The Earnestness of Christmas Movies

2

December 3, 2012 by Devin

It is that time of year, again. Christmas is right around the corner, meaning pretty lights, hot chocolate, and most importantly, Christmas movies. Okay, they are not the most important part of Christmas, but every time I talk to people about Christmas movies, everyone seems to have one or two favorites that they watch every year.

But as with everything else, I ask the question, “Why?” What makes Christmas movies so special? Is it me, or is it because the Christmas genre is the one that is so unapologetically earnest?

"Buddy the Elf what's your favorite color?" . . . I couldn't resist.

There has been a trend in the past generation or so that has favored irony and cynicism over earnestness and idealism. Movies have tended to idealize the Holden Caulfield “everything is phony and I hate it” archetype to a large extent. In lots of movies, heroes comment on how ridiculous a movie is before they have fun in it.

But Christmas movies rarely do that. Christmas movies are often safe places for naivety, earnestness, and belief in magic. Look at ElfAt exactly one point in the movie does Buddy seem downtrodden and cynical, and this mood does not last long. Throughout the movie, Buddy’s view on life is naive to the point of extremity, and because of this, he is the brightest energy onscreen.

I mean, would It’s a Wonderful Life really be comfortable in any other genre? I doubt it. That movie reflects a view on life that is wonderfully optimistic and hopeful with a main character who is never anything but selfless.

Christmas movies in general represent a form of thought from a generation long ago. How many action movies are there that are comfortable with being non-ironic? How many movies are okay with having just a little magic in them? Not many, and that is why Christmas movies are so special.

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2 thoughts on “The Earnestness of Christmas Movies

  1. bmbyankie says:

    I think this is due to the intended audience of Christmas films- children. You only see these themes arise in children stories. In fact, in the conclusion to Elf Buddy’s story is turned into a children’s book. It’s the hope, the unrealistic optimism, the morals we as a society want to instill in our children that produces these type of plots. Perhaps its the cynicism of experience that creates stories that lack these themes. But I don’t think these theme are only from a by gone era. Every generation wants to instill in the next that things can be better than they are or have been. It may be unrealistic to instill ideas of selflessness and “magic” in children but hey thats why Christmas movies are so unrealistically wonderful aren’t they?

  2. Every time watch It’s A Wonderful Life I realize what a different movie it would be if it was not framed as a Christmas movie. There’s a profound sadness there and I find myself wondering where the Bailey’s would find themselves next Christmas. Check out my review http://amandalovesmovies.com/2012/12/23/its-a-wonderful-life/

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