December 27, 2018

A few items and observations to finish off Christmas like so much used-up bows and torn wrapping paper…

Larry Scheweikart recalls the miracles of Christmas in 1776.

How the Creator of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” got the Gospel past network executives.

Mark Steyn tells the story of Elvis’s classic “Blue Christmas”, and, surprisingly, it starts long before Elvis got a hold of it.

Professional golfers share their Christmas photos.

The phenomenon of Christmas movies on cable. And it’s not just the Hallmark channels (there are more than one, but ION has had them as well. I find this interesting:

What’s even more interesting is that they all suggest Christmas is a time of magical salvation from the forces of modern isolation and loneliness. The plots almost always involve a young woman from a big city who finds herself, for some reason, in a picturesque small town. She is either unmarried, or engaged to someone unexciting, or sadly widowed. In the small town she finds a manly man, usually someone who works with his hands, who was either her high school boyfriend and has remained a bachelor because he pines for her or is sadly widowered.

The town is wonderful. The man is wonderful. And yet the woman has a life back in the city. But a few poinsettias, a crackling fire with some stockings hanging nearby and somehow kept from catching fire, a spinet playing carols, and a bearded man who just may be the actual Santa Claus, and you know she’s not going back to her soulless lonely modern existence. She will stay in the small town, protected from the Christmas-lessness of the everyday world, and find peace.

The movies are all predictable, where only the faces and names have been changed. And, as Al Perrotta notes they all have fifteen essentials:

1. A quaint picturesque village wrapped in garland and holiday lights and a blanket of snow.
2. A quaint name for the village or the lodge or inn or farm that is the setting for the action.
3. An equally quaint little kid with one or more parents dead. (In the case of Finding Father Christmas, Mom drops dead while performing A Christmas Carol.)
4. An apple-cheeked older woman who wants to help everyone, with husband who tells her to “leave ’em be.”
5. A professional woman who has lost track of her true self. She’s either given up on dating or is dating someone equally driven in his career who is perfect for where she is in life. Or so she tells people in a not quite believable way.
6. A sassy sidekick or sibling or assistant really hoping she lightens up.
7. Arrival, whether planned or accidental, in said quaint village.
8. A hunk who the professional woman who has lost track of herself happens upon seconds after arriving in said picturesque village. Usually the hunk is a total stranger seemingly opposite in every way. However, union rules require that one in four be a childhood or high school sweetheart who just didn’t work out for all the wrong reasons.
9. Cups of hot chocolate with a peppermint stick. (To my chagrin, no one ever seems to poke their eye out.)
10. A bakery with desserts that make you gain three pounds just from watching.
11. A former, aged soap star chewing scenery.
12. A sudden snowstorm.
13. A gradual falling in love, even though everyone in the family, town — even the animal life — knew it from the second they saw the two together.
14. A touch of supernatural Christmas magic.
15. A final (or first) kiss as the snow flakes fall.

It’s all just pretty people acting around snow that isn’t really snow, air that isn’t cold (not a breath to be seen anywhere), and the same plots acted out behind stock winter footage. What I have noticed is, that, unlike, say, movies based off of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, there’s precious little mention of “the reason for the season” at all: one movie Tracey was watching had a scene inside a church where a choir was practicing Christmas hymns, but it was just because the couple happened in their by accident. As far as the Hallmark movies are concerned, nativity scenes are replaced by homes and offices resplendent in Christmas decorations, ugly Christmas sweaters are everywhere, and the brokenness of the world can only be repaired with togetherness and family as a result of “Christmas” making things right.

…speaking of nativity scenes, the opening scene of Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” is a classic. The writing is both funny and superb, and the music schmaltzy and over-the-top – worthy of Cecil B. DeMille, but the genius lies in how the writers were able to weave in physical comedy and irreverent wordplay while still treating the Gospel account with reverence. It’s classic.

But I digress.

There was one Hallmark movie I saw a fair piece of where a church hires a social outreach coordinator to “help lift the town’s spirits”, so how does she do that? Evangelize to grow the church so it can increase its ability to help those most needy in the community? Of course not, you silly goose! She recruits town members to make sure the church and the town is most happily and seasonally decorated in the most secular fashion. After all, you don’t need Jesus when you can have Christmas trees, decorations, and lights of all kinds to lift folks spirits, right?

Bottom line is, you’d be hard-pressed to find any real Christian (or even spiritual) message in any of these movies. It’s as if the concept of Christmas came out of nowhere. And I find that kind of disturbing and sad.

Oh well, at least this year I’ve noticed more African-American actors, but I don’t think (I may be wrong) I’ve seen any Asians in any major role. Maybe next year. eh? Or perhaps there will be Asians in a leading role in the winter-themed movies they’ll be showing once we get past the holidays – I heard that last night. Not sure what these “winter”-themed movies will be about, but I’m guessing it will all be the same, without the Christmas decorations; they’ll keep the snow and the plot lines, just eliminate the Christmas theme. It’s not too early to start pushing Valentine’s Day, so perhaps that will be the overriding concept.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:32 | Comments (0)
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