Carola Long: Even Xmas cards are now obscene

The perpetuation of stereotypes is especially depressing

Share
Related Topics

Jolly Snowmen, holly wreaths, fat-breasted robins; the usual Christmas card imagery is all a bit too pleasant isn't it? Too disappointingly feelgood to make anyone choke on their eggnog in shock. However, those intent on causing offence should fear not, because there are plenty of crass, discriminatory, ageist and sexist cards on the shelves.

One such seasonal missive has just been removed from Tesco. It depicts a red-headed child sat on Santa's knee and the caption "Santa loves all kids. Even ginger ones." The supermarket agreed to stop stocking the card after a mother of three red-haired children complained, saying that, "it's discrimination pure and simple." She's got a point, one that the American comedian Reginald D Hunter has picked up on in the past when he quipped that, "Britain has racism, it's just not very good at it. Ginger-haired people, that ain't even a race and y'all lay into them." Why is mocking people with ginger hair deemed a social acceptable prejudice, not to mention redolent of seasonal goodwill?

However, it's by no means just the red-haired who might find that their Christmas, New Year, or indeed birthday message is an insensitive one. Crude cards for every occasion – ranging from the truly offensive to the pointlessly profane – are strangely popular. For years, the likes of Hallmark and WHSmith were dominated by such saccharine characters as Forever Friends – those doughy-faced bears with love-lorn, lobotomised expressions – and floral cards making excessive use of the word special.

Now, however, looking for a funny, sophisticated card amidst the lads mag-like offerings in many party shops is like trying to find a searching article on unequal gender pay in Nuts or Zoo. Here's a little browse through some of the charming designs for different occasions on offer in Hallmark. First up, an image of an underwear-clad women's torso and the words, "what do you call a babe who does anything you want?" The hilarious answer inside? "Inflatable."

But if young "lovelies" are insufficiently devoted to the pursuit of male satisfaction, then according to the lascivious greetings card universe, elderly women – you know, the ones "ladz" don't want to shag – are apparently all randy old goats. Take a typical design that shows two women in glasses and chintzy frocks with the caption, "Agnes and Sue weren't maths wizards, but it didn't take them long to figure out how many people they needed for a threesome."

Britain might have a tradition of saucy postcards, typified by Donald McGill's ample-bottomed women at the seaside, but they can surely only be appreciated now as historical artefacts. The perpetuation of simplistic, outdated stereotypes and aggressive so-called humour is particularly depressing at Christmas, while the dispiriting trend for cards where the humour seems to revolve around substituting festive greetings with swearing (there's a card on sale that simple says "Fuck off and die. Oh Sorry I mean Happy Christmas") just underlines the British inability to be sincere or emotionally honest.

The constant stream of irony, or in this case aggressive profanity, that informs modern culture can be exhaustingly cynical. Give me a saccharine picture of a sledging polar bear over a provocative card with less wit than a cheap cracker joke any day.

c.long@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - An outstanding high level opportunity...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The first Christmas card: in 1843 the inventor Sir Henry Cole commissioned the artist John Callcott Horsley to draw a card for him to send to family and friends  

Hold your temperance: New life for the first Christmas card

Simmy Richman
Members of the House of Lords gather for the state opening of Parliament  

Peer pressure: The nobles in the Lords should know when to go

Jane Merrick
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick