Die Hard is a Christmas movie (and other pointless arguments to have with your family today)

I pointlessly, passionately consider Die Hard is a Christmas movie just as my closest friend here in Stillwater equally pointlessly and equally passionately insist that it is not. It is the Schroedinger's Cat of movie arguments.

My guess regarding Christmas movies and their popularity in 2017 is thus:

  1. A Christmas Story
  2. Home Alone
  3. Christmas Vacation
  4. It's a Wonderful Life
  5. Elf
  6. Die Hard***
  7. Bad Santa
  8. Gremlins

There are a thousand other Christmas movies, but these are the ones that resonate the most.

Personally, I think Home Alone is destined to become what It's a Wonderful Life became in the 1980s - a perennial classic beloved by people who first saw it when they were children. The slapstick fanatical elements never get old, and the heart of the story - a mother trying to reach her forgotten son on Christmas - makes it glow.

I've never been big on It's a Wonderful Life, and that's not uncommon among people with major depression - forget about angels and wings, the film is about a devastated man who sees himself as a failure and is suicidal, even though he is surrounded by loving friends and family. That the film's entire purpose is to demonstrate that George Bailey is not only beloved by friends and family but is the "richest man" in his town demonstrates an understanding of the dysmorphic and dysphoric quality of depression and depressives that is so vexing. Like the infamous scene in the Tracy Gold biopic where she is skeletally thin yet sees a fat girl in the mirror, It's a Wonderful Life - intentionally or not I do not know - is one of the most accurate portrayals of perception versus reality among depressives that exists, and even though I don't consider it a Christmas movie per se, it notably demonstrates just how difficult Christmas can be for those of us who see ourselves as failures.

The best "Die Hard is a Christmas movie" thinkpiece I've read this year comes from the writer Michael Hann, who credibly posits that Die Hard is a Christmas movie because, 30 years after its release, a generation has grown up with it being a Christmas movie (my contention about Home Alone is for the same reason). Moreover, Hann makes the excellent point that with the advent of Facebook and Twitter now going on nearly 15 years, people have been sounding off about Die Hard's Christmas status in their feeds for ages. In other words, there is no easier troll than insisting that Die Hard is a Christmas movie - the only thing that equals it in the fury it arouses among dissidents is telling an atheist that Atheism is a religion - it doesn't matter if it is or not, but it's destined to get a heated reaction (my friend who insists Die Hard is not a Christmas movie loves insisting that Atheism is a religion).

I begin listening to Christmas music on November 1 every year. I watch more Hallmark Christmas movies than a straight man should admit, and even as I write this TBS and TNT are playing A Christmas Story on repeat, and I have it on in the background. Scott Farkas getting his ass whipped remains one of the most satisfying asides in film history.

That said, the best line of all Christmas movies comes from the most controversial one: "Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho." As spoken by Alan Rickman, there is an elegant simplicity to it that both explains and elaborates on Die Hard's enduring popularity.

Creede Kurtz

I write about the movies I see and a few other things.

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