Christmas has become the marmite of festivities. Either you love to smear it all over your toast with a side of tinsel, or you keep it in the back of your cupboard for as long as possible until a forgotten auntie forces you to get it out and join in with the 100th rendition of Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Either way, there’s no escaping it.
The movies have a lot to do with Christmas’s polarisation of opinion, because they aid and often encourage the amount of commercialisation behind it. Once again, you either love the build up or come December 25th are ready to strangle the man in red.
So what exactly have the movies been promoting all these years? Very few mention the baby that was born 2000 years ago, and even fewer recognise it as the start of a religion. Instead, here are the top three festive film fixations:
1. Family & The Ones You Love
Got to give motion pictures their dues – they really do try and push everything good, fluffy and loving at Christmas. I guarantee that every Christmas film will, at one point or another, champion families and loved ones as being the most important part of Christmas. By becoming Santa Claus, Tim Allen learns to get closer to his son in Santa Clause. After running around like the action hero he can’t help being trying to get his son a present, Arnold Schwarzenegger realises that spending time with his family is more important than any toy in Jingle All the Way. It’s A Wonderful Life, Elf, Four Christmases etc are all about being with the ones you love. Every Christmas film is trying to make you love your Grandmother that little bit more and appreciate the horrendous jumper she knits you every year. Just go with it, and wear that atrocity with loving pride.
2. Father Christmas
He sees you when you’re sleeping and he knows when you’re awake… because he’s everywhere!! You can’t watch a Christmas film without glimpsing him at least once, even if it is just as a face on a Christmas card. Santa is to Christmas what taxes are to life – a certainty. If you find a Christmas film without him or a piece of his suit making at least one appearance, you’ve stumbled across a rare phenomenon. His hat even shows up in Die Hard. (Points for anyone who knows where…)
3. NOT Presents
Hollywood strives to be moral at Christmas. Presents will always be involved, but children are made to realise that they’re not the most important thing. Jamie gives up his Turbo Man toy – the one Arnie went all Terminator to get – because he only wants to spend more time with his dad in Jingle All the Way. And the only thing Susan wants for Christmas in A Miracle on 34th St? A family! Even in Santa Clause 2, when the adults get all the presents they’d wished for as children, the gifts are simply a symbol for the importance of youth and the ability to believe. Even though shops, toys and the latest technology (I’m waiting for a kid to ask mum for a Kindle in a Christmas movie…)all get their moment in the spotlight, films are striving to show that even though they lead the commercial wagon, they understand what the true meaning of Christmas is (see 1.)
Film is an extremely influential media that alters people’s opinions and has them questioning what they already know. I still blame Disney for my over romanticised view of the world. It’s no surprise then that Christmas on screen adds to the build up of Christmas in reality. The Hollywood Heads have a responsibility to keep a positive view of the festive period. One suggestive blockbuster where Santa kills kids in their sleep could completely alter the season. Kids would stop asking for presents in fear of a murderous man coming down their chimney, shops would go out of business, and before you know it our economy is in ever bigger Reindeer turd than before. No, that’s far too dangerous a prospect.
Christmas movies have a duty to keep the spirit positive and lucrative. And if you’ve decided to be this year’s Bah Humbug, please go about your grumbling quietly; I don’t want you disturbing my gazillionth viewing of Miracle on 34th St.