Political Correctness hits the Big Fat Man


Where do they find these people? The Age runs a story (“Santa’s image is a big ho ho no“) on a local academic slamming Father Christmas for not living the healthy lifestyle! Dr Grills (who seem to want to put us all under the grill and on the treadmill this Christmas):

Santa Claus should swap the brandy and mince pies for carrot sticks and start jogging to children’s homes instead of drink-driving his sleigh, a public health expert says.

Dr Nathan Grills, a fellow at Monash University’s Department of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine yesterday accused Santa of promoting obesity, smoking, drink-driving and other dangerous activities, and said his increasing popularity should be used to encourage healthy living instead.

After conducting a literature review of Santa’s links to public health, Dr Grills said Santa often appeared fat, sedentary, drunk and smoking a pipe when more responsible imagery would depict him running on a treadmill with a badge proudly declaring he had quit smoking.

Writing in a special Christmas edition of the British Medical Journal, Dr Grills said that among other things, traditional images of Santa sent a message that obesity was synonymous with cheerfulness and joviality… Dr Grills said he was also concerned about Santa’s “roof surfing”, “chimney jumping”, disregard for road rules and tendency to drink-drive and speed. “Despite the risks of high-speed air travel, Santa is never depicted wearing a seat belt or helmet,” he said…

“The potential for Santa in his asymptomatic phase to propagate an infectious disease is clear,” he said.

My girls had a laugh about the “smoking a pipe” bit! (Actually, you don’t see may pipe-smoking Santa’s any more – and certainly no cigarette smoking Santas).

Still, it sounds like this guy deserves, I think, a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Present. It worked wonders for Scrooge.
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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Political Correctness hits the Big Fat Man

  1. Peregrinus

    Dr Grills concluded that “Santa studies” was a developing field of public health and that there was a disappointing lack of rigorous research on the topic.

    Um, did the possibility that this might be a joke not cross your mind at all?

    • Well, I wondered that, but checked the date and it wasn’t April 1st…

      So a bit of a web search:

      Dr Grills is at least a real person – and he sounds like a great chap: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/01/11/1073769452477.html?from=storyrhs

      But I also found this:

      “On Dec 16, an Associated Press article reported a “light-hearted” study conducted by Australian Nathan Grills of Monash University, which was published in the online Christmas edition of the British Medical Journal. Grills’ conclusion: Santa Claus is a public health menace.” http://newsbusters.org/people/nathan-grills

      So it seems that the Associated Press article is true enough, but that the “joke” was the original article in the British Medical Journal.

      Those medicos. Such a laugh.

      • Peregrinus

        Sure. The joke was the incongruous printing of the article in the BMJ, a peer-reviewed journal of research whictakes itself pretty seriously.

        Though the real joke, perhaps, is that anybody could for think for even a millisecond that an article in an academic journal which deplored the “disappointing lack of rigorous research” in the field of “santa studies” might not be a gag.

        You know all that guff which comes from the cultural right in the US about the ubiquity of political correctness and the fascist tyranny of postmodern deconstruction? You do realise you’re not supposed to take that seriously, don’t you?

        • Tom

          I honestly thought he was some chump who was jumped up enough on his own sense of self-importance to start thinking that images like Santa needed to be reworked to fit in with modern ideas of health.

          The problem is, as Schutz said, for the last decade we have had to endure people suggesting things that seemed ludicrous at the time, yet turned out to be serious.

          Turns out, when hard-left PC nutters have enough influence for long enough, you lose your sense of humour…

          • Peregrinus

            Or, to put it another way, for the last decade or so you’ve had an endless stream of stories from the cultural right, alleging that, e.g., UK local governments want to rename Christimas as “winterval”, or that a child was expelled from a US school and committed to an asylum for drawing a crucifix, or whatever. On examination, these stories usually turn out to be either grossly distorted exaggerations, or occuasionally simple fabrications, but they don’t get examined. They just get endlessly circulated by those to whom they appeal.

            Take them seriously, though, and you end up unable to distinguish parody from real life. And when you find yourself in that position, you have to admit the possibility that the perspective from which you’re viewing things may not be a very reliable one.

            Non-specific festive greetings and culturally appropriate sentiments to one and all!

  2. That’s the problem these days. It is like the boy who cried “wolf” – there are so many crazy “experts” out there pushing ideas that would have seemed a
    joke a few decades ago that it is hard to know when they really are joking!