For many of us, the holiday season is a time for stress and anxiety more than merriment and joy. Between the holiday parties, Secret Santas, and familial obligations...there’s just so much to take care of, not enough time to do it all, and you’re meant to skip through it all with a song in your heart and a smile on your face. Deep inside, though, what you want to do it scream.
Retsuko, the rage-filled red panda who stars in Sanrio and Netflix’s Aggretsuko series, is the patron saint for those who find themselves torn between wanting to be social and having virtually zero tolerance for the kinds of mind-numbing bullshit that inevitably comes along with actually trying to be social.
Though Retsuko is an already anxious person by nature, a quickly-approaching Christmas and a newfound addiction to Instagram has her cranked up to 11 in Netflix’s holiday special Aggretsuko: We Wish You a Metal Christmas.
Being the hardworking, painfully-focused person that she is, Retsuko finds herself trapped in her office with a never-ending pile of work to do and a morbid Christmas gift from her terrible boss Mr. Ton.
Though the work is bad in enough in and of itself, We Wish You a Metal Christmas emphasises the degree to which Retsuko’s social media addiction factors into the somewhat new kind of emptiness she feels. The rush of endorphins she experiences whenever her phone lights up to alert her to another “like” is something that Retsuko quickly realises is as fleeting as it is addictive.
More importantly, though, Retsuko also comes to understand how performative one’s existence online can be—and that, while technology is very much a good thing, it need not be the thing that defines a person. We Wish You a Metal Christmas could have very easily fallen back on the tired “social media bad; meatspace good” kind of moralising that folks from certain generations are well-known for.
But instead, it argues in favour of being more thoughtful about just what social media is and how one should let it influence the way they feel.
While some aspects of Retsuko’s life on Instagram are a source of frustration, she does also find joy in the photos that she takes purely for herself.
Zoomed out a bit more, Retsuko scrolling through her Instagram feed is what puts her in the position to have an interaction in the real world with friends she actually cares about. In a way, We Wish You a Metal Christmas is getting at the idea that social media, in some ideal cases, should function as a kind of first step toward real-world interactions.
Then again, it might just be saying “log off.”
Aggretsuko: We Wish You a Metal Christmas is available on Netflix now.