In popular culture, there is never a shortage of truly bad, odd or off-the-wall examples of nearly anything you can think of. And with the Christmas season fast approaching, I thought why not look at the truly bizarre offerings that pop culture has offered us at this time of the year? Because nothing says "Christmas" better than things that make you scratch your head and go: "What the...?"
In no particular order:
1. Popular Song Oh, where to start? How many truly awful pop songs about Christmas have we endured over the years? And how many genuinely strange ones? But there is one oddity, from the 1950s, sung by 9 year old The Sensational Little Shana Lynette, that says everything you need to know about that time period and the fact that anyone will use Christmas for anything. 'Mr. Russian, Please Don't Shoot Down Santa's Sleigh'. And it's exactly what it says on the tin.
2. Star Wars You just knew this was going to be here, didn't you? The infamous 1978 Star Wars Christmas Special, featuring nothing spoken in English for the first 20 minutes, a four-armed chef teaching a wookie how to cook, cartoon Star Wars, a singing Princess Leia, and all manner of other... stuff. This is bad on so many levels, but because it was immediately pulled as soon as it was aired and is no longer in-canon for the Star Wars Universe, it has developed something of a cult standing. It is definitely one of those things that you watch because it fascinates in its bizarreness.
3. Professional Wrestling Of course professional wrestling did things with Christmas! And we're not just talking about the Christmas Monster from the old Memphis territory. We're talking about WWE (formerly WWF), the big time, and their creation: Xanta Claus, Santa's evil wrestling brother who lives in the South Pole and takes presents from the kids. You see, the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase brought him out to... to do something, and he went on to have a few matches and then (thankfully) disappeared. But at his first appearance, commentator Vince McMahon made it sound like he never knew Santa wasn't real, adding to the surrealism of the whole concept.
4. Books Again, how many bad Christmas books are out there? Too many. But this is not about the bad, it's about the bizarre, and nothing gets much more bizarre than Scared of Santa: Scenes of Terror in Toyland by Denise Joyce and Nancy Watkins (2008). It is a collection of photographs of children terrified at meeting department store (and other) Santa Clauses. Again, this is not bad, but page after page of absolutely terrified children with men in costumes who have no idea what's happening is actually rather disturbing.
5. Cartoons Again, how many strange and bizarre cartoons have capitalised on Christmas? From the quite good ones (A Charlie Brown Christmas and Chuck Jones' version of The Grinch That Stole Christmas) to the really awful (Christmas Comes To Pac-Land), there are a lot out there. But for bizarre, you would be hard-pressed to go past He-Man And She-Ra - A Christmas Special (1987). Set on a planet that doesn't have Christmas, they rename the holiday, but still go along with the whole Christmas theme, but involving Prince Adam as He-Man and Skeletor and it's all a mess and I don't know how many times I've watched it, and it still doesn't make a lick of sense.
So, there you have it. An idea of Christmas films can be found elsewhere, but for Christmas meets pop culture and there being something of a clash, you would be hard-pressed to find anything more bizarre than these.