Progressive Boink Holiday Mixtape: 'The Christmas Shoes.'

The year of our lord 2012 has given us so much (Vanity Fair's oral history of "Freaks and Geeks"; that old Spanish lady retouching the Jesus fresco; LMFAO breaking up; uhhhhh), but few of the year's gifts have been as rewarding as the term "hate-watch." From what I can tell, it did exist before this year, but only just. Google turns up a handful of blogs that used the term before 2012 and then a bunch of results about the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of hate groups. This year, though, media outlets of every brow—low, middle, and high—couldn't get enough hate-watching.

For the particularly dense, hate-watching is just watching something super shitty in order to revel in how shitty it is. Normally I'm not a fan of pithy little new expressions, but "hate-watch" coined an incredibly useful term where none existed before. Something like "so bad it's good" is a) lame, b) not as precise, and c) not easy to turn into a handy verb. I hate-watch. You hate-watch. We hate-watch The Hottie and the Nottie.

Which brings me to my selection today for the holiday playlist. All month, we're writing about Christmas songs we love. I truly, truly love this song because it is such an enormous pile of shit. I don't think there's a single song in the universe better for hate-listening than "The Christmas Shoes." Won't you join me?

The Christmas Shoes (via benfreeze)

Patton Oswalt famously has a bit all about "The Christmas Shoes" and how awful it is. He talks about the goofy-ass name—NewSong (!!)—of the Christian rock (lol) band behind "The Christmas Shoes." He talks about how the kid in the song is some kind of Dickensian street urchin, about the casual evil of the cashier who won't front the kid a few more pennies (!!!) to buy shoes for his dying mother, about the absurdity of running out to buy shoes for your mother, who is on her deathbed, so she can impress Jesus (!!!!!!). But he misses the single most obnoxious, hilarious thing about the song, without which it would be like 30% as hate-listenable. Here are some lyrics:

So I laid the money down, I just had to help him out
I'll never forget the look on his face when he said
Mama's gonna look so great

It all comes together. Look at that. Look! An entire song was written about a fictional event as a #humblebrag for NewSong's (!!!) lead singer, who may or may not be Garth Brooks is: Chris Gaines (at least I assume the lead singer is that dude and not either of the middle-aged British character actors on either side of the photo, or the Applebee's bartender with the isosceles soul patch who's either hanging back or has been hit by a mild shrinking ray). Five minutes of setup and then the song just turns out to be the equivalent of "@IAmNotChrisGaines: Weird. Just saw #homeless kid buying shoes for his #cancermom. You know me--couldn't help but chip in. Heh. #ItsTheLittleThings"

I repeat: the entire (fictional) song is about how great and charitable the narrator is. It's a story, and the moral of the story is "I am great." It's the Paul Ryan washing clean soup kitchen dishes of songs. Oh my god, it's so good.

It ends on these lines:

I knew I'd caught a glimpse of heaven's love
As he thanked me and ran out
I knew that God had sent that little boy
To remind me just what Christmas is all about

So first off, the "heaven's love" he mentions seems to just refer to his own charity. The kid didn't do anything particularly heavenly. His mom's drawing her last gasps and he's at Payless trying to buy her some Heelys so that Jesus will think she's hot. Kid's an idiot. It's the narrator who is the vessel of God's love, magnanimously bestowing the spoils of divine providence on the kid and his mother.

But also, hooooooly shit, what a narcissist! "God, you scamp. Sending that boy into my life to teach me the true meaning of Christmas. You truly work in mysterious ways." Meanwhile, the kid is trudging back home to a long, long life (unless what his mom had was communicable! then at least he has the release of death to look forward to) of grinding poverty, in which he will very, very soon be motherless. This kid has decades of petty crime, alcoholism, divorce, depression, unemployment, drug abuse, and illness ahead of him yet...buuut he was able to puff up a dude's ego for 45 seconds in a shoe store. Aw, thanks, God!

Man, I love "The Christmas Shoes." It's this perfect little oblivious gift wrapped up by the universe, readymade for hate-listening every single Christmas, now and forever. Maybe God does work in mysterious ways.

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