Christmastime: beloved by families, loathed by alternative-weekly arts editors. Why? It’s the time of year when pretentiousness grinds to a halt. It’s as though all the snobs temporarily bury their black clothing and begin singing along to that Mariah Carey Christmas album. Same goes for arts programming. Major arts organizations, motivated by revenue potential and, who knows, the Christmas spirit, turn their eyes toward corny fodder and lamely shrug, “Awww…why the heck not!”
Call it the Ned Flandersization of the arts scene.
But rest assured, there is a formula to holiday entertainment. For decades, artists, TV and film executives, and Disney have been hard at work, perfecting the ickiest Christmas swill. The modernists, angry at mom and dad and shopping-mall Santa Clauses, can’t resist the bait: They have to come up with a subversive counterpoint year after year. And somewhere in the middle, there’s bluegrass.
So here are the ingredients for your standard-issue holiday show. Just start with a dash of Christmas “oy,” and add the rest to taste.