I thought it was a joke.
Nearly 10 years ago on a public forum of about ten guys talking mostly sports, the subject of Christmas movies came up. And someone mentioned Die Hard. “Ha!” I thought. “What a jokester!”
Boy was that an underreaction. He was serious! For days, maybe weeks, and for dozens, maybe hundreds, of posts we argued about whether this film was in fact a “Christmas movie”. During which time I think I had this facial expression:
Or maybe this one:
Or maybe this one:
In the intervening years, I’ve seen people try to pass off Gremlins the same way. I can almost even begin to consider to Gremlins, but I’m not there yet, and I probably never will be. I will never, ever agree to Die Hard. Here are Five Reasons why:
1. Technicalities do not equal reality.
“It happened during Christmas!” “There were Christmas trees in one scene!” “There was snow on the ground!”
If someone from Maine comes down South and wants “an SEC game day experience” during football season and I take them to a 2014 Vanderbilt game vs. Middle Tennessee State, I have done what they asked. But did I really? If it’s December 4th in Chicago and it’s 12 degrees with inches of snow on the ground, am I going to say, “It’s not Winter!” because of some lame solstice reasoning? Does anyone really consider Miami a part of “The South”? NO!
Same for this. Reality trumps everything.
2. Horror, Violence, Extreme Language, etc. are all contrary to both religious and secular imagery of “Christmas.”
[McCaine drops a C-4 that causes an explosion and death.]
[Stripe boils in a fountain after Gizmo kills him with sunlight.]
“All is caaaaalm. Aaaalll is bright…”
[HIPPY KI YI YAY $%*#@$!!!]
“Sleeeeep in Heavenly pea-eace…”
See? It just doesn’t fit. It assaults my sensibilities to include R-rated culture as a part of Christmas. I get that Christmas is a rough time for some people, but I would imagine that we have entertainment in part to get away from that.
3. Christmas has a spirit and it is easily recognizable.
US Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart said years ago that he could not define pornography but knew it when he saw it. I think the same is true for a lot of topics, including what is and isn’t a Christmas movie. Christmas, both secular and religious, has a certain “goodness” to it that these movies lack. As a friend of mine stated once, “If you have to think about it, it probably isn’t a Christmas movie.”
It’s A Wonderful Life, Elf, A Christmas Story, etc. don’t have this problem and never will.
4. Beyond the idea of “spirit” idea, Christmas movies have Christmas themes that drive the plot.
“Ernest Saves Christmas.” “The Grinch Steals Christmas.” “Regular Joe has to become Santa Clause during Christmas.” Somehow “Hans Gruber takes hostages, shoots people and tries to steal $640 million dollars” and “Mutant green monsters terrorize a small town with a tractor plow” don’t have the same effect.
5. Accepting Die Hard and Gremlins opens up Pandora’s Box.
Rambo: First Blood happens around Christmas and the town is all decorated. Christmas movie! Iron Man 3 occurs near Christmas. Christmas movie! The Godfather has Christmas in it. Christmas movie! Are we really going to say that any movie with ANYTHING related to Christmas is a Christmas movie? We may as well consider Seth McFarlane’s Ted because it has a teddy bear and teddy bears are often children’s gifts and we give gifts at Christmas. CHRISTMAS MOVIE!!!!!!
I think Bruce Willis is an All-American action-adventure legend and I probably would shake in my boots if I ever met him. I will love Alan Rickman til I die for his immaculate portrayal of Severus Snape. Gremlins was the first movie I saw in the theater and I own original 1984 Gremlins books with records included because I love that movie so much. These are movies I appreciate and respect.
But they are NOT Christmas movies. And they never will be. No matter how much people argue it on forums and other social media.
Disagree? Comment below!