Christmastime Is When We Seemingly Forgive All of Chevy Chase's Sins
Much like eggnog, ugly sweaters, and unfounded outrage over artwork on coffee cups, the last bit of the general public’s remaining affinity for Chevy Chase is something that only ever rears its head during the holiday season.
The moment that frost hits the air and Mariah Carrey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” begins its annual annihilation of every regional radio station's airwaves is the exact instant that some publicist, convention planner, or fried chicken purveyor picks up the phone and calls Chase to see if his yearly pilgrimage to the nostalgia mines will have a stop along the way for an appearance in whatever promotion or commercial they’re concocting for Clark Griswold.
Though Chevy Chase’s decades of dirtbaggery are very much public knowledge, we all seem to collectively dust off our VHS tape of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation every winter and return to a time when Chase was both funny and family friendly, as opposed to how he is modernly perceived as ornery, obnoxious and apparently super racist. We've probably always preferred Chase as Clark Griswold, and, in December at least, we refuse to see him as anything but.
This morning, TMZ reported on Chase’s busy December as he wrapped two sold-out screenings and Q&A sessions for Christmas Vacation at a casino in Connecticut before a 2-day Comic Con appearance in Pittsburgh this past weekend. Now he’s onto a Christmas Vacation screening in Atlantic City, then another in Michigan, then, eventually, the dreaded day of Jesus’ birth will finally come and the legendary SNL septuagenarian can slumber until next November.
According to TMZ, Chase’s publicity team “refers to December as Chevy's Super Bowl month,” accrediting his winter popularity to the classic film about a suburban Chicago family’s calamitous Christmas misadventures. This year’s return to Griswold was shared by Chase’s co-stars – Beverly D’Angelo revisited her role as Clark’s saintly patient wife Ellen at the Pittsburgh convention, with supermodel Christie Brinkley making a surprise appearance for her part as a Ferrari-driving flirt in the first National Lampoon’s Vacation film.
The National Lampoon’s Vacation series was Chase at his most likable – despite his propensity for persnickety, mercurial moments, Clark Griswold’s excitement and sense of adventure made him one of our favorite father figures in film. The character might be the last piece of Chase’s career that still plays to a modern audience, so it’s hard to begrudge the comedy icon for returning to the role every year for a few more moments in the spotlight that aren’t marred by his massive history of misbehavior.
In the spirit of the season, it’s natural to try to see only the best in people – even Chase. Choosing to remember the bright spots in Chase’s unscrupulous life in entertainment is as wholesome a tradition as any holiday trope that is turned into publicity campaign for chicken fingers, so why not watch Christmas Vacation with the family and forget about the time Chase got fired from Community for using the n-word?