Written by: Ron Bricker
It’s official. I give up. Every year I hope. Every season I scheme. Prayers unanswered and jubilation suppressed, I’ve finally come to the ultimate realization that our Christmas will never be about what I want it to be about. No, the Christmas day will never be marked by the exposure of a spoiled 16 year old “princess” who throws a legendary tantrum because she wandered outside to her auxiliary driveway that wonderful morning to find that she’s now the proud owner of a silver Lexus instead of the green one she really wanted. There will never be an expose on the local news channel describing her post-Christmas antics as “maniacal, revengeful and attention driven”. No Channel 7 special investigation into the unrealistic, backwards and self deprecating attitudes the children hold today. Her fellow classmates won’t have the opportunity to stare down the humiliation that’s been brought on their friend and heed in their efforts of over-indulgence and selfishness. And as went with her spoiled pioneers of years past, on December 26th she’ll be trading in her platinum Lexus for the forest green version. Her Dad will apologize to her and the family love will be restored. Until next Christmas.
And as much as I hate that little bitch, she’s not to blame. This is our Christmas. We light big trees publicly. And give gift cards. Men expect a year’s worth of blow jobs for wrapping a car in a giant ribbon. Women expect tenderness for personalizing a set of titanium golf clubs. We’re all a part of it. I’ll admit I’m a part of it too. There are millions in need of food and water, but I NEED wireless, noise canceling headphones so I can get to sleep without thinking of those poor bastards.
So, who is to blame for the current state of our Christmas production? Is it something’s fault or do our actions plainly lie dormant until Black Friday when they can run free, untamed and unjudged, for another month before our collective conscious returns and our blatant selfishness retreats into hibernation (or until public selflessness is in need elsewhere)? Could Christmas just be a simplification of our misprioritization as a society? Has Christmas become the higher up’s way of blatantly illustrating the rights and wrongs of our society; an obvious allusion to selfishness that we, as a whole, are just plain missing? Nay, I say to all of these hypothetical questions. I have the answer. Christmas has become what it has become for one reason: the Christmas movie.
Yes. The Christmas movie. Sure, my argument might be a generalized overreaction and an incredibly easy solution to a very complex and complicated problem, but it doesn’t change the fact that Christmas movies, overall, suck. Regardless of the short and long term effects (or if there are even effects at all) on our culture, collective morals and economy, these shitty films need to stop.
Christmas movies haven’t always brought the words suffer, bludgeon, and revolt to mind. They were once giants. Immovable, with their hope, goodwill and just plain cheerful nature. The characters were classy and honorable. While possessing traits that most men, women and children would strive for, the characters made Christmas feel a certain way; like home (or the idea of it anyway). The audiences didn’t need neon signs to tell them what time of year it was; the warm food, manners and smiles did that naturally.
But somewhere along the line, Christmas movies switched from needs to wants; from intangible to material. Some producer decided that the movie would be more profitable if the young protagonist yearned for a limited edition toy instead of love and care. Gone was the day of Christmas wholesomeness, born was superficial shit.
Today, it seems, the sole purpose of the Christmas movie is to remind us that it is, in fact, Christmas. And because it’s Christmas, the movies suggest, we should focus on the important things. Like buying expensive gifts and feeling good about it because it’s expensive and that’s what love demands. And the importance of exerting all of our energy on elaborate Christmas decorations so everyone else can see how into the Holiday spirit we really are. Its values like these that present day Christmas movies substitute for tradition and symbolism; surviving solely by reminding us that it’s Christmas and it’s time we should start acting like it. Decorations, tradition and material things are fantastic, but it shouldn’t be the story; it shouldn’t be the sole content of the movie.
My bewilderment and frustration don’t lay with the corniness, the acting, the writing or the general ridiculousness of these holiday features. Nor does my annoyance stem from the fact that these movies are popular; that they’re watched by millions ever year. What bothers me, is that those millions are ok with the fact that today’s Christmas movies are a reflection of today’s Christmas; both shallow and unthoughtful. This then leads you to believe that the audiences, the masses, are content with that representation of Christmas. Doesn’t it mean that the majority expects an empty, superficial Christmas also?
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “This guy is an asshole. It’s a Christmas movie not a barometer of our collective worth. Get over it.” I know. I understand that the objective of Christmas movies isn’t to be thought-provoking and world-changing. Their purpose is to be careless and fun. But why can’t they show texture and beauty at the same time? Is a little meaning, a little substance to much to ask for? Well, apparently, yes. But it’s ok. I have a plan while we wait for the revolution against today’s Christmas features.
Instead of watching a Christmas movie because it has Christmas in the title and decorations in every scene, watch a movie that makes you think of Christmas (Sure the movie can contain Christmas themes and elements, but my whole point is that it doesn’t have to). Watch movies that evoke Christmas and holiday feelings on a personal level. Any movie that you, personally, associate with Christmas provides much more meaning than any explicit Christmas movie that that says it does on the back of its box.
Don’t be led blindly by the blinking lights and intricate storefronts. Next time you’re in the mood to sink into the sofa and pop in a holiday flick, think of what makes the holidays important to you. Then watch accordingly. If Christmas makes you think of competition and playfulness rent Deck the Halls. If the holiday season conjures up thoughts of archery, drabness and cold buy The Weatherman. If December produces thoughts of heartbreak and music borrow High Fidelity. You decide what your Christmas movie is supposed to be.
Will this new Christmas Movie watching technique roll into a proverbial snowball that grows and grows with personality, courtesy and honesty until it eventually topples the current Christmas regime and knocks some sense into that little Lexus-craving brat? Probably not. But I know if we’re standing pat, we aren’t going to learn the true lessons of the holidays. We’ll be where we are now, wallowing in our own superficiality. So we start demanding things from our holiday season, instead of accepting what it’s become. We might be able to alter our Christmas landscape into something real. We might be able to change the focus from material to personal. When your priorities are clouded by decorating contests, $2,000 toys and Santa themed lingerie stores you have to start somewhere. And I say we start with Christmas movies. So, sit back, relax and start the Christmas movie that you’ve been waiting to watch.