A Chicago dad’s 2017 Krampus list

This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 6-year-old daughter Viva, who has no interest in being carted off to a Mitteleuropan hellscape.

It’s that time of year again, when we make our list of proposed victims of the Krampus. For those of you who aren’t cryptozoologists, fans of straight-to-Redbox horror movies or habitués of hipster greeting card stores, Krampus is a 2,000-year-old Alpine vengeance beast. He appears on Christmas in places like Austria, Bavaria, Croatia, Hungary and Piedmont, where he breaks into houses rattling chains and brandishing switches, then stuffs naughty children into a wicker basket to later eat, drown or escort to damnation. He’s like Santa Claus, but way more metal.

Santa is really the American spirit of Christmas. He’s overweight and swigs Coca-Cola, he brings consumer goods to your house, and if you’re bad, the worst you get is a lump of fossil fuel, because evidently the North Pole is like a frosty West Virginia where deluded provincials still hold out hope for that filthy industry. And really, who ever gets coal? Gen Z children are so used to peace sticks, sensory tables and junior mindfulness apps that anything shy of an iPhone X or a new drone for Christmas would have them sulking at their Minecraft for weeks. 

Krampus, though, Krampus comes from an older culture — a culture with freezing winters, tribal warfare and absurdly high juvenile mortality rates, where the core mythological creatures aren’t BB-8 or Moana, they’re cloven-hoofed incubi sent to dole out yuletide moral retribution. 

So, I’d like to conjure the Krampus to our profligate, moribund society, to lay a little Alpine karma on those who deserve to be jammed in a sack and later devoured more than they deserve a new Fingerlings monkey robot or an Orbeez Foot Spa under the tree. Who is on my list this year?

Bullies

Bullies! An easy target, right? Who likes ‘em? Kicking sand in our faces and stealing lunch money since the dawn of time. And yet, they haven’t gone away. We see them on the playground, we encounter them in the adult world, we watch them become president. Insecure, egotistical and mean-spirited, they mock and shove and throw ham on little southern kids. It’s not a matter of whether or not our kid will become embittered by mean kids at school, it’s a matter of when. And the nicer the kid we raise, the more appalled they’ll be when an emotionally unhealthy kid stuffs them in a locker — or whatever the modern equivalent is … photobombing their Facetime session or something. Krampus, come get these little goblins and throw ‘em in the basket.

Milkshake Ducks

Speaking of little southern kids getting ham thrown on them — have you heard the term “Milkshake Duck”? It’s a beautiful new term created by Australian cartoonist and popular Twitter comedian Ben @pixelatedboat Ward, and it means someone who becomes beloved overnight, usually because of social media, and then is discovered to be despicable. The original tweet: “The whole internet loves Milkshake Duck, a lovely duck that drinks milkshakes! *5 seconds later* We regret to inform you the duck is racist.” This happened YESTERDAY with a kid who shot to stardom on Twitter Sunday night because of a video of him crying over being bullied, and by mid-day Monday members of his immediate family were discovered to be Confederate flag-waving yahoos who are now alleged to have popularized his video for profit. We can’t have heroes, inspirational stories or nice things anymore, because a google search quickly finds a rancid slime trail beneath everyone we wish to admire. Krampus, come scrape up these Milkshake Ducks — they’re destroying our faith in humanity.

The Toxically Masculine

If there’s one through-line in most American social ills this year, it’s radioactive machismo. From the aforementioned bullies and racists, to the authoritarian politicians and their enablers and apologists, everybody wants to show how “tough” hey are. From warmongers and gun worshippers to those who would loosen environmental protections or give away net neutrality — it’s all about money, firepower, cruelty and alleged Darwinism. And now, of course, there’s the fact that every Congressman, actor, comedian and chef you can think of is revealed to be a serial groper, an exhibitionist or worse. What is it in our national character that makes us so attached to this mystique around two-fistedness and brutishness? Are we so enamored with frontier mythos like Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan and are so afraid of looking French that thinking is perceived as un-American? Why do so many people trust an Alabama Senate candidate who cruises Claire’s Boutique like it’s the swim-up bar at Hedonism II? We’ve got masculinity issues and I don’t just mean in men — our whole population (above a certain age, anyhow) is addicted to rage. Krampus, come tranquilize some gropers, trolls and robber barons, if you can.

The Elf on the Shelf

Boy, this little dude wore out his welcome harder than dabbing and unicorn foods put together. I mean, really, once you’ve Insta’d your elf with the obligatory Tony Montana machine guns and mountains of contraband, in a compromising situation in a grotto with other dolls or re-enacting the murders from “Se7en,” where else can you go? (Or maybe that was just me.) It’s weird having one Christmas myth turn on another, but I think Krampus needs to show the elf the real meaning of mischief. (Hint: cannibalism.)

Whoever invented Social Media

Well, I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and the like. I can’t say I’m not obsessed (maybe addicted) with social media, but it’s certainly ruined us all, hasn’t it? Our personalities, our politics, our day to day — we are all dopamine addicted narcissists now. Grubbing for “likes,” anxious, sleep-deprived, brainwashed and hyperpartisan. But, hey, at least I can see your totes adorbs forest-themed nursery and you can see the foods I have eaten (before I ate them). Zuckerberg, @jack, Snapchat Casper — you maniacs! You blew it up! One decade since the first iPhone was released and we’re living in a zombified, siloed, technocratic dystopia. Will our children be any better, or is it too late? Are they already on their way to careers as vloggers making “unboxing videos” — mining for clicks opening Hatchimals on YouTube as their souls fade away? Krampus, head to Silicon Valley and just grab the dudes who started all this. (And they’re all dudes … )

The cruel, the false, the boorish, the narcissistic … and stuffed elves — the five faces of December irritation in 2017. If you see a hairy, slathering, goat-legged demon ape leaping from roof to roof this Christmas, point that Krampus in the direction of any of those types.

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