4 Reasons Holiday Specials Have Ruined Our Childhoods
I love Christmas. LOVE. IT. Once Thanksgiving is over and I'm still living off of turkey leftovers, I'm in Christmas mode. I get way into it, which might be slightly weird since I'm an atheist and all. But we can argue that whole thing later. While I'm no fan of it starting BEFORE Thanksgiving, I like the commercialized monstrosity this holiday has become. I like that you can Christmasize literally ANYTHING and it works. Christmas M&M's? Sure! Christmas edition Starbucks cups? Absolutely! Ugly-ass Christmas sweaters? Go for it! I mean, I'm not, but I won't even make fun of how stupid you look because THAT'S HOW INTO CHRISTMAS I AM (and I'll make fun of pretty much anything, except how much I'm using all caps right now, which is totally justified).
I'm into all of it. Show me a house with so many gaudy Christmas lights that its power bill rivals that of a small country, and I'm hypnotized like a moth drunk on eggnog drawn to a giant-ass flame.
Dubstep Christmas lights? If you must!
Then there are the Christmas movies. I LOVE Christmas movies! Well, most of them. I still have some taste, so anything by Lifetime can take a hike. This year I did what I do every year and cued up a few holiday-specific movies on a shitty, cold day, got curled up on my couch, and was ready for a nice mini-marathon of yuletide entertainment. But at some point during my binge-watching session, I realized that the very movies I religiously watch every year during the holidays are actually kind of fucked-up. So much for the magic of movies bringing me Christmas cheer. Here's why ...
They Give You Unreasonable Expectations for Relationships
I make no apologies for loving The Holiday. I love Cameron Diaz's house in the movie. I love the idea of flying off to spend Xmas in London and meeting a smart, hot Brit in publishing that looks really good in glasses and has a sexy-ass accent and wants to bone the holiday away. However, not only is that shit never happening, it's also a subliminal reminder that "Hey, your holiday is going to suck a dick because you're single." And, sadly, it isn't attached to the aforementioned fictional sexy Brit. Even if it was, Jude Law kind of has an unfortunate habit of not wrapping his junk and has his plate a little full with all of his baby mamas, so unless you want to get knocked-up for Christmas, you'd probably want to pass on that until someone does the right thing and puts a vasectomy in his stocking.
And some socks.
But say by some stroke of magic you really do end up on an amazing vacation and meet a guy (or girl or whatever you're into); the odds of anyone falling so head-over-heels in love with you in a matter of days and deciding to traverse to another continent to spend New Year's with you are slim to none. Also, everyone knows that vacation hookups don't really count. Those are usually people you meet and sleep with and plan to keep in touch with after you go back to your prospective lives, but that whole situational lust wears off by the time your plane lands.
It's certainly nothing to risk flying Southwest over.
But even that isn't the worst offense of movies like The Holiday. The two female leads are successful, attractive women with awesome jobs and clearly shitty taste in men. Despite being burned by their recent exes, they instantly fall for the next guys they meet. And one of those guys is a successful, nice guy that just found out his girlfriend was cheating too. Now, you can believe "true love works in mysterious ways" or "the heart wants what it wants" or "you just know" when you meet "the right one," and even if the timing isn't right, you're "meant to be." Too bad all of that is absolute nonsense and probably why the divorce rate is so high.
"Happy Holidays! We hate each other now!"
Timing matters, especially when it comes to relationships. If you jump into something serious too soon after ending something serious, you are bound to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over, one of them undoubtedly being that you don't allow yourself enough time between relationships. It's also a bit of a red flag when someone can't be single. Nothing makes me less inclined to want to spend time with you than if you can't even stand hanging out with you. Also, unless someone is a total sociopath, odds are they need longer than a flight from L.A. to London to get over being cheated on. Speaking of flights, the fact that I could never afford the fancy-ass reclining seat that Diaz has on her flight is probably the most depressing part of the whole movie.
This is what true love looks like.
I'll secretly be crying on the inside when I'm looking out of the window fantasizing about more legroom on my flight next week.
They Remind You It's Business and Politics as Usual, Even During the Holidays
By the time I finished watching The Holiday, I'd half-admitted to myself after all these years that the movie wasn't very good after all. I decided to cleanse my palate with the surefire Christmas classic National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.
There's a reason why this is one of the greatest Christmas movies in the history of ever, and it's not just because it's funny as shit. Strip away the endless amount of quotable lines and comedy and there's a highly relatable, yet slightly depressing, story of a middle-class family being fucked over by a rich CEO. That's a pretty fair description of life in general, so it's not surprising that a number of Christmas movies work around this general premise. Unfortunately, almost none of us have a Cousin Eddie to abduct said CEO in the name of setting things right, and, if we did, no way would it end as amicably as it does in the movie.
