Is Santa a Jerk?


Best of DC Digest #22: Christmas with the Superheroes (1982)

Best of DC Digest #22: Christmas with the Superheroes (1982)

I have nothing but respect for the Jolly Old Elf! I would never say anything to besmirch the good name of Claus. But sometimes, they way they portray him in the movies and holiday specials (and even comics!), he comes off just rude! See if you agree…

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I offer to you the following evidence. Three small examples of how one Mr. Kris Kringle, AKA Santa Claus, has exhibited acts of snobbery, rudeness and just plain jerky behavior…

  • Exhibit A: Elf (2003)
    In the movie Elf, when Buddy finds Santa in Central Park, Santa doesn’t realize at first who he is. Santa comes at buddy, wielding a tire iron, exclaiming, “Back off, slick!” It seems to me, that a nice Santa might greet a stranger with a jolly “Ho ho ho,” or perhaps, “Merry Christmas!” But no, Santa is portrayed as feisty and tough. Just what you’d expect from a man who brings gifts to children each year. Or at least his personal trainer.


  • Exhibit B: Frosty the Snowman (1969)
    Santa stumbles upon Karen and Frosty in the middle of a snowy forest where they have stopped on their journey to the North Pole on Christmas Eve. Santa gives Karen a ride back to her home. But instead of dropping her off somewhere convenient, he leaves her stranded on her roof! What is he thinking? How does she get down? Her parents didn’t even know she was gone; they certainly wouldn’t be searching for her on the roof of their house! And that steep inclined surface is covered with slippery snow. Dangerous for an elementary school girl!


  • Exhibit C: Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
    After this exhibit, there should be no doubt whatsoever that Hollywood views Santa Claus as an obnoxious jerk. When Santa finds that Rudolph’s shiny nose hasn’t gone away, he tells Donner, Rudolph’s father, “You should be ashamed of yourself!” Later in the picture, the elves want to perform a song for their boss. He begins by telling them, “Well, let’s get this over with,” and ends with him telling them, “Hmm. Well, it needs work. I have to go.” Then he walks out!

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Three different examples from three different mediums of Santa being portrayed as a jerk (4 examples from 4 different mediums including the comic at the top!). Is it true? Have we had Santa wrong all these years? I’d like to think not. I’m really hoping that Santa was shown in this light for other reasons, like in the case of Rudolph, because it’s hilarious! I laugh every time Santa’s on screen! Easily one of the reason that special as so much rewatchability! Perhaps we will never know for sure the real demeanor of Santa. Maybe he’s more like Mary Poppins, strict but lovable. It will have to remain one of life’s great mysteries…

What are your thoughts on Santa’s portrayal in the movies? Kind or mean? Lemme know below!


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