Again, I’m regifting an old Facebook note (from Christmas Day, 2011) here for your enjoyment…
I started writing this note last year after posting Christmas Music Part I: The Good, The Bad, And Ones About Date Rape (Such a whimsical title in retrospect.) You can check that out here:
Anyway, in that note I touched on some of the more bizarre and even disturbing Christmas songs floating around America’s soft rock radio dial. But at the end of that note, I eluded to an upcoming individualized treatment of my absolute favorite Christmas song, a song that NONE of the yuletide nonsense I touched on in the first note could hold a candle to…Newsong’s “Christmas Shoes”.
(Oh yeah. AND they made a movie. And a music video. We’ll get to all that.)
However, I never finished it. That is due to two reasons. First of all, I’m notoriously lazy. Things simply don’t get “done” a lot. Second of all, after writing almost the entire thing I was fact-checking some lyrics, and while Googling the song I discovered that I had been beaten to the punch. That asshole Patton Oswalt already had a stand up bit entirely based on the song. Total Christmas cock block.
Go on. Listen to it. It’s funny:
Patton Oswalt’s Christmas Shoes Treatment
So, like a child who doesn’t want to play with a toy because some other kid already touched it, or a guy who doesn’t want to date a chick because all his friends have already had sex with it, I sulked in the corner defeated and decided to just shelve it instead of leading anyone to believe I was plagiarizing.
But then I came back across the Microsoft Word document recently, and figured what the hell. It’s Christmas. The time for sharing. And since this thing was basically complete already, why not share it? I listened to Patton’s bit again and all similarities are basically thematic, and let’s be honest, fairly obvious. Well, other than catty Jesus. We were damn near identical on that one. But I enjoy that part of the note, so I kept it in anyway. Plus, I focused more on the video itself than the actual song, so it’s not as similar as I had remembered.
Now, even with the full disclosure that I wrote most of this BEFORE hearing Patton’s stand-up (and overly attempted to avoid any similar jokes and comments while finishing it), I still fully expect comments from those who believe the contrary. But even more likely, at least a handful of, “His is funnier,” comments.
CHRISTMAS SHOES: THESE SHOES WERE MADE FOR DYIN’
Let me start by posing this question: When you think of the true meaning of Christmas, what comes to mind?
Buying shoes for a kid so his mom can die in them?
That’s what the band Newsong must have thought when they penned “Christmas Shoes”. If you’ve never heard the song, here’s a nutshell version of the story that’s growled out by a lead singer whose voice sounds like Bruce Springsteen ate Tom Waits’s throat. There’s a poor kid whose mother is terminally ill with an unspecified sickness. We can assume that it’s cancer, but it very well could be AIDS. Or Pac Man fever. Or any of the maladies your loved ones can die from on the Oregon Trail, because you just HAD to be a farmer instead of a doctor. Either way, bitch be mad sick, yo. So, armed with this knowledge that his mom is cocking back her leg in preparation to kick the bucket, he goes to buy her some “Christmas shoes” in case she “meets Jesus” on Christmas Eve. However, the boy doesn’t have enough money to purchase them.
The entire song was written from the perspective of a guy in line at the store who ends up paying for the shoes and is reminded of what “Christmas is all about” by the experience. The kid runs off with his death shoes and the guy feels all warm and fuzzy because of the Christian charity he demonstrated. Also, HIS mother is probably still very much alive.
We never find out if the mom survives. We’re all just supposed to feel Christmas cheer because he got the shoes. I hope it’s not diabetes. If he comes home and those feet are gone, there will be eggnog on everyone’s face. Plus, I’m pretty sure the kindly gentleman narrator didn’t give the kid his receipt.
So, that’s the basic storyline we’re working with here. A storyline that Nicholas Sparks would look at and say, “How simple and melodramatic.”
I’d love to see the notes that the guy from Newsong jotted down on a Waffle House napkin before tying this madness together.
“Add my gravelly voice and a creepy children’s choir and this will be a hit!”
Now, it’s worth noting that Newsong is a Christian band, and this is widely considered a “Christian” song. So, if that’s the case, why is Jesus portrayed as materialistic and judgmental? And why does this kid have an ancient Egyptian view of how the afterlife works? This must be how he perceives his mother’s final judgment playing out:
(Mom arrives in heaven wearing her boring-ass regular shoes.)
Jesus: (Yawning.) Well, those shoes are drab. Looks like it’s hell for you. Next!
