My conscience was tweaked last year when a Huffington Post blogger exposed the cruel behaviour exhibited in the animated Christmas film Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Because of Rudolph’s shiny, red nose, he was continuously mocked by his peers and exploited for Santa’s gain. This begs the question: Do the themes inherent in most Christmas classics constitute forms of indoctrination?
Take, for instance, Home Alone, a movie that encourages anti-social behaviour. Stripped down to its core, it is essentially about two adult men stalking a young boy. Even the main character, eight-year-old Kevin McCallister, is a sociopathic, spoiled-rotten brat. He constantly disrespects his parents, binges on junk food, and takes pleasure in torturing hapless criminals. The laughter generated by “take that, ya filthy animal” does not excuse the fact that it comes at the expense of a mob-style execution. What’s next, Christmas with The Sopranos?
It’s a Wonderful Life spreads socialist propaganda. George Bailey is an ambitious young man with global aspirations, but first, he must escape the dead-end future awaiting him in the crumby little town of Bedford Falls. Working like a slave in his family’s home-loan business, George barely scrapes by. Unhappy with his lot in life, he receives some angelic advice: “No man is a failure who has friends.” George succumbs to anti-capitalist hogwash, stays poor, and pities the uber-wealthy. Every Christmas, my family bought into this film’s illusory happiness. Now we see it for what it is: opium for the masses.
A Charlie Brown Christmas epitomizes conformity. As the director of the school play, Charlie Brown is assigned a simple task—pick out an appropriate-sized Christmas tree—but according to his narcissistic peers, he fails miserably. A barrage of insults soon follows—”STUPID,” “HOPELESS,” “BLOCKHEAD.” Even his dog Snoopy laughs at him (so much for man’s best friend). The crass commercialization that now defines Christmas makes the Charlie Browns of this world easy targets for schoolyard bullies. Small wonder he is in constant need of Lucy’s psychiatric help.
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas promises a false utopia. Fueled by rage and jealousy, the Grinch guts Whoville of every ting-tingler, blue-tooper, and slew-slumper. Residents are left with nothing—not even a crumb too small for a mouse. After going on a crime spree, which includes animal cruelty, break and enter, and grand theft, the Grinch is held unaccountable. Instead, the citizens of Whoville forgive the Grinch, hold hands, and gleefully sing “fah-who foris, dah-who doris, welcome Christmas, bring your light.” The message is clear: crime pays. The Grinch is welcomed back with open arms; he’s even allowed to carve the roast beast.
Frosty the Snowman personifies white male privilege. While mansplaining to Karen about weight loss, Frosty turns into a puddle of water after being trapped in a greenhouse by Professor Hinkle. Typical of the old boys’ club, Santa saves a fellow dude. He opens the door, lets a good jolly December wind blow in, and voila: Frosty turns into Christmas snow all over again. Meanwhile, poor Karen, who nearly froze to death in a refrigerated boxcar, is dropped off on the icy, snow-covered roof of her house while Santa, Frosty, and Hocus Pocus fly away merrily into the night sky. This is a prime example of how popular culture props up the patriarchy.
The underlying themes embedded in traditional Christmas movies and animated films do not reflect reality. Their only purpose is to perpetuate discredited value systems. This holiday season, I will be boycotting these shows. Why? Because it’s 2019!