Festivus Creator Fires Back at Conservative Critics
“Seinfeld” Writer Takes on Conservative Outrage Over Holiday Festivus Pole Protests
By Asawin Suebsaeng
A fake holiday popularized by Seinfeld has become the symbol of secular pushback against religious dominion over American public life. Or something like that.
The Wisconsin and Florida state capitols currently have Festivus poles on display. To the uninitiated, the Festivus pole is a key component in the celebration of Festivus, a bizarre and agonizing December 23 holiday made famous by “The Strike,” a 1997 episode of the beloved NBC sitcom Seinfeld. Since the episode aired, the holiday has taken on a life of its own. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has thrown Festivus fundraisers, for example. And at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee on Wednesday, self-proclaimed “militant atheist” activist Chaz Stevens erected a 6-foot Festivus pole made out of empty Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans in the state house rotunda in protest of the privately funded nativity scene at the capitol.
Harry Mihet, of the “religious liberty” law firm Liberty Counsel, called Stevens’ views “extreme” and his display offensive. “Is this how PC we’ve gotten in our society, really?” Fox News host Gretchen Carlson said on Tuesday. “I am so outraged by this. Why do I have to drive around with my kids to look for nativity scenes and be like, ‘Oh, yeah, kids, look. There’s Baby Jesus behind the Festivus pole made out of beer cans!”
So what does the man responsible for the world’s long love affair with Festivus think about all of this?
“Am I to understand that some humanoid expressed outrage that the baby Jesus was behind a pole made of beer cans?” Dan O’Keefe, who co-wrote the Seinfeld episode, tells Mother Jones. O’Keefe (whose other credits include The League, The Drew Carey Show, and Mike Judge’s upcoming Silicon Valley comedy on HBO) claims he hadn’t even heard the Festivus-pole protest news until Mother Jones reached out to him. But having Googled around a bit, he’s rendered a verdict.
“Both displays have equal right to be there,” he says. “But, you know, the Fox News outrage machine kicked into high gear, and I’m sure there were some hair-sprayed talking heads bobbing up and down, being outraged about it.”
More at Mother Jones