Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ideology of Valentines Day

Natalie got a note from school mandating that everybody make Valentines for everybody else, which stated: "Valentine cards do not have to be purchased; in fact, homemade cards seems to mean more to the children. They very much enjoy making and giving things to their friends." If they enjoy so much, you'd think there'd be no need to put forth a rule that they do so.

I kind of bridle at this dictum. Is it the role of the school to transmit this kind of ideology? I dunno. Some think the school system should be a prime purveyor of "values," and to a certain extent it should. But this low level anti-commercialist, craftsy stuff, however much I may agree with it, doesn't seem what schools should be concentrating on.

It reminds me of the recent PBS special after the death of Charles Schultz. When the Charlie Brown Xmas special first aired, it was a tremendous success, a TV history watershed, as it launched a broadside at the commercialization of Xmas and the holiday's loss of authenticity. And it remains a perennial favorite, my kids love it, I love it, the music is deeply ingrained in the Yuletide canon, but the urge to spend and adorn at Christmas remains as strong as ever. Retail numbers in December drive the markets, the Street, the macroeconomic outlook in general. How can earnest anti-commercialism and the Gods of the Mall live in such peace and harmony?

I am reminded of what Baudrillard said of Watergate:

Watergate. Same scenario as Disneyland (an imaginary effect concealing that reality no more exists outside than inside the bounds of the artificial perimeter): though here it is a scandal-effect concealing that there is no difference between the facts and their denunciation (identical methods are employed by the CIA and the Washington Post journalists). Same operation, though this time tending towards scandal as a means to regenerate a moral and political principle, towards the imaginary as a means to regenerate a reality principle in distress.
That is, the annual genuflection before Schulz's critique of consumption sets us free to load up as we see fit.

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