December 25, 2022

Christmas songs and American ethnogenesis (open thread too)

It's striking how there has been no new American Christmas standard after 1994's "All I Want for Christmas Is You". It's the only standard to come from the '90s, and neither the 2000s nor the 2010s would produce a single new standard.

The '80s were a pretty wobbly decade for Christmas standards anyway -- "Do They Know It's Christmas" and "Last Christmas" from '84, and deep cut (although still played every year now) "Christmas Wrapping" from '81. And the big ones were both British, although under the American empire's influence by that point.

The '70s weren't too great either: "This Christmas" and "Feliz Navidad" from '70, barely outside of the '60s, "Wonderful Christmastime" from '79, and annoying gag song "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" also from '79.

The last decade to be packed with new Christmas standards was the '60s, from "Please Come Home for Christmas", "Do You Hear What I Hear?", "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year", "Little Saint Nick", and the several examples from children's TV specials -- "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas", "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch", "Christmas Time Is Here", and "Linus and Lucy".

American Christmas standards really start in the '30s, and continue through the '60s. This is the peak of American imperial ethnogenesis, when we were still defining our collective identity (and capable of expanding territorially, peaking in WWII). Anything that came after that is largely irrelevant, because our identity had already been forged. And anything before that was from a not-yet-mature stage of forging our identity.

So, for better or worse, most of our distinctly American Christmas music sounds like Midcentury American pop music. And very little of it is distinctly Christian -- it's more about the snow, gift-giving, and other wintertime secular rituals.

Why? Because America's process of forging its identity has always pointed away from its Old World roots, including Christianity in any form (Catholic, Protestant, etc.). Our founders were more Freemason than Christian. Like it or hate it, it's true. Evangelical Protestants and Catholics alike are most common back East, where America barely exists, and where Old World roots live on the strongest.

Heading westward has always defined the American experience and identity construction, as our primary meta-ethnic frontier was with the Indians on the other side. And out West, there are various strains of New Age American folk religion, but there is a brand new distinctly American sacred / supernatural kind of religion -- Mormonism (which had its own back East roots in Freemasonry).

I don't think that will replace Christianity until our empire is done collapsing, in the same way that Christianity didn't take root throughout the Roman Empire until it was collapsing in the 3rd century and afterward, although it originated during the height of Roman expansion in the 1st century.

And similarly, Christian culture barely existed during the 1st century or even 2nd -- that all came later as well. The same will be true of Mormon culture -- there won't be a new canon of Mormon Christmas songs until several centuries from now, when it has replaced Christianity in the former American Empire.

Although the Mid-20th-century songwriters could not tell what specific religion would replace the Old World religion of Christianity in America, they could still tell that Christianity would not survive here for long. Hence the need for a non-Christian canon of Christmas music, to mark us as a wholly separate, non-European ethnicity (in the anthro sense of a replicating cultural in-group -- not as a euphemism for "DNA race" as libtards and conservatards both now employ it).

And it's not merely a case of RETVRNING to our pre-Christian pagan European roots, as when we venerate trees, or whatever. Europeans may celebrate Christmas, and they may even incorporate pre-Christian elements. But our non-Christian elements are not very pre-Christian -- they are novel, and distinctly American, like elevating reindeer and snowmen to mythological status, even giving them proper names like Rudolph and Frosty. And adding new antagonists like the Grinch.

Santa (no longer called "Santa Claus") is distinctly American and novel as well. Father Christmas belongs to British imperial ethnogenesis (16th C), the Christkind (German imperial ethnogenesis, also in the 16th C) does not resemble Santa, and Sinterklaas from Dutch imperial ethnogenesis (early modern as well) only resembles Santa in being an old man gift-giver near the end of the year with a naughty-or-nice list (American Santa also lacks the accompanying character of Zwarte Piet).

The jolly fat old man with a white beard, red suit with white cuffs, who lives at the North Pole with Mrs. Claus (the only one to still regularly bear the "Claus" name), and oversees a workshop of helper elves to make or at least procure toys, riding a magical flying sleigh pulled by reindeer -- is a totally new American invention, from the 19th C., as we were expanding territorially.

These new members to the Christmastime cast of characters were driven into mass awareness through our distinctly American cultural products, like TV shows and pop music, not Christian hymns or pre-Christian European folk culture for that matter.

All of this reminds us that Americans are a distinct cultural group that underwent ethnogenesis in a totally different part of the world from the Early Modern European empires, although we began as an off-shoot of them, and were shaped by interactions with an "Other" who simply did not exist in the Old World. It's only natural that even surrounding a holiday that we supposedly have in common, like Christmas, our cultures will diverge widely.

December 14, 2022

Zoomers bringing back slang that intensifies emotion, not minimize it a la Millennials

During Mumei's "learning slang" stream last night, it struck me that one of the Millennials' key phrases -- "we did a thing" -- is another example of their annoying trend for emotional minimization.

Like, Gen X would say something is "totally fucking awesome" -- they intensified it with "totally," "to the max," "so," "for sure," etc.

Millennials would say something is "kind of amazing" -- they took away from the impact of "amazing" by saying it was only "kind of" amazing. They really meant full-on amazing, but their gay habit of minimizing all emotion prevents them from saying amazing or totally amazing or totally fucking amazing. They have to minimize it with kind of.

It wasn't until Mumei pointed out the contexts that the "we did a thing" phrase appears in, that it clicked into place for me. It's usually a really big deal -- a completely different hairstyle or hair color, getting engaged or married, etc.

They're trying to minimize the emotional impact of saying "We got married!!!" by turning a momentous event into merely "a thing" of no description or import. Of course, they mean it's a big deal, but their gay Millennial brains can't express emotion, so the biggest events of their whole lives become "a thing".

Have Millennial moms sunk to the low of posting their post-partum selfies, with the newborn in their arms, captioned, "so this morning i did a thing"?

They also preface the sentence with "so" as though it's a casual NBD situation, minimizing it further. (Gen-X "so" is an intensifying adjective or adverb, not an interjection -- "that new song is SO awesome!" or "I am SO gonna kick that guy's ass!")

And this relates to their lame and played-out trend of never using capital letters or punctuation or emojis -- doing so would indicate emotional tone of some sort within the words per se, as well as at a meta level, the writer cared enough to use capitalization and punctuation for the audience. It's mumblecore orthography.

"i couldnt possibly feel or care any less" is the message. So you're just an empty-inside depressive dork? Woah, mind blown, here's another trophy for your everybody-gets-a-trophy generation.

Good ol' Zoomers have started to give me hope about being neo-X-ers instead of Millennials 2.0. She pointed out that in the phrase "sending me", the speaker will often add on another bit like "sending me into orbit" -- that's an intensifier, not a minimizer! It's just like a bona fide Gen X example from the '80s that she discussed -- "gag me", which also could be followed by an intensifier like "gag me with a spoon".

Or, in the Gen X teen movie classic Heathers, "Fuck me gently with a chainsaw".

Mooms mentioned seeing Mean Girls several times (re: "fetch"), and that movie was inspired by Heathers. I had to pass this info along back in 2006 to my Millennial tutorees who were obsessed with Mean Girls but hadn't even heard of Heathers. Now I'm passing it on to Zoomers.

I think as neo-X-ers, Zoomers would resonate better with Heathers than Millennials did. The Zoomer girls from Hololive should do a watchalong! Gura, Mumei, Kronii, and Bae. Or at least watch it off-stream and gab about it together... or should I say, bump gums? Hehe.