I’m looking at a listing for an “alternative” Elf On the Shelf outfit, based on the popular horror movie It, which is helpfully titled “Scary Clown Elf Costume - Doll Outfit - Christmas Elf Outfit.” The seller boldly asks: “Has your child been a bit naughty this Christmas season? Maybe this scary clown doll outfit will get them back in line!” From the looks of it, hundreds of parents have bought the murderous child tormentor clown to enrich their children’s future therapists. One review proudly informs potential buyers that “my daughter’s face when she saw the elf was priceless,” while another simply adds that “it is really cute.”
“Scary Clown Elf Costume - Doll Outfit - Christmas Elf Outfit” is just one of the many handmade accessories available from online retailers—primarily Etsy—for parents keen on placing their child in a panopticon-like surveillance state, all from the comfort of the home. If one desires a Pikachu sweater, or covid-19 mask, or Among Us spacesuit for their Elf on the Shelf, they would practically drown in the overwhelming amount of options, which range from slightly creepy to abjectly terrifying.
For parents interested in the macabre, there are very angry looking skeletons:
Or military paraphernalia, for whatever an elf wants to hunt. Children??????????????
For anti-maskers and virulent racists, there are also MAGA elves, which is a reality I am not quite ready to grapple with yet. Although, I guess it’s unsurprising that people flying “thin blue line” flags would willingly invite a cop into their homes. I would, however, contest that any Trump elf would willingly wear a mask. Perhaps that’s part of the artistic statement?
Somewhere, Trump is probably screaming at one of his handful of aides: “We are saying Merry Christmas again with the beautiful elves, just terrific elves on their shelves, and the people love us for it, they really do. The elves are back. Nancy Pelosi wanted to put the elves on a table but I said no, they go on the shelf. And they are, they are on the shelves now.”
For the millennial parent, and the terminally online, and maybe also the homophobic evangelical, there are Chick-Fil-A sweaters, as well as ones for Baby Mr. Peanut?
For the kids that won’t listen, or the parents desperate to look cool, sellers have also produced a line of Among Us costumes, based on the hit video game where friends attempt to murder each other in secret.
As for more traditional accessories and accoutrements to the Elf on a Shelf experience, parents this year have been offered “Printable Elf Rapid COVID-19 tests,” like this one:
And then for parents worried that... I don’t know... and elf might get deported... or something... there are legally binding adoption papers to prove an elf’s citizenship:
There are also dozens of “quarantine kits” for elves, like this one, which one parent describes as “super comfy” for the elf. I’m sure, but did they ask that before or after the poor thing suffocated to death?
The fact that Elf on the Shelf has congealed into a bloated monstrosity of popular mass hysteria and collective social panic is unsurprising. As an object meant to extend the surveillance state into the interior lives of children, the all-consuming horror of global imperialism and a militaristic police force pairs quite nicely with little MAGA sweaters and printable covid-19 tests for dolls.
Still, a serial killer clown is a bit too on the nose, right? At the very least, parents should opt for the Among Us costume this year. After all, a game about murdering your friends is a lovely illustration of the war for resources and basic needs most children will endure some 20 years from now, when the world is an irradiated husk with nothing but Elf on the Shelf to show for once-modern society.