Every year around this time, the Internet is all atwitter about one question: Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?
(Obviously, this is not a decades long tradition because Die Hard came out in 1988 and the World Wide Web a few years later…)
And while you may think it’s a straightforward thing, a hard yes or a hard no, it’s not. Why would it be?
I’ve noticed that some people have tried to bring facts into the debate by coming up with criteria for elements a movie should include to be considered a Christmas movie. There are (at least) three: Christmas has to mentioned, the events should take place over Christmas, and Christmas should be used as a plot device.
The Die Hard answer to all those questions is a yes. Also, the movie’s score includes Christmas classics like “Winter Wonderland”, and “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”
Now, is Trading Places a Christmas movie? It takes place over the holidays, covering both Christmas and New Year’s Eve. There’s a Santa in it, and the Duke brothers even hand out Christmas bonuses to staff.
To me, Die Hard is not a Christmas movie, but Trading Places is and it’s got almost nothing to do with the fact that Louis Winthorpe dresses up as Santa and John McClane doesn’t.
That’s not what makes it a Christmas movie. What makes it a Christmas movie is the fact that at some point every Christmas, I want to watch it. I want to see Billy Ray do his “Agent Orange” thing, and bleed on the inside, like a karate man. I want to cheer him and Louis as they take on the big bad Dukes. And I want to point out that the guy who gets inside the gorilla suit is actually James Belushi.
And I know what you’re thinking. The natural follow-up question: “Is ‘Flashdance’ a Christmas album?”
Well, let’s see. I remember the dark December afternoon when I walked into the Sokos department store in Joensuu, Finland and bought it and how I played it every day after school all those days leading up to Christmas. I remember coming home from the neighbourhood rink on Christmas break, putting the “Flashdance” album on my turntable, and singing along. You know, “take your passion, and make it happen!”
So yes, “Flashdance” is a Christmas album.
But that’s just me. I’m not taking the battle to the Internet.