"Santa Claus and the Surveillance State"
He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake.
And that’s the whole point of the Elf on the Shelf, the bright-eyed, Kewpie-esque doll that millions of parents display around their homes in December as a reminder to children to behave. The elf, the story goes, is an agent reporting back to Santa Claus, and he’s tasked with documenting any seasonal misdeeds for his jolly boss.
The elf also, a new paper argues, promotes acceptance of a surveillance state. An excerpt from co-authors Laura Pinto and Selena Nemorin:
Children…may not touch the doll, and they must accept that the doll watches them at all times with the purpose of reporting to Santa Claus. This is different from more conventional play with dolls, where children create play-worlds born of their imagination, moving dolls and determining interactions with other people and other dolls.
Instead, the elf encourages children “to accept or even seek out external observation of their actions outside of their caregivers and familial structures.”
Merry Christmas, everyone.