A Merry Christmas to political correctness

Christmas in Melbourne, Australia 2011 | Intentious

Just over a month ago, Intentious censured the ideology of strict political correctness, vowing to uncover social problems created rather than solved by favouring political correctness over openness and freedom. However, this Christmas, we are pleased to bring you a positive story where the irrational fears of backlash, offense and lawsuits that so often justify a politically correct move, have all but been thrown out. Thrown out, in favour of a marvellously expensive and frankly, impressive proclamation of “Merry Christmas” from the world’s  most liveable city for 2011, the City of Melbourne.

Christmas in the Cities

To what extent do cities acknowledge that Christmas is a Christian festival? This is usually a touchy subject for cities in an openly multicultural society with no official religion. Auxiliary Bishop Christopher Prowse has said that the “tendency to remove the religious aspects of Christmas is a growing but regrettable trend“.

Some Australian government authorities and company executives have been downscaling their celebration of Christmas, especially specifically Christian aspects – such as nativity displays – in order to avoid offence to non-Christians.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore was criticised this year for restricting her Council’s budget on Christmas celebrations to a mere $600,000. Despite this, Sydney still looks very festive, but also extremely “safe” and stripped of any particular faith or cultural significance – so as not to risk offence.

Sydney design agency Boccalatte answered the brief, which called for strictly non-denominational festive messages.

“Our celebrations this year will be bigger and better than ever. So I encourage all Sydney residents, workers and visitors to get involved in the celebrations taking place around the City this festive season,” Ms Moore said of the city’s colourful, modern, non-traditional decorations. It’s still quite euphoric, I have to hand it to them.

Underpinning the Christmas work from Sydney Design Agency Boccalatte is a quirkiness and humour communicated through form, type and colour. On first impression, Boccalatte’s work has a raw vitality that is free from signature styles or ‘designer-isms’. There is an honesty about the projects in that they are not self-conscious.

Desktop Mag had this to say on the brief:

“When living in a multicultural and multifaith society, designing a simple Season’s Greeting can be a complicated task. The designer is required to navigate a sea of political correctness. For Boccalatte, the design considerations of this tender reflected the complexity of the task and, inevitably, the solution. The design had to be vibrant, celebratory and multicultural, while capturing the collective imagination of Sydney with no religious overtones or use of clichéd imagery. The other objective of the brief was to reignite and revitalise Sydney’s retail precinct and re-engage the community in the city.”

So, a win for design, morale and the retail economy, but I can’t help but feel a little bit disappointed that Christianity fails to get a nod on their own holiday along with all the other great modern-day Christmas icons like Santa and the 21-metre high tree. Christmas can be enjoyed by everyone, but it “belongs” to Christians, just like Hanukkah belongs to the Jewish.

Last month, our guest poster Aaron Hackett brought up the irk that the very words “Merry Christmas” are increasingly censored from many workplaces worldwide in order to resist causing potential offense to clients potentially of different or no religion. This trend to dampen and silence is in an effort to keep happy those clients who presumably would withdraw all support for the business if they knew they allowed Christians to freely utter such a word within earshot of their employees, such is the long-lasting impact of causing “offence”.

This notion reminds me of an utterly brilliant skit by world-class comedian, Steve Hughes:

Steve Hughes: “Be Offended!”

“I want to live in a democracy, but I never want to be offended again!”

But this year, Melbourne City Council is baulking the trend. Perhaps key members of council have seen the very video above, had their eyes opened to how unnecessary political correctness is. The result this year is remarkable.

The council says the City of Melbourne has spent $2.6 million dollars Australian Dollars  – more than 4 times Sydney’s spend – on traditional 50’s style decorations and events this festive season Christmas.

Former Lord Mayor of Melbourne John So, has been quoted in past years saying: “When you live in a multicultural society, you should be inclusive and add things to a society, not take things away.

While the Jewish community enjoy an eight-day celebration of Hanukkah, with a community gathering in Federation Square, the president of the Islamic Council of Victoria told The Age that Muslims have no problem with Christians celebrating their faith.

