Put another log in this fire of Tickle Me Elmo: Man puts dark twist on holiday tradition

It’s a dark and fiery twist on the classic Yule log, but according to the mind behind the 'Shit Fireplace,' this fire is leaving something of a warm burn in people’s hearts.

Watching the destruction of junk has become part of families' Christmas celebration, says Eric Hill

Tickle Me Elmo was among the hapless, mass-produced items that went up in flames during an annual holiday film production. (shitfireplace/Instagram)

It's a dark and fiery twist on the classic Yule log, but according to the mind behind the "Shit Fireplace," this fire is leaving something of a warm burn in peoples' hearts.

Regina's Eric Hill has been filming the destruction of kitschy garbage and dollar-store junk for the past three years, and he says his annual video has become a holiday tradition for some.

"Every year around this time, I'll get messages from people that are going home for the holidays," he told CBC Radio's The Morning Edition.

"They'll send me a photo of them and their entire family opening presents while it's playing in the background."

Eric Hill says he finds it bizarre, but somehow, his holiday video of burning junk has touched a strangely positive chord with some families. (Submitted by Eric Hill)

If this was a holiday movie, it'd be more Bad Santa than It's a Wonderful Life. It embraces its inner crap, according to Hill. 

"We wanted it to be this completely opposite reaction to the slick fireplace videos. It has an ethos. It can't be too good," he said.

"The heart of shit fireplaces is it's not a great fire. It's a lot of garbage."

This year, Hill took submissions from people of objects to incinerate, including a loaf of Wonder Bread and his personal favourite, 150 wedding invitations with the wrong date.

Hill and video co-creator Jeff Meldrum also buy things from the dollar store, with placards proclaiming "Love" and "Joy" rendered ashes.

"We don't think about it too much. We want the objects to speak to us, to tell us to be burnt," said Hill.

There is a portrait of Persian cats, peering forlornly out into the distance as the flames consume their cuteness.

A Tickle Me Elmo is tossed in, the soundtrack of his laugh warping to disintegration.

"I was a bit on the fence about destroying that one," Hill confesses. But it's become a hit, perhaps partly with long-suffering parents finding catharsis in Elmo's bleak end. 

"A lot of people think that's the climax of the video and tell me how much they appreciate the moment."

At the end of the long, slow burn, nothing remains. A mournful dirge plays, before the fire is doused, oozing puffs of smoke and the charred, smoky remains of sentimental kitsch.

It's a quintessentially shitty end for the "Shit Fireplace" but perhaps Hill puts it best: "There's something kind of funny, dark and maybe poetic about it."