Every year, the protectors of freedom at NORAD run a special “Santa Tracker” website that allows the good little boys and girls of America and Canada to find out where their presents are, so their parents can slip away to pour a little rum in their egg nog. This year’s site, designed by Microsoft, is quite impressive, as the interactive tracker, games, movies and other features are enough to keep both children and adults entertained for hours. But all is apparently not well with this invasion of St. Nick’s privacy, because some people think that NORAD’s reasons for the Santa Tracker are actually quite sinister.
For example, the people at the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood – a group that basically wants to eliminate ads that target children – believe that this year’s inclusion of military jets in a teaser video for the website is just a way for NORAD to make kids associate Christmas and Santa with the military.
“Children associate Santa with gifts and fun and everything else that is positive about Christmas,” said Allen Kanner, a California child and family psychologist and cofounder of the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood. “They are associating this with the military in children’s minds. It is completely out of line.”
“What we have to remember is that the military has been hiring marketing companies for many years to best reach youngsters under 18 for the sole purpose of recruitment. They also know you can develop something called brand loyalty — from birth to death,” said Kanner. (Via the Boston Globe)
Putting it more bluntly…
“I think people are quite aware of the military’s true mission,” said Amy Hagopian, a professor of public health at the University of Washington, who has written extensively about military recruiting of youngsters. “If the military wants to keep its ranks stocked, it needs to appeal to children. The military knows it can’t appeal to adults to volunteer. It is like the ad industry.’’
What’s next? They’ll start recruiting elementary school children by allowing the U.S. Navy to develop its own boy band and use subliminal messages in the lyrics?
Naturally, some people aren’t very pleased with these Grinches trying to ruin the fun, and Kanner and the Campaign’s associate director, Josh Golin, have been finding some coal in their stockings. So they tried to clarify their stance to the Los Angeles Times today.
“What’s getting lost in the controversy is the child-development piece,” Golin said. It’s easy for adults to look at the video above and say “What’s the big deal?”
“But we are talking about 4-year-olds and 6-year-olds,” Golin said. “For young children, the idea of Santa, and that there are ‘bad guys’ who might want to ‘get’ Santa, so he needs the jets, that can be very disturbing.”
The “bad guys” in question are Jack Frost and the Abominable Snowman, according to one of the videos, but maybe these guys have a point. Even worse, NORAD has managed to trick Joey Lawrence and his incredibly creepy brown hair into endorsing the Santa Tracker. Whoa indeed, Joey.