(Mom arrives in heaven wearing a pair of sweet-ass Christmas shoes.)
Jesus: Oh…my…home! I am so jelly! Get in here, you, and tell me where you got those gorgeous shoes! I just HAVE to know! Peter, do you see these?! What a bitch! You’re a total bitch and you know it!
The fact that the guy in line singing this song feels that the boy was sent by God to remind him of “what Christmas is all about” is also disconcerting. “What’s that, little boy? Oh. Your mom is going to die on Christmas Eve and you’re too poor to buy her shoes? Sounds like a sign from God to me! Don’t worry cashier, I’ll get the tab for this kid. His extremely shitty life and adorable selflessness just filled me with the Christmas spirit! Yay Christmas! Here’s your shoes, kid. Good luck with that whole mom-dying thing. I just feel great now!”
And that’s just the song…
CHRISTMAS SHOES: THE VIDEO (BASED ON THE MOVIE THAT WAS BASED ON THE SONG THAT WAS BASED ON A SICK AND TWISTED CONCEPT)
Now, if the song wasn’t bad enough already, the folks at the Lifetime network amped shit up a notch. A song alone could not fully bring this concept to life. Oh no. Only one man could help take this ridiculousness to a supersonic level.
As you can imagine, this song was destined to become a movie on the Lifetime network.
So why just focus on the ridiculousness of the song itself? Or the movie based on the song? No. I’m going to do you one better and skip the movie, and go straight to exploring the music video BASED on the Rob Lowe Lifetime movie that was BASED on the song.
Yuletide mind-fuck, y’all.
The fact that this exists means that someone liked the song SO much, that they made it into a movie. Then, either to promote the movie or because they were bored, Newsong filmed a music video using clips from this movie.
Oh yes. This happened:
CHRISTMAS SHOES: THE VIDEO (BASED ON THE MOVIE THAT WAS BASED ON THE SONG THAT WAS BASED ON A SICK AND TWISTED CONCEPT)
Care to take a journey with me? Click on that link, and follow along!
0:00: The video starts with Brad Paisley’s wife (yes, that’s former Felicity sweetheart, Kerri Russell) and her son playing a game of catch. Cute enough. However, rather than staying in their perfectly suitable and safe front yard, the mom encourages her son to run across the street instead. Since she already knows she’s dying, she doesn’t have to worry about bullshit like good parenting or protective instincts anymore. “Fuck it, kid. Go weave through traffic so mom can thread the needle between two Jettas.”
“Yes, Brad, I’m going to be acting with THE Rob Lowe!”
0:07: Enter Rob Lowe, who (though being a breath of fresh handsome) ruins this little slice of mother-son bonding by driving his car directly into the path of the ball like some sort of asshole. Instead of taking responsibility or acting concerned that she just nailed a stranger’s car with a tight spiral (okay, as much of a spiral as a woman can throw…oooh, misogynist burn), she appears to actually throw her kid under the bus. This seems ironic considering the fact that she just sent him on a slant route into oncoming traffic.
0:09: So instead of apologizing or asking if the man’s car is okay, she pulls the, “Oh, this guy here! What am I going to do with him?” bit. She doesn’t say, “I apologize, sir. I directed my child to run across the street, then I threw a ball with a trajectory that simply would not have come anywhere near him, and I also timed that throw with an appallingly glaring ignorance to your car driving just feet away from me. This is 100% my fault.” No. Remember, she’s dying. No need for civility. Instead, she acts like her cute little dog just peed on his carpet.
0:10: But check out Rob Lowe’s reaction to this. Oh man, it’s fantastic! He wants absolutely NONE of this complete BULLshit. He’s a goddamn businessman and he does NOT have time for this crap. In response to her light-hearted “boys will be boys” faux apology, he shoots her a look that just screams, “Shut up, you poor, stupid bitch.” He won’t even look her in the face when he clearly mouths, “Yeah right,” before stylishly driving away and muttering about how much he hates Christmas, and footballs, and moms.
I can only imagine that right after this interaction, he keeps replaying the incident in his head and gets mad at himself for the fact that all he could muster was a, “Yeah right,” when what he really wishes he would have said would have been, “Listen, you dirty suburban whore. If you ever hit my car with a football again, you‘ll be peeling your son’s face out of my tire tread.” And then in his little fantasy, he would have tossed like twenty $100 bills out the window and spit in her face, then drove off after screaming, “Go fuck yourself! I’m rich!”
