New Old Fashioned Ways: Holidays Popular Culture

Jack Santino, Author University of Tennessee Press $15.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-87049-952-4
The exploitation of the average consumer through the sales of holiday-colored M&Ms, soda cans emblazoned with the American flag and Easter candy is no big secret. Santino does not present the reader with any new insights concerning holidays and popular culture, but he does succeed in demonstrating the pervasive role holidays play in our society, from popular songs to snack cakes and family dinners. Santino deciphers the semiotics of holidays for the reader, which helps to explain why candy canes work at Christmas, and Kraft's ""SantaMac"" macaroni-and-cheese dinner, featuring St. Nick on the box, does not. This analysis, linked to the myriad of products that attempt (appropriately or otherwise) to piggyback on specific holidays, indirectly damns commercialization, but Santino shrugs his shoulders and claims it's a natural outgrowth of capitalism. In his conclusion, Santino briefly touches on juicier topics such as women's dominant role in holiday consumerism and how holidays, both with and without the capitalist trimmings, uphold the existing social order. But, as he states in his conclusion: ""My point is not to endorse the system, but to suggest that all systems... are drenched in seasonality."" One wishes that New Old-Fashioned Ways not only outlined holidays' resonance in daily life but also ventured a look beyond the cupcakes and the macaroni to the holidays' real source of power. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 12/09/1996
Release date: 12/01/1996
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