This entry is a modification of a comment I made recently on a social media post about the classic 1988 action movie “Die Hard.”
Specifically the post was a link to a Buzzfeed sort-of article that sought to end the debate, once and for all, over whether “Die Hard” is a “Christmas movie.” The headline, in fact, was “Cut The Bullshit, ‘Die Hard’ Is Absolutely A Christmas Movie.” That Buzzfeed post was a rebuttal to another Buzzfeed post (don’t these people talk to each other at work?) that took people to task for claiming that “Die Hard” was their favorite Christmas movie.
This needs to stop being a debate at all. Stop it. You’ve ruined it. You’ve ruined the joke. You’ve taken what was supposed to be merely an exercise in dry wit and pummeled every inch of fun out of it.
References to “Die Hard” as a favorite Christmas film — it takes place on Christmas Eve — began as simple ironic humor, much like the exchange in “Scream 2”:
“What’s your favorite scary movie?”
Folks began making the same claim about “Die Hard” as their favorite Christmas movie in much the same humorous vein. Sometimes they were sincere; they did, in fact, enjoy watching “Die Hard” around the holidays, but they enjoyed making the quip nonetheless.
Then Those People showed up, the ones who can’t let a joke just happen without analyzing the hell out of it. “Die Hard” cannot be a Christmas movie, they said, revealing their total lack of irony or wit, for These Reasons.
And thus the debate began.
And now it must stop. And not just over “Die Hard,” but for other movies that crop up in the is-it-or-isn’t-it holiday movie conversation from time to time: “Batman Returns,” “Gremlins,” “Lethal Weapon.”
You see, while some folks have tried to place a metric on it, whether scientifically or whimsically, it is physically, emotionally, psychologically and analytically impossible to quantify a Christmas movie. There simply is no level of Christmasality that a movie must reach in order to be classified a Christmas movie. There’s no Christmas Litmus Test. The film doesn’t even have to mention Christmas at all.
(For instance, I have a friend whose holiday season tradition includes watching the entire “Lord of the Rings” trilogy of films. My own holiday tradition includes watching the 1967 Dick Van Dyke comedy “Fitzwilly.” Christmas is not integral to its plot, but the climactic caper, as with “Die Hard,” takes place on Christmas Eve.)
For that matter, think of all the traditional holiday songs that are basically just winter songs that we assimilated into the Christmas oeuvre: Winter Wonderland, Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman, Baby It’s Cold Outside, Let It Snow (more irony, as this is the unofficial “Die Hard” end-credits theme). None of these songs mentions Christmas, but they’re on just about every holiday album.
So, bottom line, a movie can be a Christmas movie if it merely evokes the holiday spirit within you, and no one can take that away from you.
Debating the point just fires one more bullet into Irony’s dying body. As William Hurt says in “The Big Chill,” “Sometimes you just have to let art flow over you.”