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It appears nothing is sacred this holiday season. Yes, that includes the seemingly cheerful and innocent holiday hymn “Jingle Bells.” What’s next, my favorite SportsCenter anchor is going to be accused of something terrible? Oh… oh say it ain’t so, BucciMane!
From Fox News:
A Boston University theater professor claims the Christmas carol has a “problematic history” because it was originally performed to make fun of African Americans.
“The legacy of ‘Jingle Bells’ is one where its blackface and racist origins have been subtly and systematically removed from its history,” Kyna Hamill, a BU theater historian, wrote in her “Theatre Survey” research paper on the story of “Jingle Bells.”
“Although ‘One Horse Open Sleigh,’ for most of its singers and listeners, may have eluded its racialized past and taken its place in the seemingly unproblematic romanticization of a normal ‘white’ Christmas, attention to the circumstances of its performance history enables reflection on its problematic role in the construction of blackness and whiteness in the United States,” she wrote.
Well, shit. Time to overhaul our Christmas favorites. That means “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” will soon be replaced with “I’m dreaming of a multi-colored, non-binary, cisgendered Happy Holidays.” Sure, it doesn’t flow that well, but you’ll get used to it.
As much as I want to make fun of this story, it’s not quite as hell-raising as you’d expect. That’s right — put the pitchfork down, Brad.
BU theater historian Kyna Hamill first started the research paper to definitively discover the long-disputed place of origin of the song — Medford, Mass. or Savannah, Ga. When she uncovered the part about it being performed in blackface from 1857 to the 1930s, the research obviously took a bit of a turn.
And for a theater historian *suppresses immediate urge to add liberal as an adjective*, Hamill seems pretty levelheaded.
From The Boston Herald:
Hamill insists she doesn’t think “Jingle Bells” should be considered a racist song today, and isn’t discouraging people from singing it.
“I never said it was racist now,” said Hamill. “Nowhere did I say that. My point was that because it is now included in the Christmas catalog of songs — attention is only given to it during the Christmas season — it has eluded rigorous study.”
Breitbart even went so far as to claim Hamill wants Medford to cancel its annual Jingle Bell Festival — which Hamill strongly denies.
“There were many incorrect details in the Breitbart article, which seemed to be timed perfectly to rile people up at this time of year,” Hamill said.
I mean, Breitbart is trash designed specifically for my uncle in deep Alabama that creams his pants at the thought of Trump building a wall to melt those liberal snowflakes and still thinks Roy Moore deserved to win, so yeah. Story checks out.
It seems, for now, “Jingle Bells” is still safe, but who knows how long that’ll stay. Oh what fun it’ll be to ride in a multi-colored, non-binary, cisgendered, open sleigh!.
[via Boston Herald]
Image via Shutterstock