Unless you consider this part amicable.
But that's just a movie. In real life, layoffs happen more frequently in the fourth quarter than the rest of the year, so in lieu of a year's membership in the Jelly of the Month club, Clark would probably have gotten a pink slip. And Eddie's plight to buy presents for his kids is actually more common than you think. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 45 percent of kids in the states belong to low-income families. Despite that, big companies have found a way to squeeze every last dollar possible out of everyone by starting the most despicable holiday tradition in American history earlier than ever: Black Friday. I don't know about you, but nothing says "holidays are for family and togetherness" like forcing your employees to work while half of the country is engaged in a death match over a TV that's on sale.
Despite songs assuring you that it's the most wonderful time of the year, it's also a time when people in power become mega-dicks, because for some the best way to say "Happy Holidays" is to use all their money and influence to fuck someone else.
You Realize Meg Ryan Is Probably Breaking the Law to Cheat on Someone Right Now
The other night I was watching Sleepless in Seattle because, well, it was on and I was too lazy to change the channel. For those of you who don't know, in it Meg Ryan is engaged but decides to grossly misuse her access to information as a journalist and ends up stalking the shit out of Tom Hanks. For some reason, this was super romantic when it came out. I'm still not sure why, come to think of it. But while watching it again the other night I realized not only is it pretty fucked, I'm pretty sure it's illegal.
And, sadly, it isn't the first time that stalking has been passed off as romance in movies. In While You Were Sleeping, Sandra Bullock basically assumes the role of a comatose guy's fiancee, then spends the holidays with his family and falls in love with his brother.
What the fuck?
But back to Ryan. All stalking aside, isn't her character engaged? So, never mind that she's committing a felony, she's also emotionally cheating on the dork she's supposed to marry, then ends up dumping his ass on Valentine's Day because she promises the dude she stalked she will meet him at the top of the Empire State Building. I'm going to assume she never tells Tommy boy about any of this, because no way would some guy be all, "Oh, that's so sweet! Let's get married, you psycho!" I just hope poor Jonah's teddy bear didn't end up in a pot of boiling water a la Fatal Attraction.
It's soooo much better fried.
Or maybe Hanks just brings that out in her, because in You've Got Mail the two have an emotional affair online in a chat room while both are in relationships. But this time he's the one that is kind of fucking with her head, because he really knows who she is and, despite this, puts her out of business. Even though he ruins her life and puts the book store she inherited from her dead mother out of biz, she ditches her boyfriend and falls in love with him because THE MOVIES. Come to think of it, how was she ever America's Sweetheart? The lesson here is: while you're out buying presents for your other half, Meg Ryan may be stalking or catfishing him on the Internet and waiting for the right moment to dump Bryan Adams, swoop in, and steal your man. Merry Christmas!
They Make It Clear No One Can Be Trusted to Have Kids
There's a lot of pretty bad parenting happening in Christmas movies, which is basically just proving that a lot of people should have never had kids.
Speaking of Home Alone, how the hell did no one call Child Services on the McCallisters? Not only did they leave this kid alone in a house over Xmas, they lost him in New York City? How does this happen? Kevin already established himself as the problem child, so how would you not keep a closer eye on him or put him on one of those kid-leash things when you're traveling. Or, I don't know, chip him like I did with my dogs? And why is it funny that these people are basically the worst parents ever, second only to Macaulay Culkin's actual parents?
Every adult hates you.
So some people never should have children. Or maybe keep your brood to a manageable number so you stop losing them at airports or forgetting them completely. Either way, nothing ruins a holiday like a bad parent. It's not the kid's fault that your condom broke or that your rich ass can't count or come up with a better system for not losing them. Yet, for some reason, shitty parents get a big pass in the fuck-up department in holiday movies, as if the lesson they really needed to learn was to have a Merry Christmas. I think a better lesson would involve putting their kids in protective custody and permitting only supervised visits, but what do I know?
Things will be better here.
Maybe I noticed all of these things because the cynic in me has grown two sizes too big. Or maybe it's because there are so many crappy things happening in the real world nowadays that I want my holiday movies to be void of assholes, since real life rarely is. Whatever the reason, I still have enough Christmas spirit (and by that, I mean booze) in me to forgive the indiscretions of the movies that have become my tradition and accept their flaws because it is Christmas, and that's what you do on Christmas. Next year I'll just drink more so I care less, kind of the way you numb yourself during holidays with your family.
For more from Cher, follow her on Twitter @TheCherness.
And be sure to check out 5 Famous Figures That Stupid People Love to Misquote and The 17 Worst Christmas Specials Possible.
Are you on reddit? Check it: We are too! Click on over to our best of Cracked subreddit.