A Literary Analysis of “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells”
They say all you really need to know, you learned in Kindergarten.
One of the things everyone learns in Kindergarten is that there are other — funner — words to “Jingle Bells.”
Sure, “Jingle Bells” is a beloved old chestnut of a Christmas song.
But “Batman Smells” is loved on a deeper level because it gets right to the heart of chaotic side of the Holidays.
What is it about these lyrics that speaks to us on such a primordial level? Let’s take a deeper look at our favorite Christmas song and try to find out.
First of all, don’t forget what waiting for Christmas was like as kid.
The never-ending nights of Advent. All this “nice-not-naughty” surveillance talk. So much sensory overload. And the waiting. And the waiting. It was all torture.
Thus, in the mind of a child, when “Batman Smells” emerges on the playground, it’s like pure, sugary, human escapism.
In other words, Batman Smells is the perfect pressure-release valve encapsulating the original trinity of childhood delights — Christmas, Super Heroes, and potty talk.
The Origins of Batman Smells
For backstory, the original version of beloved old “Jingle Bells” was written by James Lord Pierpont in the 1850’s.
Perhaps then, “Jingle Bells” was destined for a naughty future from the outset.
In reality, those three extra titillating verses about “Miss Fanny Bright” and “cracking into the lead at two-forty speed” — play more like a 19th century Beach Boys diddy than the wholesome Christmas Jingle we know.
Meanwhile, Robert Smith and Rob Weir traced the origin of the flatulent, Dark Knight-inspired revision “Batman Smells” to the mid-1960s, when Adam West and Burt Ward first starred in the Batman TV Series.
The Smith-Weir hypothesis is essentially that “Batman Smells” first appeared on the playgrounds of California in December 1966, coinciding with the TV Series.
Fast forward to 1989, and we find that “Batman Smells” was famously sung within the first two minutes of Season 1, Episode 1 of ‘The Simpsons’!
That’s right, “Batman Smells” is our very first introduction to Bart Simpson. No wonder we immediately formed a deep, loving bond with his character.
Ode To Joy
In the last five years, I’ve had the joy of both my sons serenading me, out of the blue, with “Batman Smells.” They learned it on their own. And brought it to me like a house cat with a finch.
Let me tell you — few surprises in fatherhood are as serendipitous and elicit quite as unique a sense of pride and heart-warming joy.
For I could tell — via the vigor with which they sang — like their father and Bart Simpson before them, that Batman Smells is their true favorite Christmas Carol. And further confirmation that singing Batman Smells is totally worth the risk of banishment to the naughty list.
It appears there’s undeniable truth lurking in these words. Let’s investigate!
Batman Probably Actually Smells, and Other Observations
Which begs the question, What is it about these lyrics that speaks to us on such a primordial level? Let’s take a deeper look at our favorite lyrics and try to find out.
“Jingle Bells, Batman Smells”
Here’s a logistics question — How many times does he wear that suit before taking it to the dry cleaner? It’s not like Batman is simply sitting behind a desk in that thing. It’s not Mr. Rogers’ Cardigan. No, he’s fighting for his life in it. It’s made of rubber and Kevlar. He’s sweating his ass off inside it.
Let’s face it, Batman probably smells worse than a carload of hockey pads with the windows up on a hot summer day. Stay downwind from the bad guys Batman! Lest they… sense your presence.
Unless… you chose to read that “Smells” as a verb — as in, “Batman has smelled something.” Which leads us to…
“Robin laid an Egg.”
Honestly, is there a better pun in the entire English lexicon?
Did Robin get a bad breakfast burrito from the McDonald’s drive thru? Why doesn’t Robin have any Robin’s-egg-blue on his uniform? In reality, this lyric cuts to the core of Robin. When you think about it, he’s a pretty hapless Super Hero.
And without significant quickness, or any super powers, his lack of size must be a detriment to his crime fighting ability. So… perhaps his flatulence is due to all the protein shakes he drinks to try and bulk up?
Unless.. you chose to read “the egg” Robin lays as being a statistical goose egg — as in, Zero, no points? Either way it alludes to his relative lameness at superheroism.
But truly, is there a more famous fart in history than Robin’s egg?
“The Batmobile Lost a Wheel”
Okay, who forgot the lug nuts!? C’mon Robin, again?! … Have you ever seen a car lose a tire while driving 70 mph down the interstate? I have, it’s terrifying. The tire keeps going, but the car doesn’t, and it’s all like a big sparkler.
Which begs the questions, where does Batman even store the spare tire on the Batmobile? Maybe they mean the steering wheel?!
“Oh screw it mensch… just call an Uber.”
“And The Joker Got Away.”
It is at this moment that you realize our Christmas diddy was written from the perspective of The Joker.
He’s batshit crazy, so don’t let the third-person narrative fool you. From the Joker’s perspective, this lyric evokes the quintessential Holiday feeling — the truest gift of Christmas — that all is right in the world.
Batman and the Joker are the mythological adversarial brothers, like Apollo and Artemis, Thor and Loki, Yin and Yang. They embody Order and Chaos.
Christmas is all about traditions — layered on traditions, layered on traditions. Perhaps all that Order and Tradition stacked up on our backs is exactly why the Holidays are so stressful and chaotic?
Thus, in the final analysis, “Batman Smells” serves the important role of being a little escape hatch for all our inner-Kindergarteners from the everlasting, crushing effort of staying on the Nice list.