instead of “ho,ho,ho” and everyone would be happy.

#butwait A cow is a girl and Santa is a boy. Let’s change that up a bit.

If we are debating Santa’s species membership, let’s also have a go at their gender (personal pronouns such as he/she are binary and sexist.).Santa can be gender fluid. #WhyNot? The possibilities are limitless. A gender fluid Santa is much more inclusive in my book.

And New Zealand Christmas is not just speciesist and sexist it is also racist. The Black Petes started appearing on Santa floats with their racist connotations. Using characters that are imbued with negative stereotypes directed at marginalized groups is #NotAcceptable. I am surprised I even need to make this point.

Black Pete may be a Dutch tradition, but it is a racist tradition. The idea is that the white Santa Claus is a benevolent present - giving male saint, and Black Petes are bad. Black Petes are scary characters, another one of ‘Santa’s helpers’ in the Dutch tradition. Black Pete was Santa’s slave who gave lumps of coal to naughty children.

Black people have been persecuted by white folk for years. Do we really need to play out this pantomime on New Zealand streets, reinforcing that black people are scary? It is #NotOK

But the Nelson Santa Parade capped everything. They had a resplendent Maori Santa with a korowai. I was quite impressed actually, but the social media feeding frenzy that ensued reminded me how sadly racist New Zealand really is.

All Blacks star Nehe Milner-Skudder nailed it when he said Maori don’t need to assimilate to Pakeha traditions. Never a truer word.

But that is not why many people got riled up. The main catch cry was: “Won’t you think of the children?” Tales of crying, traumatized children, who came to the Santa show to see a white bearded man littered social media and news sites.

I have a message for these folk. Please stop deflecting your racist fury onto your children. Children learn from the adults around them. The mass hysteria did not come from them – it came from rigid, pakeha people incensed that their traditions were being trodden all over. It hurts when the shoe is on the other foot.

The Santa Saga 2018 in New Zealand does not tell a pretty picture. In fact it reveals our ugliness.

New Zealand needs to grow up fast and become more 2018. Worrying about Santa’s gender and ethnicity is the least of our worries. The icy poles are melting and I for one hope that the male white bearded Santa goes down with them.

I’m all for having the Morrinsville mega cow as Santa this year. She might get stuck down the chimney, and get soot on her coat, but at least she will serve as a reminder of the millions of calves who have died for your Christmas cream this year.

Have a very merry gender fluid, non-racist, non-speciesist and non-sexist Christmas!

Koa Kirihimete


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