Being Modern: Alt.Christmas
As the forces of commerce gather for the fast-approaching
festivities, we would do well to guard against another stain that
has, of late, indelibly marked the spirit of the season:
"alternative" takes on our cherished traditions.
It began in 1988 at the Tate Gallery. In one of Nicholas Serota's first moves as director, the sculptor Bill Woodrow was commissioned to decorate the gallery's Christmas tree with cardboard. This year, visitors will be greeted by the work of Giorgio Sadotti. Sadotti, though, has "resisted the tradition of decorating the tree". Hmm. So what magical form does his unspruced spruce take? "By presenting it 'undressed', Sadotti asks us to contemplate the tree's true beauty." Which is surely just a less clever take on Quentin Crisp's "What have you got against bare walls?" in reply to a reporter who asked him what he'd got against art.
Talking of Crisp, the next alt take on a hallowed Christmas custom came in 1993 when Channel 4 aired its first Alternative Queen's Speech courtesy of said wit. It was brilliant, of course, but we've since been subjected to slightly less resounding offerings from Sharon Osbourne, Ali G and Jamie Oliver.
And now we have the annual sport that is trying to stop the X Factor winner from getting to number one (see this year's campaign for Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit"), which felt relevant when it started but has quickly become as alternative as a can of pink hairspray.
Now, this column could not be more in favour of selectively sprinkling the secular into this time of year. We accept that, for many, the break from work and the chance to drink from dawn to dusk is as crucial to proceedings as the wise offerings of the man whose birthday we are supposed to be celebrating.
But there are times when a crap Cliff song hits the mark in a way Rage Against the Machine never can. The Queen, god bless her, doesn't demand our ear much these days, while tatty tinsel and cheap baubles possess a wonder of their own. And don't even get us started on the abomination that is the alt.appellation of "Crimbo"...
Life & Style blogs
Coachella Festival 2015: from Kendall Jenner to Alexa Chung, stars and festival-goers parade their boho best
What do the emoji on Snapchat mean?
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
'Game-changing' new way to fight cancer discovered
The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive - it's where the CIA gets its coffee fix
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
General Election 2015: Polish prince challenges Nigel Farage to a duel over immigration question
- 1 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 4 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
- 5 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...
£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...