So, now we’ve established two things:
1) Kerri Russell and her son have a loving relationship.
2) Rob Lowe is a total dick.
So, now it’s time to establish the awesomeness that is Newsong.
0:13: We’re introduced to Newsong in an awkward Christmas-time human panorama. The band is apparently comprised of Dave Attell on vocals and a bunch of dudes looking at different things that all exist in starkly different geographical locations. I think that might actually be Sting to Dave Attell’s right and Josh Brolin to his left. But my favorite is the guy on the far left wearing aviators with his hands in his pockets. That guy just does NOT GIVE A SHIT, which is totally bad ass. He’s all, “Christmas shoes? Heh. Sure. Whatever.”
0:23: We get a close up of the raspy lead singer who has patterned his look after Tom Hanks in “Philadelphia”.
Denzel should have bought Andrew Beckett some Christmas shoes.
0:29: A delivery truck with a grossly negligent driver spills a single pair of Christmas shoes onto the road. That driver is going to have hell to pay when the inventory check reveals that he somehow “lost” a pair of gaudy red slippers. How does that happen? There are literally five things you need to remember to do if you are a delivery driver.
1) Drive to location.
2) Get out and open backdoor.
3) Drop off delivery.
4) Close backdoor.
5) Drive to next location.
This guy has already failed at number 4 and when he gets to the next location, he’s going to realize that he’s also failed number 5.
(I’ll ignore the fact that the lid of the box was obviously tied to the truck so that the shoes would “reveal” themselves better in the camera shot. This director does not take chances. The budget calls for one and only one “truck drives off, shoes fall out” medium close-up shot…and he’s not risking anything.)
0:37: Cut back to AIDS Tom Hanks and The Disinterest Bunch, who are now apparently sitting at The Grotto on Notre Dame’s campus. They must have gotten tired of standing. Creating dramatically staggered pose motifs is exhausting.
Thankfully, Rob Lowe was there to retrieve the delivery truck shoes and realizes that there is a local business that specializes in Christmas and Christmas-themed apparel RIGHT BEHIND HIM, which also leads me to believe that maybe the shoes were actually SUPPOSED to be delivered there. And if THAT’S the case, then that delivery driver actually failed steps 2, 3, and 5. He is just not cut out for this line of work.
0:42: Rob Lowe just hands over the discarded shoes to an apparently bewildered Old Man Shopkeep. That whole bewildered thing must be an act, because this old man is then perfectly willing to make a profit on what are basically stolen goods. This old dude may spread holiday cheer by climbing his mini-ladder to decorate his street tree, but he will not think twice about turning a profit on products that fall off the back of delivery trucks. I bet he also sells used car stereos, and electronics in slightly dented boxes at his store. Is he actually Shredder?
0:49: Oh look! It’s the highly anticipated annual Harold Wilson School’s Christmas concert. (The school must be named after British Prime Minister Harold Wilson.)
0:53: Brad Paisley’s wife steals the chorus’s thunder by hogging the microphone at the end of the show and most likely beginning with, “And we were worried we couldn’t top LAST YEAR’S Harold Wilson School Christmas Concert?! Well, boy were WE wrong!” Which probably caused the old people in the audience to burst into a light-hearted chuckle, until she abruptly adds, “Oh. And also, I’m dying! Might not make it through Saturday.” Silence.
0:57: Her son makes doubly sure to give mom a RED rose, not a black one, because boy wouldn’t he be embarrassed! We also learn that the slightly balding, manly looking gentleman that was sitting next to her son during the concert WASN’T some creepy pervert on a date with him, but rather his dad. We also learn that mom only wears mock turtlenecks. Like a cartoon…a cartoon that’s dying.
1:04: Newsong’s Dave Attell gets to be the star again and do some more raspy crooning. Somewhere, Bob Carlisle is fuming. “That guy is stealing my sentimental raspy ballad concept! Butterfly kissssssssses after midday prayerrrrrrrrrs!”
(You know you want to.)
Meanwhile somewhere else, Michael Bolton just laughs and fucks his pile of money.
1:17: News anchorman Harry Smith is moonlighting as a doctor.
I make house calls.
He stops by the home to deliver the mom’s death sentence.
Dad: Doctor, what is it?
Doctor: Well it doesn’t look good. It’s sickness.
Mom: Oh my God. I feared it would be sickness.
Dad: But Doctor, how? Just yesterday she was sending our kid on a fade route across the street and pegging the cars of passerbys like she does every Saturday.
