Christmas lights: suburban art or tat?

by awindram

[tweetmeme source=”awindram” only_single=false] They’ve outdone themselves. They really have. No simple fairy lights for some in the Central Valley this Christmas. I had hoped and expected Americans to be a little more grandiose with their Christmas displays, but I didn’t expect anything quite like this.  Driving around town I came across these houses and what can one possibly add about these powerful examples of the Christmas light medium at their finest other than that simple word – why? In their complexity – the months of planning and programming required as well as the assumed overheads – they go way beyond mere homeowner pride, or neighbourly one-upmanship, or Yuletide enthusiasm that any psychiatrist would consider healthy. If I were any more of a pretentious arse than I already am, I might even have hypothesised these displays as encroaching onto outsider art territory (Waldemar Januszczak probably would. John Carey would say that it’s art so long as I claim it is. I’d then ask Carey if this has anything to do with John Donne otherwise he should keep his thoughts to himself). They’re certainly something, and despite it all, and my thoughts that the displays and accompanying paraphernalia possibly cost more than the actual houses they’re displaying, I do think they’re rather wonderful – but then I don’t live next door to these people. As you watch these videos (which, I add, do scant justice to the lights), pity the poor neighbour. Picture him there, twitching on the living room floor after a Christmas lights induced seizure, praying for the sweet release of a power outage.