MY BUTT’S A CHRISTMAS MOVIE (AND YOU CAN WATCH IT ALL YEAR ‘ROUND)

Every goddamn year.  

Some people do it because they’re just killing time. Some people do it because they’re strangely militant about what is or isn’t. Most people do it for the easy clicks or engagement. It yields a maximum of interaction with a minimum of effort.   

Let me end this for you quickly and decisively.

Die Hard (and its sequel Die Hard 2: Die Harder, because that is the full, proper name of that motion picture and don’t you ever forget it) is a Christmas movie. I knew it as a kid. I know it now. Anyone saying otherwise is willfully obtuse.  

The driving force of the movie is a man seeking redemption and reconciliation with his family over the holidays. He was selfish, more devoted to his job than his children, had no faith in his wife, and reckons with his bad behavior (at least before he blows it for plot/payroll reasons in later films.) It’s like How the Grinch Stole Christmas except that thieves (who said they were terrorists?) make McClane realize the error of his ways instead of the delirious caroling of Whos. Or, ghosts, if you’re more of a Dickensian.  

I like to sing along with “Let it Snow” at the end.  

The secret of critical theory is that you can make a case for anything you want to as long as you provide evidence from the text.  That’s all it takes. 

It helps if you aren’t completely taking things out of context, at least if you’re interested in making an academic argument, but it doesn’t much matter if you do. The internet broke all that long ago.  

What really blows my mind is when people ask, usually to no one and everyone on social media, “Is (insert movie here) a Christmas movie?” And then actually take what other people have to say on the subject seriously.  Once you abandon a purely critical context, it’s all fair game. You’re firmly in the realm of opinion. Opinions, as everyone already knows, vary by quality, depth, and appeal. Some opinions outright stink, and others can be stretched beyond all recognition. Some even blow out if you bear down on them.  

Opinions are like silicone baking molds.   

There’s any number of films that take place around the month of December to choose from if you’re burned out on the classic family fare. I’ll generally watch all of the traditional holiday specials, and won’t watch any full-blown “Christmas movies” but plenty of Christmas movies. I just wrapped up the twofer of Prometheus and Alien: Covenant and there will be a “Sly Christmas” double feature of First Blood and Rocky IV. Iron Man 3 is another favorite. Do I care that most people bash that movie? No, because their arguments are weak and the world could end at any moment.

My favorite Christmas movie, though, the one that means the most to me, doesn’t take place at Christmas at all but does have a lot of popping in and out of chimneys. It just happened to air around then when I was a kid. I watched it with my mother and father and the associations stuck. When I was out of the house and started putting up my own Christmas trees, I honored that memory by creating my own tradition and I have done so ever since.

Every year when I put up my Christmas tree, I watch Mary Poppins. It’s been over two decades. Poppins carries the baggage of my entire life in that carpetbag of hers. It hit me pretty hard this time; my eyes might have sprung a leak at the third note of the overture. It’s a movie about a family with a father who is selfish, more devoted to his job than his children, doesn’t have faith in the abilities of his wife, and reckons with his bad behavior by the movie’s end. Why does that sound so familiar?

So, unless poring over every bit of Christmas imagery in a movie to fit someone’s arbitrary criteria is your jam, you don’t need to wait for the judgment of a few hundred of your closest strangers.

Most of them won’t know their silicone baking molds from a hole in the wall.