Doctor: I’m sorry. The tests came back. It’s definitely sickness. And the kind that makes you die. Quickly.
Mom: Oh my.
Dad: Doctor, is there anything we can do?
Doctor: There is one thing. You need to find this woman some shoes that a Jewish grandma in Boca Raton wouldn’t be caught dead wearing. (Chuckles to self.) “Caught dead wearing.” Oh me. Anyway, if you’ll excuse me, I need to return to The Early Show so that our viewers can watch a live feed of a doctor probing my anus.
1:44: The son (who I’m just going to call “Rusty” at this point) sneaks into his parents’ room to cuddle up in bed with Brad Paisley’s wife. Brad Paisley is too busy fishing to give a shit.
1:50: Rob Lowe is the consummate stock movie businessman. We know this because he wears a coat over his suit and women follow him around through a bustling office while holding his papers and quickly telling him about meetings and messages. And as we all know, movie businessmen simply do not get into the Christmas spirit unless a little boy intervenes.
1:53: Rob Lowe gets a mysterious phone call and looks very concerned. Maybe someone called to say that Mad Men is getting cancelled. Or it was his magic mirror calling to tell him that someone is fairer than he. Or the country club let a black person join.
2:03: In one of the most poignant scenes, we learn that this mom HATES the Boston Red Sox. She won’t even let her kid wear a Red Sox hat at her bedside. She then explains to Rusty that the Red Sox didn’t even make the playoffs last year and are doomed to choke every year.
Mom: Honey, before I die there’s something I need to tell you. The Red Sox suck. They spend millions of dollars every year on teams that fall short. You probably won’t see another contender until after I’m LONG dead.
Son: No, don’t say that! They are making great preseason deals!
Mom: It’s Boston, dear. Enjoy the 2007 World Championship, it’s not happening again for a long time.
Son: No! No! No! (Cries.)
2:28: But Rusty’s not like the Red Sox. He won’t be so easily defeated. (Hi-yo!) After his mother hallucinates that she’s E.T. (“You’ll be here, Elliot.”), Rusty rushes off without any parental supervision to find a cure…or at least footwear that will help him say all the things that words just can’t. Mom and dad have a quick staring contest. We don’t get to see who wins.
2:45: Meanwhile, dad kidnaps mom from the hospital. No way in hell he’s letting the hospital squeeze out another dime when it’s so clear that she’s doomed. He starts crying upon realizing that he could have done this weeks ago and saved way more money to spend on the future new-mom.
2:51: Dave Attell and the rest of the Soggy Bottom Boys are now back at The Grotto. At this point, the other guys in Newsong are starting to wonder why the hell they are even there. They didn’t even bring their instruments, and other than the old bearded hobo, none of them are singing.
Newsong Dude 1: So you’re telling me that for this video, we just stand and/or sit and look in opposite directions?
Lead Singer: Yup.
Newsong Dude 2: You sure you don’t want us to do background vocals or play our instruments?
Lead Singer: Nope.
Newsong Dude 1: Can I wear my sweet ass khaki coat?
Lead Singer: Sure. That’s cool.
Newsong Dude 2: Well, if he’s wearing a sweet ass khaki coat, then I’m wearing MY sweet ass khaki coat too!
Newsong Dude 1: I can never have anything for myself can I? Fine. We’ll all wear our sweet ass khaki coats.
Newsong Dudes: Yay! Agreed!
But then Newsong Dude 4 apparently went rogue and wore his black leather jacket to the shoot and then pretended he didn’t remember them all agreeing on wearing sweet ass khaki coats. I wonder if they ever had to deal with this kind of dissension in Rockapella.
3:03: Thankfully the Christmas shop owned by the old peddler of stolen merchandise is within motivated-child-running-distance from the regional hospital. Being the impulsive kid that he is, Rusty decides that the first item he sees is the thing that he NEEDS to buy. He’s also roughly 12 years old and doesn’t understand the concept of providing a specific amount of tribute in exchange for goods. So, with a pocketful of nickels and quarters he rushes to the cashier.
BUT before we see that interaction, we get the most head-scratching moment in the entire video.
3:20: Rob Lowe is sitting in his darkened office working well after closing time on Christmas Eve. Why there is only one small light on in the entire office, far behind his desk, when he’s obviously going over papers, I have no idea. Then, all it takes is one glance at his watch for Rob Lowe to BOLT out of his chair. For some mysterious reason, he sees a specific time on his watch that reminded him to get the FUCK out of there immediately and go to the Ol Shopkeep’s store.
