A quick line in actor Tim Allen’s new Disney+ series “The Santa Clauses” is reportedly drawing the ire of some internet critics.
The 69-year-old star, reprising his role as Scott Calvin in the new series after previously starring in three “The Santa Clause” films from 1994 through 2006, is no stranger to debate. He’s an outspoken conservative and has had no problem sharing his views over the years.
As evidence: the actor has slammed “thought police” for ruining comedy — and his former show “Last Man Standing” was at the center of controversy after ABC canceled it, a decision some felt was political in nature.
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Now, there’s a new supposed fuss over “The Santa Clauses.”
As NME noted, the moment in question happens when Allen’s character is asked what’s bothering him. Santa responds, “Saying Merry Christmas to all has suddenly become problematic!”
Perhaps the line hit too close to home when it comes to the real-life debate over Christmas, because the dialogue immediately caused a Twitter “uproar,” according to The Daily Mail.
Filmmaker Scott Weinberg called out the inclusion of the line, tweeting about how he found it strange to include it in a kids’ series.
it just struck me as a truly weird thing to put in a kid's series. "<someone> wants to stop us from saying Merry Christmas!" is not some random campaign. it's a low-key effort to vilify anyone who doesn't celebrate this holiday. in a grown-up movie I'd just groan and ignore it.
— Scott Weinberg (@scottEmovienerd) November 17, 2022
“It just struck me as a truly weird thing to put in a kid’s series,” he wrote. “‘[Someone] wants to stop us from saying Merry Christmas!’ is not some random campaign. It’s a low-key effort to vilify anyone who doesn’t celebrate this holiday. In a grown-up movie I’d just groan and ignore it.”
Another user named @DannyDangerOz said he’s a professional Santa and pushed back against the supposed narrative created by the joke.
“As a professional Santa I know that’s bull. Biggest problem is [right-wing] pundits claiming things like ‘Merry Christmas,’ decorations, and songs are being banned,” he wrote. “I spend a chunk of my time as a Santa calming down old folks who believe Christmas is being taken from them. It’s cruel.”
Others joined in on this chorus, seemingly seeing an issue with the fact the faux Santa character was mirroring something they believed Allen would say in real life.
Regardless of whether that’s true, the series is clearly fictitious and centered on a conjured-up world; the reality is: This was a mere joke.
With the series nowhere near fully released, there’s no definitive understanding of what the line means or why it was added to the storyline, yet that hasn’t tempered the controversy.
Despite the overarching ambiguity, show creator Jack Burditt shed some light in an interview with Deadline. He answered affirmatively when asked if he and the writers went back and forth on the decision to include the “Merry Christmas” line.
“This is something that I just think is silly, but then I’m like, I don’t know … I mean, look, we also had a joke at one point where Santa is on his rounds, they’re going in for a landing, and somebody’s shooting something up at him,” Burditt said. “And Noel the elf [who rides with Santa], says something like, ‘A war on Christmas!’ I’m like, yeah, I don’t wanna go that far.”
So, it seems the quip was, at the least, intentional. One writer for the Decider called the joke “lazy” and “inaccurate” to add just one more of the reactions.
There’s another moment in the show’s premiere episodes that sparked some attention: when the elves began to question whether a “naughty or nice” list was appropriate to use in light of current cultural trends. Burditt commented on that as well.
“Part of what we were trying to figure out was if we were picking up this series 16 years after everyone last left it, things have changed in the world, and we should be talking about it,” he said. “The naughty and nice list would probably be looked at differently this time around versus when everything was black and white.”
The War on Christmas tends to rile people on both sides of the divide, so it’s not entirely surprising the joke has gotten under some viewers’ skin.
That said, waiting until one has the whole picture to respond is always better. And to keep in mind when something is a joke versus a massive cultural proclamation.
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