Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pseudo Santa

Today I need to take a look at the most important issue I’ve discussed this week: Auckland’s Santa.

I was in the Auckland CBD today, and I had to take a look at the recently refurbished Santa at the corner of Queen and Victoria Streets (photo above). He was the recipient of a $200,000 make-over, which he was probably due for: He’s 49 years old. He made his debut on the old Farmer’s Department Store in Hobson Street (now a Heritage Hotel, in the photo at the bottom of this post) in 1960. This year for the first time he was joined by 14.5 metre high replicas of the reindeer that joined him a half century ago.

Old Santa was very different. The index finger on his right hand moved, beckoning shoppers into the store. His right eye also winked. By last year, the finger and the eye were a bit wonky and the whole effect was kind of creepy. In fact, many people (me included) called him “Paedophile Santa”. Yep, he was really that creepy. And yet, that was part of his “charm”, for lack of a better word.

New Santa is so different that I call him “Pseudo Santa”: The finger no longer beckons, the eye no longer winks. Sure, the new Santa is far cheerier than the old one—the colours are brighter, the face is friendlier and he’s decidedly not creepy. But he’s also not the old Santa.

Things are as they are, and so is Santa. We will adapt. Just don’t try to convince me it’s the same Santa.

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