Here is a list of just how far Melbourne has taken their Christmas Festival for 2011 {scroll down for photos}:

  • The iconic Christmas Myer Windows and yes, the respectful inclusion of a nativity scene in the last window.
  • Town halls gift wrapped as giant presents, guarded by giant nutcracker soldiers
  • All famous laneways and arcades adorned across the CBD, with 1.2 tonnes of stars and bauble decorations along Swanston Street alone
  • Transforming the entire City Square on Swanston street into “Christmas Square” using tonnes of Christmas trees and northern hemisphere plants and shrubs
  • A sleigh tram gliding through the streets, completely “pimped out” with “Merry Christmas, Melbourne” declared across it
  • Christmas light projections of gorgeous stained-glass-window scenes and spectacular nutcracker themes transforming the State Library and St Paul’s Cathedral
  • An impressively giant Christmas tree on Collins street
  • A giant, interactive nativity scene in the shape of an enormous pop-out book in “Christmas Square”
  • A weather-proof, double panel LCD screen replaying the Christian “Story of Christmas” for children and passers by (yes, you actually get to hear the names “Mary, Joseph and Jesus” in public)
  • A forest of Christmas trees and red-and-green themed garden with surround-sound speakers cleverly hidden throughout, playing interviews with children on their thoughts of Christmas, both non-religious and religious
  • Santa’s house fitted out with festive workers dressed as elves and Santa himself for the kiddies
  • Southbank pedestrian bridge covered in a giant mistletoe – the perfect place to bring your date for a smooch
  • An enormous $200,000 “Merry Christmas” sign covering the side of Flinders Street station
  • The “Twelve days of Christmas” as illuminated laneway hanging signs in Bourke Street Laneways
  • Red and gold banners up and down all CBD streets
Melbourne Christmas 2011 City Decorations Light Projections St Paul's Cathedral

Cr Kevin Louey helped gift wrap the North Melbourne Town Hall recently, as part of an impressive array of bows constructed by Melbourne sculpture design agency, Lump.

The Spirit of Christmas is back… and it’s about creating a buzz!” Cr Louey said.

“It’s a time when people can relax and enjoy the city.”

While Sydney is still increasing morale and enjoyment very successfully for it’s multicultural city, what I like about Melbourne’s treatment is that the Christmas Festival 2011 is not just giving a respectful nod to the traditional, it’s including it front and centre, despite being as multicultural as it’s peer. This is a proof of concept that political correctness is unnecessary. All faiths – yes, even the minority groups – are actually OK with it. They don’t mind Christians celebrating their festival in public just as much as we don’t mind Jews or Muslims or Hare Krishnas celebrating in public. The future of a successful multicultural, democratic society is not to stamp out all forms of religious practice: it’s to embrace them, encourage their positivity, and show off the enhancement it can bring to a modern society.

Christmas in Melbourne, Australia 2011 | Intentious

The Twelve Days of Christmas, throughout the laneways

The Twelve Days of Christmas, throughout the laneways

Christmas in Melbourne, Australia 2011 | Intentious

Christmas in Melbourne Laneways and Arcades, Australia 2011 | Intentious

Christmas in Melbourne Laneways and Arcades, Australia 2011 | Intentious

Christmas in Melbourne - Federation Square Christmas Tree Forest, Australia 2011 | Intentious

Federation Square "150 Christmas Tree" Installation Forest, Australia 2011 | Intentious

Christmas in Melbourne | Concrete Santa Street Artist, Bourke Street Mall

Christmas in Melbourne | Concrete Santa Street Artist, Bourke Street Mall

Nutcracker Town Hall Melbourne Christmas | Intentious

Nutcracker Town Hall Melbourne Christmas | Intentious

Nativity Scene Giant Book Interactive Melbourne Christmas Decorations Square 2011

The twin LCD panels are on the front of this nativity scene book in City Square

Sydney: while modern and devoid of religious significance, still gorgeous and festive.


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Categories: Beliefs, Morals, Business, Entertainment, Events, Multiculturalism, Politics, Law

Author:Andrew Beato

CEO, Chief Editor and founder of Intentious. Passionate comment enthusiast, amateur philosopher, Quora contributor, audiobook and general knowledge addict.

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