This past Saturday evening, I wandered the streets of Manhattan, taking the scenic route on my way to Midtown Comics. Along the way, I encountered the yearly barrage of Santa suits that is SantaCon.
Traditionally, I associate the annual holiday shitshow with the kind of harmless hipsterism that spawns fun events like the Grilled Cheese Invitational and the old McCarren Park Pool Parties. Just subversive enough to be interesting, just popular enough to attract douchebags. But SantaCon, powered by such a potent meme as Santa, was clearly destined to grow into something bigger.
Gothamist, who boosted the event for years have now turned on it, presenting a catalog of some of the most egregious misbehavior on the part of Santa’s Little Douchebags. This year’s hit list included pushing a disabled man to the ground, minature puke fountains, falling into children on the train and other needless shenanigans.
DJ Pangburn at Death & Taxes takes the long view, looking at the subcultural roots of SantaCon in the anarchist and situationist street theater of San Francisco and tracing its growth and mainstreaming, until its current status as a Bro magnet. Pangburn presents a fascinating look at the history of the event, asking whether or not it matters that the current iteration of the event is so different from its original inception or if maybe that was the point all along.
Personally, I’m disappointed. But that’s not too much of a surprise. My baseline expectations for most people tend to lean towards the idiotic, so it stands to reason that the more people who participate in an event, the dumber it will grow. Especially when that event involves lots and lots of drinking. Hell, it’s not just me there, science backs me up.
Every scene, every party has a time limit. The clock counts down to the point at which its time to move on to something else. Unless you’re a goth, in which case you flog that dead horse decades after the last exciting developments in your scene/genre (I love my goth friends but you all know it’s true). SantaCon has always had some backlash, but the volume of it coming from those who once supported it makes me think that the clock is counting down towards zero hour for Santa.
Maybe next year we’ll see a counter event? Now that the bros own Santa, maybe it’s time for the hispters to own the image of the Bro? Perhaps we’ll see hipsters dressed in brotastic Ed Hardy gear, handing out Toys for Tots or feeding the hungry. BroFest? DoucheCon? We’ve got a year, give it some thought.