Which brings me to the subject of this year's rant--Christmas TV.
I admit it--I'm a sucker for Christmas TV. Those sappy Rankin-Bass specials, the cartoons, and, of course, the movies. Ahh, the iconic images of Christmas cheer! Tiny Tim blessing us, every one, Jimmy Stewart running through Bedford Falls, wishing everyone a merry Christmas, little Natalie Wood tugging on Santa's beard (I know there have been remakes, but they DON'T count!). And then, of course, there is the line which makes every celebration of Christmas complete:
"You'll shoot your eye out."
Let's face it, most of these beloved movies are pretty dark. Court cases, Santa in the nuthouse, ghosts, suicide attempts, bullies, getting one's mouth washed out with soap, shooting your eye out--these are not happy stories!
Let's start with A Christmas Carol. Miserly Ebenezer Scrooge turns his life around and embrace Christmas cheer. However, why does he do so? Because he has seen the light? Or is it because his future includes dying alone and having his body robbed while it's still warm?
And then there's It's A Wonderful Life. Watch the "Potterville" scenes and then ask yourself--does this really need to be a Christmas movie? I guess it's kind of the film noir of the holidays, but set the date to any other day, and the message would be the same.
Miracle on 34th Street features Santa Claus, so this should lighten the mood, right? Wrong. We've got a drunk Santa less than ten minutes in, a divorced mom (in 1947, when this was never spoken of above a whisper), a guy deliberately getting his wife plastered, an insecure shrink trying to get a guy committed because he challenges the shrink's authority, and weirdest of all, a little girl hanging around her bachelor neighbor alone. Did the Hays Code people give this movie a pass because Santa was one of the main characters?
And then, finally, A Christmas Story. They used to show this one in my junior high between midterms. I don't think I saw it all the way through until years later. This, of course, features the "you'll shoot your eye out" line that I referenced (spoiler alert--Little Ralphie shoots his eye out.) Ralphie also beats up a bully, drops an F-bomb on his dad (and gets his mouth washed out with soap), fondles an electric, fishnet-clad plastic leg, and gets kicked in the face by a department-store Santa.
But don't let these dark stories get you down. Have a merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, a divine Solstice, or just a nice day off work.