In Hollywood movies, Christmas is seldom just a time of peace on Earth, good will toward men. It’s also full of gunplay, explosions, orgies, monsters, drugs, life-changing wagers, privation, and death. There are a lot of movies that feature such grim content, with the added ironic kick that they’re supposed to take place at the happiest time of the year.
Where did Hollywood filmmakers learn to fill movies set at Christmastime with such bleak content? Maybe from actual Christmas movies. Like the one about the kid who tortures a couple of burglars for what seems like hours before turning them over to the cops. Or the one about the miser hounded and haunted into decent behavior by four ghosts. Or the one about the guy who steals his business rival’s bank deposit, gets away scot-free, and nearly drives his rival to suicide. Or the one where Santa goes on trial after he assaults a man. Or the one about the kid whose fondest holiday wish is for a dangerous firearm.
At least these non-Christmas-y Christmastime movies are honest. They offer a familiar moral, one usually issued as a warning to kids: So be good, for goodness sake.
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