‘Bad Santa 2’ and the real-world bad Santas around us Contemporary Cool Stuff

I’ve become a big Billy Bob Thornton admirer. His role in the first season of Fargo (2014) was brilliant as the maniacal hitman with a callous and crude credo. In Goliath (2016), Thornton excels as a lush lawyer searching for truth and redemption. Let’s hope there are more seasons of the Amazon show with Mr. Thornton.

With that backdrop, and given tis the season to be jolly, it seemed Bad Santa 2 might be a potentially entertaining, albeit debauched, bet on seeing the actor on the big screen. Alas, Bad Santa 2 is truly just “bad”. Even at a time when being politically incorrect is increasingly accepted as indicative of fierce independence—as opposed to racism, sexism or plain ol’ vulgarity and poor form—Bad Santa 2 drives its profane sleigh over the housetops shouting “Screw You and to All a Bad Night!” It epitomizes everything ugly and in-your-face insulting particularly during the Christmas, Mawlid al-Nabi and Hanukkah seasons. A proverbial lump of coal would have been far more rewarding. Unless getting your tinsel in a terrible tangle is the objective, this isn’t the holiday movie for you.

Bad Santa 2

Is there anything redeeming about Bad Santa 2? Nope, but perhaps we can learn something nonetheless. Santa’s namesake, the fourth century Greece (now Turkey) Bishop Nicholas, was so generous that he anonymously and repeatedly dropped bags of gold down the chimney of a poor man in order to finance the dowries of the man’s three single daughters. Inadvertently, as legend holds, the bag of gold fell into a stocking of wood kindling hung to dry. Caught in the act of committing a good deed by the curious father, Bishop Nicholas was subsequently sainted and the story gave way to our almost universally-heralded, generous if no longer mysterious, Santa. It’s ironic and ghastly that bones from this good and giving guy’s grave were actually stolen by thieves in 1087. The sad truth is that there have always been plenty of crooks, criminals and creeps out there.

There are also real life fake, phony—and yes, bad—Santas. While their tactics evolve with technology, the fundamental functions of theft and financial fraud are not only alive, but they thrive.

1—In recent years, charity fraud — whether by the costumed little old men outside malls or by online solicitors through crowd sourcing — has skyrocketed.

Charity fraud can be orchestrated in the name of bogus charities, non-existent organizations, sham colleges and churches, fake fraternal groups, innumerable online giving sites such as GoFundMe, or viral fake news/fake cause Facebook posts. Be alert to spurious holiday raffles. Similarly, be cautious of delivery look-alikes. One could be an impostor just there to make off with packages left at your door. All of these require far more due diligence on our part than the quick size-up most of us do in our holiday rushes to and from parked cars carrying bags of groceries and gifts. A beard, bell and red bucket or cup don’t always mean things are on the up and up.

2—Today, we see fake websites, fake journalism, fake airfares, fake tours, fake hotels and fake holiday rentals. Insecure sites abound where your credit card and personally-identifiable information is cleverly sought. Discrepancies from the genuine name should be a Rudolph-like red flag. Be more diligent than ever about online shopping.

For example, watch out if you are exhausted in a late night search for this season’s hit toy Hatchimal, and discover an eBay or Amazon vendor advertising a low-cost inventory. Buyer beware big time! Similarly, check the email addresses of strangers and note the suffix before clicking to open anything. In what country is the domain hosted? Know with whom you are communicating or with whom you are doing business. Be especially alert to copycat websites resembling famous-name companies. They’ll take your order, and most importantly your credit-card information, but no goods will be forthcoming, and credit-card information may be hastily used for illegal purchases.

Last minute and virtual shoppers are also particularly vulnerable to scams using fake coupons and counterfeited e-gift cards. By the time your nephew attempts to use the card to download music, or your granddaughter the coupon for a pedicure, the counterfeiter is long gone with your cash and credit card information. You are out the dough and will know your loved ones have suffered an awkward moment, at best. Make sure to buy only those cards that have scratch off security codes. They help prevent would-be thieves from copying down the numbers from display racks, and exploiting the cards after they have been activated via the 800 numbers.

3—There even have been on-line swindles where individuals can email or speak live with Santa directly (for the not-so-low price of $20). Santa may even respond to the email. However, your credit card information can be stolen by these sorts of once-a-year fly-by-night operations. Be particularly cautious about exposing children to the scamsters in any way.

As bad as Bad Santa 2 is (and it is truly terrible), the title is worth remembering. During this holiday season, folks become frantic and frenzied. Fraudsters count on us to do just that. Many will become victims to these holiday hoaxes, crass cons and even bad Santas, too. Don’t be one of them.

Bart Chilton on Yahoo Finance


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