A Merry Look at Journalism in “The Year Without a Santa Claus”

In the classic stop-action TV special “The Year Without a Santa Claus” (1974), newspaper headlines provide exposition and offer a low-budget way to depict widespread reaction to the events of the plot. Newspapers also introduce a plot hole that’s bothered me ever since I was a kid.

When I watched the show again this year, I noticed some typographical oddities in the prop newspapers. First of all, the elves have purchased not one, but two different Daily Tribune extra editions. One has a banner headline that reads

“NOT COMING”!
SAYS  CLAUS 

Another reads

“SANTA SAYS-“
TOO  TIRED ! 

Note the strange use of quotation marks. The should be around “too tired,” not the attribution.

As Mrs. Claus sings her exposition song (“And the children they cried…”), we see crying children react to to the news. Or kind of reacting… one ginger girl’s face was molded into a smile, so the tears on her face are kinda creepy.

Hours later, when the elves Jingle and Jangle go into the world looking for evidence of the Christmas spirit, they encounter children who say they “heard the news” about Santa’s illness. These are some of the same children who were earlier seen crying, but now they are completely jaded and dismissive.

Even stranger — the mayor of Southtown seems to be living in a Santa-free media bubble, as he treats Jingle and Jangle’s claims with contemptuous laughter.

Is the mayor the lone voice of sanity, rejecting news hoaxes published by editors who didn’t bother to check Snopes?

Note that when Iggy talks with Jingle and Jangle, he doesn’t reject the idea that Santa exists — he just doesn’t care. But once Vixen is dognapped, the story suddenly shifts to a subplot involving Iggy’s disbelief in Santa — the same Santa who was the subject of banner headlines in multiple newspapers.  Iggy’s divergent views are quickly normalized, not with the help of the mainstream media’s objective and scrupulously documented reportage, but rather thanks to a song from his father (*** fake cough sounds like “patriarchy” ***) .

If, in this fictional world, we accept that Santa exists, why does the mayor laugh at Jingle and Jangle for repeating what the newspapers have already reported?

Clearly the mainstream media has a credibility problem.

To be fair, the mayor may simply be dismissing Jingle and Jangle’s claim to be elves, but he seems to reject their entire story, including their claim that Santa is ill and won’t be coming this year.

So… because I had nothing better to do with myself on Christmas eve, here is an infographic that offers “A Merry Look at Journalism in ‘The Year Without A Santa Claus’.”