There’s one holiday tradition we need to end. Every year, we can’t go on social media in December without being inundated with memes complaining about Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” They suggest everything from it becoming an unwanted earworm to it triggering PTSD. I’m no Mariah Carey fan. That’s not why I’m defending her. It’s because three things I do love, Christmas, comedy, and music, are less enjoyable because of the idiotic memes.
For starters, the “joke” relies on shared background knowledge that isn’t real, or even close to it. In order to work, we’d have to believe that every December, everyone hears the song almost constantly even though they don’t want to. Lots and lots of people do listen to the song every December, but they’re doing it by choice. They like the song. It makes them happy. The retail, restaurant, and service employees who don’t get to choose their music also hear it, but no more than any other Christmas song. They probably hear Bing Crosby, Nat “King” Cole, Vince Guaraldi, and others a lot more.
The second thing the memes rely on is that “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is an obviously bad song. That’s not true either. It’s a perfectly fine song. It’s not my favorite style, but it has a pleasant melody, it’s catchy and bouncy, it’s fun. Even if it’s not to your taste, it’s not bad at all. Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby” is way worse (and way overplayed). “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” is worse (and way overplayed). “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is worse (and way overplayed).
Finally, the memes rely on a really off-putting brand of snobbery. It’s not just that they complain about Mariah Carey, they imply that anyone who enjoys the song is uncultured beyond redemption. They imply that there’s something wrong with people who listen to it on purpose. That those people are deserving of ridicule. It’s mean-spirited.
Give Mariah Carey and her fans a break. It’s Christmas. Let’s be nice to each other instead.