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?
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 Elf. At 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.