I made the following post to a forum I frequent, but I also wanted to post it here to get feedback from some folk not on that forum. Let me very clear up front that nothing in this post is against the publishers of the product.
So yesterday, the awesome folks at Evit Hat put out Spirit of the Season, a free supplement for Spirit of the Century that’s very much holiday-season oriented. It presents Nick Saint, aka. Secret Santa, and his Reindeer Men, as they battle against a bevy of Christmas-based foes like Dr. Scrooge and Jacques Frost. The supplement is excellent, as is to be expected from EVP, and I’m both thankful to them for putting it out, and enjoying it very much. I say all this to be very clear that everything that comes below is all about me, not about Fred or EVP.
Now, when I first read that this was coming on Fred’s LJ, I asked him, “Do we get some Channukah love in there as well?” to which he replied, “Not *really*, since the idea revolves around a Santa figure.” Peachy. He then goes on to mention the product may be expanded in a for-pay version that might include some Channukah-themed pulpy goodness as well. Yay.
Cut to yesterday when I get the PDF and as I am looking through it, and enjoying the reimagining of the tropes into cool pulpy characters, I run into Stories of the Season, a series of adventure hooks, and into this (pg. 43):
CHANNUKAH IN PERIL!
At the start of Channukah, in old Palestine, in the city of Jerusalem, Baroness Blackheart has unearthed a cache of consecrated oil dated from before 70 AD and the destruction of the Temple She intends to corrupt the oil’s purpose in her alchemical pursuit of the Elixir of Life! Can Nick Saint and the Reindeer Men brave international politics and reclaim the oil from Blackheart before this holy relic is lost forever to her sinister purposes?
And immediately the grin I had on my face vanishes and I get this very uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach. A million thoughts are racing through my mind: Fred said there’d be no Channukah stuff in there, so why this? Santa Claus has to go save Channukah? What kind of crap is that? Why is there no Jewish pulp hero to take down the Baroness’s ass and save Channukah the way Judah Maccabee did it centuries ago? Why am I so fucking bothered by this???
I thought I was overreacting; I was going to post this last night but I said, no, let me sleep on it and see how I feel in the morning. I feel the same way.
The simple solution is to take matters into my own hands and create the aforementioned Jewish pulp hero that can defend Channukah: Agent Makav (Hammer) and Team Menorah. I’ll write it up and get some art done and voila. That part is taken care of. But that doesn’t address why I got so upset over this.
I think it’s because of the appropiation of my holiday. To wit, Channukah is not that big a deal in the Jewish holiday cycle, at all. Important, yes, but not one of the major ones. The only reason Channukah has this level of visibility is because it falls during the Christmas season and American Jewry has turned into a sort of Jewish version of Christmas, which it isn’t, at all (but that’s for another topic). Nevertheless, at a time when I can’t step out of my house without being bombarded with Christmas imagery (seriously, my neighbors across the way have this huge and very tacky inflatable snowglobe that makes the most horrendous noise), when I can’t go to buy my groceries without having to pass a pine tree honor guard, when I can’t put gas without getting an earful of “Jingle Bells” or “White Christmas” or whatever Christmas song was released by whatever pop star, Channukah is my own symbol that I can cling on for a bit of sanity. Seeing menorahs all over the place (I live in Miami Beach, so there are quite a few of us around here) raises my spirit and gives me an anchor to hold on to in a sea of wreaths and manger scenes. And just to be clear, I have nothing against Christmas; I obviously don’t celebrate it, but the rest of my family does (but again, that’s another topic).
So when I read that Santa Claus has to go all the way to Jerusalem to stop a plot to destroy Channukah, it irks me, big time. It’s not like there’s a team-up between gentile and Jewish pulp heroes to bring down evil, just the guy in red. We have been, effectively, written out of our own holiday.
And this isn’t about Evil Hat. Whoever penned that section wrote a kickass adventure seed that actually sounds very cool. This is about how I perceive it as an appropiation of my one beacon of light during December. And I still feel like that, and I don’t know what to do about it.
Am I overreacting? Fellow Jews, do you see what I’m getting at, or does it not make a difference to you? Comment away.