True to tradition, Google celebrated Christmas by doing its utmost to ignore it. The search giant’s Christmas Day Google Doodle portrayed neither Christ, nor the nativity, nor Santa, nor Frosty. Instead the homepage cartoon depicted two penguins, a parrot, and a toucan. Fa la la la la, la la, la la.
What do tropical birds have to do with the Incarnation? Google explains the bizarrely titled “Holidays 2017 Day 2” cartoon: “Our favorite penguins couldn’t be more excited to reunite with their loved ones. Happy to be together for the season of cheer, this colorfully feathered family can’t wait to sink their beaks into a delicious feast. Check back next week to see how this avian crew rings in the new year!” We’ve come a long way since Clemente Clarke Moore and Charles Dickens.
Google has never once in its 19 years of Doodles depicted the central symbols of Christmas, religious or secular: no Jesus, no Santa, no reindeer, no elves, no Mary, no Joseph, no angels, no bells, no magi, no shepherds, no tinsel, no trees, no oxes, no asses, no stars, and no wreaths. But this euphemistic vagueness is selective. While Google refashioned Christmas as “Holidays Day 2” and December 18 — a date of no significance beyond the 2,235th anniversary of Hannibal’s victory at the Battle of the Trebia during the Second Punic War — as “Holidays Day 1,” it offered a specific Doodle to celebrate the Winter Solstice on December 21. Other distinctive Doodles in recent weeks acknowledge the birthdays of Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib, transvestite actress Marlene Dietrich, Bengali feminist writer Begum Rokeya, and Mexican socialist politician Elvia Carrillo Puerto, in addition to Kazakhstan Republic Day, Kenyan Independence Day, and the work of the proto-feminist Sardinian poet Grazia Deledda.
Google generated $58.7 billion in digital ad revenue last year, constituting 30.9% of the total worldwide digital ad market. It garnered $47.57 billion in search ad revenues, constituting 55.2% of the worldwide search ad market. At the same time, it has executed a rapid campaign to demonetize and censor conservatives throughout its many properties, including video giant YouTube. Google has a near-monopoly on data — that is, information — in the Information Age, and it uses that virtually unchecked power to advance a cultural and political agenda. One dreads what such concerted campaigns portend for “Holidays Day 2” and other cultural ballasts in the years to come.