Ep.17: Xmas Story (Notes)

  • Sign outside Catskills lodge: “Children under 90 admitted free”. This adds an additional dimension to the Futurama Age Factor; not only do people never seem to “grow older”, but with signs like these, it seems to suggest that if people aren’t immortal than they at least have dramatically lengthened lifespans.
  • Cohan O’Brian: he lost his legs in the “War of 2012”. One of many military conflicts waged by the future Earth government.
  • Leela remarks that global warming did happen but it was cancelled out by “nuclear winter”. Because later on we see an episode about global warming, we must assume that the global warming she was speaking of was a kind of “first” global warming and that the warming which happened later, is a continued variant of the first warming. Another instance of the dialectic.
  • Amy fetish: wounded athletes.
  • Christmas is an archaic pronunciation, the standard now being “Xmas”. I have explored this concept a bit more on my research blog.
  • Pine trees have been extinct for 800 years, along with the poodle and “modesty”; the new Xmas trees are palm trees. Axes are now laser-based, the batteries, presumably, held in the axe-head; another instance of the past being reformed into new designs once the original has been forgotten.
  • News Spot: homeless robots exist. This is interesting because this implies that robots labor has transcended “tool” and “labor saving device” to be exploitable labor in its own right. This would imply that capitalism has surmounted a very specific phase in its development and re-settled through dialectical oscillation. This is more complex, of course, but it does raise some interesting questions about how the year 3000 economy functions with poor, homeless robots.
  • In 2801, the Friendly Robot Company built the mechanical Santa Claus which went haywire and judges everyone to be naughty (due to a programming error setting his standards too high); why would such a robot need to be built? To make a hypothesis, and this is a bit of a leap: production crisis? Maybe the mechanical Santa was built as part of a elaborate social-democratic scheme? If we consider the idea of a basic income and then consider how such could be built upon in relation to cultural myths and bourgeois hegemony, the idea of a robotic Santa to distribute specific commodities to specific groups of people makes sense; this way, some of the surplus-value is liquidated and the population is pacified while the ruling class emits an aura of culturation and legitimacy.
  • While Fry is in the pet shop we see many different kinds of absurd animals; since in season one we learn from the professor that genetic engineering is “ridiculous”, how are these animals created? Not in nature since some of them are either merely smaller versions of pre-existing animals or imbued with natural properties (like the electric snail). Did they come from alien world?
  • Of the planet Express crew, the only one who receives a present, possibly the only person in the whole world who receives a present, is Dr. Zoidberg (he receives a pogo stick, which is later used to cut a cable and electrocute Santa).
  • Santa performs “over 50 megachecks per second”. Whatever this means, it implies that Santa is a high-functioning machine.
  • When Bender and his homeless crew are singing carols outside the cat woman’s house, they allude to “a traditional glass of hard cider”. This makes sense, since they are robots and liquor to them is essentially caffeine, but it is still an interesting question on how robot singing became essential to the new Xmas; I imagine it was part of the ruling class’s offensive to legitimate themselves culturally and economically during whatever crisis previously transpired. This suggests that labor-power was either in short supply or it was needed elsewhere. My guess is that there was a kind of “third” industrial revolution concerning robotic labor and human labor was tied up in building factories and robots (hence the singing robots to maintain morale among the civilian sector and Santa to maintain the cultural myths) but after the boom came a depression, hence the homeless robots.
  • Bender and his homeless crew rob the cat woman. Is revealed that she has two former husbands and either children, grandchildren, or nieces and nephews (one young boy and one young girl).
  • Literary Reference: the sale of hair for combs references Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities (?). Correct me if I am wrong; I know it is a reference to something, but I have only heard of this plot via secondhand sources. Together, with the Tiny Tim robot referencing Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol, there is ample love for literature in this episode, especially with the linguistic change from Christmas to Xmas apparent.
  • As seen through Tiny Tim, robots can feel hunger and apparently eat human food to satisfy their urgings, despite the fact that robot food exists. How is this? Through matter transformation? (Matter to energy?) Also: Bender’s cooking comes from roadkill (“I found it lying in the street, like all the food I cook”).

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