Recently I was having a walk with my family around Marienplatz, the main shopping area in Munich. Accompanied by three little girls (aged 1, 4 and 6), we couldn't possibly miss the annual Christmas window display at Galeria, Munich's premier department store.
Every year the store's seasonal display features a different selection of cute animated puppets showing animals engaged in various activities and professions. As you can imagine, both children and adults alike love it and it is a pleasure for parents to answer the often incisive questions which kids can pose.
"Daddy, what is he doing?"
"This one is a carpenter; he is cutting wood to build a roof for the house."
"Like Joseph in the Bible"
"And the squirrel with the hammer?"
"He is building a rocking chair so he can sit in front of the fire"
"What about the polar bear with the money in his hand"
"Ah yes, well he is paying the bunny prostitute for services about to be rendered"
Oh dear. Obviously that last sentence never escaped my lips, but the innocent question posed by my child left me at a loss for words. At first, I couldn't believe what we were looking at. My wife and I thought that we had misinterpreted something and we franticly looked around for an explanation, a hidden dimension to the scene which would explain what the deviant polar bear was really up to. However, after talking with other shoppers beside us, we had to face the reality that the hot little bunny leaning against the lampost was in fact a prostitute, and Mr. Polar Bear was a potential punter handing her a bill of 10 Deutsche Marks. I suspect the little monkey playing the accordion might have been the pimp.
I know prostitution is legal in Germany and one can see brothels in various central places in Munich, but frankly I would prefer those things not to turn up in a Christmas window display aimed at children. What could possibly be the motivation for including a scene like that?
How does one explain this scene to a child? Not to mention the further questions which will inevitably arise. As for social responsibility, should the bunny not be holding a condom to ram home the inter-species safe sex message?
If future Christmas window displays show every single legal activity occurring in Munich, I have a proposal for next year. What about Snow White getting it on with the seven dwarves, a different position for each dwarf. How educational would that be for the kids, not to mention the adults!
I hope the company which creates the window display will read my suggestion and gain inspiration from it.
I cannot wait to come back next year, without the kids, to have my horizons expanded.
Editor's note: Galeria responded to a request from The Munich Times, to comment on this years Christmas window display. They inform us that the teddy bear company, Steiff, designed the display (which depicts a fantasy street scene in Hamburg), and it has been displayed four times in the last 10 years. In that time not one negative comment has been received, says the spokesperson for Galeria. Nevertheless, to avoid offence, the display has been modified to remove the reference to prostitution.