Rob Lowe: Dum dee dum dee dum. (Glances at watch which shows 8:23 PM.) OH SHIT! 8:23! I’ve only got seven minutes to get down to the store to discover the true meaning of Christmas. This TPS report will just have to wait.
3:29: Rob Lowe bugs a store employee to help him find this urgent Christmas gift…which ends up looking like it’s the board game Monopoly when he approaches the cashier. Rob’s about to walk up to check out when that little kid completely cuts him in line. This family has effectively made Rob Lowe their bitch at this point. Mom tosses footballs at his car, and now Rusty cuts him and when Rob says, “Excuse me,” the kid just waves him off and tells him to fuck off. Then, this preteen tosses a piggybank’s worth of change on the counter and looks up like, “Is that good? We square?”
And then comes my favorite part of the entire video.
3:40: The cashier takes one look at the kid and immediately remembers how awful his life is. In his head he’s thinking, “My wife left me. I’m working at a goddamn disambiguous store on Christmas Eve. And now I’ve got this fucking kid who HAS to be at least 11-years-old throwing a handful of change in front of me that I just KNOW isn’t enough…but now he’s going to make me count it out in front of him. God I hate Christmas. Oh look! Would you imagine that! He’s short at LEAST fifteen bucks. What a goddamn shock. Seriously, fuck my life.”
I honestly feel bad for this cashier. It’s America, not some market in Morocco. But we wouldn’t be listening to this song if the cashier said, “Awww, nuts. You know what, kid? Take the shoes. It’s Christmas, ain’t it?” I’d like to see a version of this where the cashier is the hero…but then Rob Lowe tells the cashier’s boss (since he’s a capitalist dick) and cashier gets fired.
Nope, it’s not gonna go down that way. This story needs a villain. And this clerk seems more than happy to oblige.
3:44: The cashier looks at the handful of change, then back at the kid like, “You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.” After counting, he gives the kid a grimace that says, “Oooooh, so sorry, kid. I really wish the reality of the situation was different. But, eeeeeeeh, you, errrrrr, don’t have enough money.”
But that’s not the best part of this particular scene.
While we’re rooting that this dumbass kid somehow just happened to have the exact amount of change needed to purchase those fugly shoes, a chorus of horror movie children begin to sing. Their frighteningly innocent voices ring out from some ghostly point of purgatory, as if an orphanage just burned to the ground while the children were trapped inside, and as their spirits float in limbo (because they were never baptized) their tormented and damned voices join together. Then, like the human overlord of these dead orphans, the bearded rasp-master from Newsong begins to sing along with them.
I fully expect to have nightmares about this for the rest of my life.
3:59: Rob Lowe may not be wearing a superhero cape, but he’s got a stunning turtleneck, and he saves the day by buying the shoes. Honestly, I really think he’s just impatient, and didn’t want to wait in line for the inevitable conversation that would have taken place:
Rusty: But mister! My mom is going to die tonight and she needs shoes!
Cashier: I’m sorry, kiddo, but whether they’re for a dying mom or not, it’s $26.50. I don’t set the prices here. That weird old man over there selling stolen merchandise does.
Rusty: But she’s dying!
Cashier: Yeah. I get it. It’s still $26.50.
Rob Lowe: Oh my God! Make it stop! I’ll buy the goddamn shoes. I’m a goddamn businessman and I don’t have time for this crap!
4:04: So, Rob Lowe bought the shoes for the kid. At first, in true dickhead form, he sighs as if he’s above all of this, but then all it takes are three magical words from the child to completely shock and freeze him…
“You’re not handsome.”
Just kidding. That would be ridiculous. Rob Lowe is VERY handsome. No, the kid says, “Thank you, mister.” Apparently the fact that the kid didn’t just say, “Yeah, whatever,” then flick him off, causes Rob Lowe to question everything he’s ever thought about Christmas and reevaluate his entire life.
4:17: We are confronted with one hell of a creepy scene. He takes the newly acquired shoes and slides them on what appear to be dead and lifeless feet. For almost 10 seconds, it appears as if he was too late. Mom’s dead. But hey, he got shoes for her. Why not make the corpse feet look nice?
4:26: Whew. Mom’s still hanging in there. She does that crazy-woman E.T. thing again, and Rusty plays along so that she doesn’t realize just how deeply she’s spiraled into lunacy.
4:36: Newsong is pleased with this.
And so are we.