Slate ran an article recently called “White! Christmas!” in which the author committed to watching all 21 of the original Hallmark Christmas movies this season in an attempt to establish a relationship between the rise of Donald Trump and the Hallmark Channel’s annual “Countdown to Christmas.” To that I say, How! Dare! You!
Let me be clear: the Hallmark Channel’s holiday movies are not quality movies. They are predictable and absurd. Yet they are absolutely wonderful.
Every year, I look forward to the silly titles, slightly distorted movie posters, campy dialogue, and indiscreetly predictable plotlines. The movies are ridiculously cookie-cutter and far removed from reality, but they fill me with joy. I love getting together with friends during the Christmas season and laughing my way through their unrealistic towns and holiday romances.
Mary Katharine Ham even developed a Hallmark Christmas movie party game in honor of “the tropes of the season.” The following rules are my favorites.
The guy with the Bluetooth never gets the girl. If you meet a hotshot with a fancy job and a Bluetooth early in the movie, you can bet that while he’s busy being successful, his girlfriend will stumble upon a Christmas town and fall in love with the flannel-wearing hunk who is probably a carpenter or the owner of the local bed and breakfast (or both).
Dead people love Christmas. If you meet a character who “doesn’t do Christmas,” you can bet that someone he or she loved who died used to make Christmas special and now it’s just not the same.
The nanny will marry the single dad. If a single dad hires a nanny during the holidays, you can bet he’ll marry her by Christmas.
Love is rarely found in the big city. If you are a single lady during the holiday season, your best chance at a Christmas romance is a retreat to the small town you fled in pursuit of an exciting career in the big city. You will likely run into someone from your past (such as your high school boyfriend) who has been pining for you since you left.
Kissing makes it snow. And if it doesn’t, is it true love?
One of the best things about these movies is that they are apolitical. They offer an escape from the 24-hour news cycle and the woes of the world. When I read the Slate article, I was so disheartened because it politicized these movies. The author said the “Hallmark Channel has boomed since Trump began campaigning, and the network’s strongholds map to his Electoral College victories.”
Correlation is not causation, my friend. Believe it or not, the Hallmark Channel has been making family-friendly movies since before Trump’s entrance into the political arena.
The article goes on to criticize the genre (for these movies are a genre in their own way) by making fun of the holiday-themed names (Nick, Holly, etc.), identifying Candace Cameron Bure, one of the faces of “Countdown to Christmas,” as a Trump supporter (somehow that’s relevant?), collectivizing all the leading ladies as “beauty-pageant heroines,” and describing the leading men as “strong-jawed heroes with white-nationalist haircuts.”
Sure, the messages in these movies are imperfect, as are the messages in most film. People make dumb decisions such as deciding to walk away from a hard-earned career and getting married after meeting someone a week before Christmas who helped them make their inexplicable Christmas Eve deadline.
However, just because a large segment of the population has made the Hallmark Channel part of their holiday traditions does not mean they watch the movies because they in any way reflect Trump’s campaign rhetoric.
If you don’t like cheesy movies that have little variation in character type or plot line, guess what? You don’t have to watch them. In fact, millions of people in this country spend the holiday season watching quality Christmas movies such as “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” “Elf,” “It’s A Wonderful Life,” and “A Christmas Carol.” Still others watch no holiday movies at all.
I reserve the right to disagree with the Trump administration regularly, condemn white-nationalist rhetoric, be annoyed that everyone on the Hallmark Channel (and TV in general) is a “beauty-pageant heroine,” and still enjoy Christmas movies the Hallmark Channel produces.
P.S. If you’re reading this, Hallmark Channel, before I die I would very much like to appear in one of your beloved Christmas movies as the best friend at the small-town coffee shop who tells the “beauty-pageant heroine” that she should follow her heart.