It seems not everybody is merry and bright over the release of a new documentary, “I Am Santa Claus,” which focuses on the personal lives of men who portray St. Nicholas at shopping malls during the month of December.
As Vice originally reported, some viewers — many of which are known for playing Santa in their communities — are angered by the inclusion of Jim Stevenson, a 73-year-old Texan Santa who is gay. Many of those viewers have responded angrily on the film’s official Facebook page.
“Only in American (sic) can you make a mess of Santa and get away with it, they are all on my very, very, naughty list and they won’t be getting off of it anytime soon either,” one wrote on Facebook, according to Gay Star News. “Very bad writers, directors and actors as well, bad very bad!!!’
WWE Hardcore Legend Mick Foley, who produced “I Am Santa Claus” and also appears in the movie, defended the inclusion of Stevenson in an interview with The Mary Sue.
“I think there are going to be two types of reactions to Jim: some will be touched by him, and others will have to work hard to convince themselves that they were not touched by him,” Foley, who said he took a break from social media in an effort to circumvent much of the backlash, said. “Jim clearly does an outstanding job of making children feel special.”
Director Tommy Avallone told Vice that he felt much of the backlash was misguided, saying that “any Santa Claus who actually took the time to watch the movie loved it.”
“We never said we were going to make a movie about Santa Claus,” he added. “We’re going to make a movie about the people who portray Santa Claus.”
Ultimately, he didn’t seem fazed by the criticism: “At the end of the day, they’re grandpas and they’re good people. They just have strong opinions.”