December 22, 2006
As embedded in American tradition as Christmas is, it isn't exactly the hippest thing going in our cultural landscape. Saying Christmas is your favorite holiday if you're not 8 years old is obvious and white-bread, and nowhere near as cool as saying Halloween or Chinese New Year.
Time for rebranding! Just because Christmas is inherently associated with small children and tacky commercialism and your extended family is no reason why its tired image can't be made into something sleek and modern by a multinational design firm, who are clearly kidding, but got the attention of the New York Times anyway.
In conjunction with Studio 360*, the NPR show produced by WNYC and Public Radio International, a design firm came up with some ideas for Christmas 2.0. The group that formed for this project was “kind of like the Iraq Study Group,” according to Kurt Anderson, who hosts Studio 360. “It sounds shocking and overcommercial and ludicrous,” conceded Michael Bierut, a partner at design firm Pentagram (are they devil worshippers trying to kill Christmas with their diabolical trendiness?! Clearly they are) “but we actually see this as a way to take the commercialization, which is inevitable and irreversible, and turn it to good.”
It's mostly a joke, and some of it isn't especially good, but they have a few funny ideas too. They want to create a new domain ".mas", as in "x.mas", and let stores buy new websites to promote holiday shopping for their crap. And my favorite: "In the place of red and green would be various almost-indistinguishable shades of x.mas white, like Yule Neutral, Shopping Frosted and Dawkins Blank (named for Richard Dawkins, the biologist and outspoken atheist)."
As far as the marginal religious significance that Christmas still holds in our culture, or the affection that people have for the traditional red and green holly jolly Christmas images, the designers don't want to get involved. “We weren’t hired as theologians or social engineers,” Beirut said, before tilting his head and adding, “Actually, come to think of it, we weren’t hired at all.”
* ADM notes that we now have an NPR show called Studio 360, Studio 60 on Sunset Strip, and Anderson Cooper 360. Enough already.
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