Frosty the Snowman has always been a jolly happy soul. But for the purposes of a seasonal advertising campaign, he's suddenly built up a vast collection of pornography and begun spending evenings at underground strip clubs where he drinks heavily, admires women's breasts and, every so often, gets in a fight.
That, at least, is what CBS would have America believe. The broadcaster is facing extraordinary hostility from family values campaigners after deciding to promote its Christmas schedule with a satirical version of the wholesome children's cartoon entitled: "Frosty the Inappropriate Snowman."
The two-minute films starring the "sexed-up" character were released on YouTube earlier this week, with the tagline: "some things are best left alone." They consisted of clips from classic Frosty episodes, dubbed over with risqué audio samples from the post-watershed CBS sitcoms How I Met Your Mother and Two And A Half Men.
"We got to have a bro's night at a strip club," Frosty tells a group of apple-cheeked children in one typical excerpt, proudly adding that: "I have been with a lot of women: blondes, brunettes, redheads, big boobs, small boobs, medium boobs, some boobs that were big... but in a bad way."
Other passages saw the cuddly snowman, who first appeared on film in 1954, discuss the pros and cons of orgies, the dangers of sexually-transmitted disease, techniques to help slow yourself down when having intercourse, and the pressing issue of whether a grandmother can ever be "sexy."
Amusing though the clips occasionally are, they fly squarely in the face of America's censorious attitude towards public morality. So it was not surprising to see them yesterday spark outrage of a variety widely seen when Janet Jackson briefly flashed a pierced nipple during the Superbowl half-time show.
"I've never been as appalled, outraged and saddened," was the verdict of John Tantillo, a commentator for the conservative Fox News network. "These trailers are not only morally bankrupt, they're the stupidest kind of marketing imaginable. The dirty-minded lunatics have definitely taken over the asylum this time."
Mr Tantillo branded the clips "desperate," "depraved," "disgusting," "amateurish," and claimed the television network was: "stealing people's memories of childhood and polluting the precious memories of children being formed at Christmas."
Broadcasting standards campaigners, who ensure that nudity and swearing are more or less verboten on US network television (though cable channels are a different matter) agreed. The Culture and Media Institute, called the films "highly inappropriate." Bob Peters, president of Morality in Media, said the broadcaster should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission
"CBS is doing much the same thing that alcohol and tobacco companies have done in the past: using imagery in advertising that would naturally attract children in order to market an adult product... CBS ought to be ashamed of itself... using an animated Christmas season setting, complete with young children, to chat about strippers, whores, pornography, sadomasochism, sexual promiscuity, and more."
The fact that the trailers are only available online failed to dampen complaints."It's not going to be amusing when some fourth-grader Googling Frosty gets schooled on everything from porn to prostitutes," said The Boston Globe. "That these Web trailers are sanctioned by CBS is incomprehensible... it's tough to get attention. But turning beloved children's characters into oversexed jokesters isn't the answer."
CBS, perhaps wisely, declined to comment.