A Shark May Not Teach You Lessons About Goodness Like Santa Clause Does, But It Might Eat Your Head

Image (partial) by © Alex Fleisig. See more of his work here on his blog.

Christmas in July is a superficial, commercial non-event, so why not celebrate a new Shark Week holiday, a holy season you can really sink your teeth into?

Shark Week begins Sunday, 01 August. Find the scheudule and more here on the Discovery Channel website.

Name any authentic holiday, and I’ll show you an event likely overshadowed by commercialism. For example when it comes to Christmas in July, with the accompanying images of a Father Christmas decked out in a bathing suit and shade – shilling for retail outlets with big, big saving – well, the commercialism is the event.

There is some good that may come from the manufactured holy season, and it warms my chilly cockles to see major league baseball doing some good for charity recently with their Christmas in July gimmick, which included Santa Claus throwing out the first pitch at the Cleveland Indians game against the Tampa Bay Rays. By-and-large, though, the non-holiday is a hollow attempt to get sheeple interested in spending money and celebrating for no particular reason.

Not that I’m opposed to that. In fact, I understand that with the shape of things lately, we probably need a Christmas every month just to keep the economy afloat. We can do better than Christmas in July, though. What is Christmas in July celebrating anyhow? Jesus Christ was born and Christians party down for that event in December, so July must be commemorating... what? When Jesus gets back from his vacation in Branson, Missouri? (I’m joking, of course; Jesus strikes me more as a Cabo vacationer and not someone who would go to Ned Flanders’ Las Vegas).

So if we need something to celebrate to stimulate the economy, and we do, we as a society should be more creative with our blatantly crass commercial efforts to get people to open their wallets. After all, simply rehashing a perfectly good December holiday is lazy.

Although I’m all for crass commercialism, it’s slightly frustrating to hear Frosty the friggin’ Snowman playing at the walk-up Italian ice window when it’s 578 degrees Fahrenheit out. Perhaps I’m a curmudgeon, but I’d rather not hear about a frozen “jolly happy soul” while I slosh around in the puddles of sweat produced in my sneakers.

Instead of Christmas in July, and bothering Jesus with yet another event to attend, I humbly suggest we give in to the excessive, overblown mentality of summer pop-culture and create an all together new and explosive holiday to celebrate.

I give you Sharkmas. Or Sharkmukkah. Or … Shar-kwanzaa.

Let’s start with the basics: Shark Week.

Instead of the eight days of Hanukkah, the seven days of Kwanzaa or the four weeks of the Christian Advent, I say the core calendar of the new holiday should be built around Discovery Channel’s annual celebration of the ocean’s coolest inhabitants.

Beginning on Sunday, 01 August, Shark Week already has the great tropes of a holy day; each night, beginning at 9PM, ET, another story is told involving the arrival of a maneating predator. Sharks may not teach important lessons of history, tradition, gratitude, and they won’t deliver humanity from its sins, but they might eat your head. There has to be some lesson involved with that. Like other fun holidays, there is even a touch of the magical involved in Shark Week. In the Ultimate Air Jaws program on Sunday, there's a great white that flies (sorta).

In spite of their celebratory-inspiring gloriousness, sharks alone aren’t enough to replace the schlock of Christmas in July. To be a far superior summer celebration, there needs to be an element of gift-giving involved to counteract the Anti-Claus holiday – and to get consumers to spend the green and swip the plastic.

Since July is still part of the Hollywood blockbuster season, there also needs to be a healthy dose of inanity surrounding the new holiday. Which brings me to Nicolas Cage. (Let’s be honest, most reasoned arguments always get around to him soon or later anyhow.)

Christmas has the wise men, so the new July celebration needs some sort of wizarding trio who informs the sharks of Shark Week of their immense importance. Who better to lead this trio than Cage?

Despite the hokey, paper-thin plot of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Cage was as engaging as ever in the shoes of Merlinian magician Balthazar. If he could instill gravitas into the line delivery of “Not the bees!” in The Wicker Man remake, surely he would be believable as a traveling wizard on the high seas (sailing with his crab fisherman crew on the Time Bandit or Cornelia Marie from Deadliest Catch) who talks to giant fish during the Week of the Shark.

To round out the trio of shark wise men, there would be the uber-cool Old Spice Guy, Isaiah Mustafa, and perhaps Tracy Morgan as the comedic wizard who always gets mixed up in wacky hijinks. If the wizards have a hard time finding the sharks, then Police Chief Brody will fire a flare like the Star of Bethlehem into the sky for guidance – all while Captain Quint backs him up with Shark Week carols of “Spanish Ladies” and “Show Me the Way to Go Home”.

So what of the gifts that would inspire the world to commemorate each July with our own summer exchanges? Well that’s the best part.

Instead of gold, frankincense and myrrh - which probably melt and get all gooey in high temperatures – the wise men Cage, Morgan and Old Spice will feed the sacred sharks celebrities who have sinned against tasteful popular culture and society as a whole.

Imagine it: Chum-wrapped gifts of Mel Gibson, Lindsay Lohan and even the entire “Jersey Shore” cast. For traditionalists who would still miss frankincense, myrrh and gold, the story might have it that Cage tossed the sharks a pot-soaked Paris Hilton and a Glenn Beck weighed down with the goods from his Goldline endorsement.

Thusly entertained and inspired, each year we’d spend, spend, spend and float retailers until December’s real Christmas. The new July holiday would be a celebration to give thanks to Nicolas Cage and the wizards, and to the sacred Air Jaws sharks. We would honor them and follow the Holy Shark Week example of eating unnecessary celebrities through symbolic exchanges of unwanted, overpriced, crappy products.

Yup, sign me up and send me a Hallmark, because Shark Week is at least more sincere than the superficial Christmas in July. ‘Tis the season for sharks, so Merry Shar-kwanzaa to all, and to all a good bite.





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