Sunday, December 23, 2012

The End of the Christmas Classic

Image from SavvySugar
Nothing beats the old Christmas movies, songs and TV specials of the 20th century--it's as simple as that. When you really think about it, nothing that has been released in the past 15 years that is related to Christmas has the potential to become a classic someday. Most of the newer Christmas movies are painfully lame, such as Fred Claus, which starred Vince Vaughn as the inept brother of Santa (played by Paul Giamatti, who incinerated his talent with this film.) Two exceptions may be The Polar Express and Elf; my boss predicts that by the time his oldest child is grown up, these will be considered classic Christmas movies. But will they stir as much nostalgia as It's A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, or A Christmas Story? I doubt it. 

I also don't remember the last time I tried watching a new animated or musical Christmas special. Last year's A Michael Buble Christmas would have been more watchable if it weren't for a. the horribly unfunny sketch Buble did sporting a mustache and Christmas sweater, b. Michael Buble wasn't such a douchebag in real life, and c. Justin Bieber hadn't been invited to this lame holiday party. Thank goodness for YouTube, where I can find solace in Christmas specials by Andy Williams, Sonny & Cher, and Carol Burnett. And how about those sitcoms?     The Sanford and Son episode entitled "Ebenezer Sanford", where Fred gets even grumpier and stingy than usual during Christmas, is funnier than any holiday themed comedy today. "You don't upset me, Fred Sanford" says Aunt Esther. "I have the feeling of Christmas." "And the face of Halloween!" zings back Fred.

And the animated specials? I don't think I'll ever get tired of A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, or Frosty the Snowman. Sure, the newer animations are slick and computer generated, but they'll never have the charm or the slightly herky-jerky awkwardness of the Rankin-Bass stop motion TV specials. 

On my last post, a few people commented about a fairly newer song called "The Christmas Shoes." Having never heard it before, I looked it up and tried to give it a whirl--dreadful! I think holiday music should be happy and fun, not something that should be played at a funeral. Even the socially conscious "Do They Know It's Christmas?" wasn't this depressing! Right up through the 80s, we had classic Christmas staples being created such as Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime" and The Waitresses' "Christmas Wrapping." (One exception: I love Bob Dylan's "It Must Be Santa" from his 2009 Christmas album.) Nowadays it seems like only the country folks are writing newer Christmas music, and the older crooners like Rod Stewart are covering the same old songs. 

I guess it goes hand-in-hand with the complaints about Hollywood that we've been hearing for a while now: lack of imagination.

And it isn't that I'm being an old-fashioned fuddy-duddy on purpose...I really have given the newer Christmas movies, music and specials a try...they just aren't for me, and I don't think any of them are on schedule to go down in history as pop culture classics. If anyone thinks that there are exceptions worth checking out, I'm open to hearing about them. 

4 comments:

Cliff said...

I like Shonen Knife's "All I Want For Christmas" as a newer song, myself. It's on youtube.

ApacheDug said...

Awesome piece here Pam, I couldn't agree more. Y'know, I really think you were born 10 years too late or something, because I'm a decade older than you & this sounds like something from someone my age! Besides the 'classics' like Charlie Brown & Rudolph, one of my favorite memories of being a 70s kid was all the network holiday specials hosted by groups like the Osmonds or the Carpenters. Oh they were cheesy as hell but STILL loved 'em!

Well Pam, as long as I'm on here--thanks for a great year of retro fun & I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas :)

Lacey said...

Have to disagree with you on "Christmas Shoes." It is a reminder of what we want Christmas to be, while standing in some line to get that "special gift" for someone this year.

As for the "specials" you mentioned, the problem is that the "classic" Christmas movies were not made as Christmas movies, but as good movies with Christmas themes. It is like when you set out to make a "classic" movie. It always bombs. You need to make a good movie and it becomes a classic.

One "recent" movies that is morphing into a Christmas favorite is "Love Actually." It has more continuity problems than my Christmas dinners, but it is a movie I watch every time it is on. SO there is hope for the current generation yet.

Marry Christmas and keep up the good work.

Jazz said...

While I agree with you on most of these points, I must recommend you give some of the Killers Christmas tunes a listen.
They've had one every year since 05, and some of them are a tad forgetable (Boots, Happy Birthday Guadalupe, that song they did with Elton John) and others are kinda out there (Don't Shoot Me Santa, I Feel It In My Bones) but "The Cowboy's Christmas Ball" never fails to put a smile on my face, and "Great Big Sled" in my mind, is already a "new classic".

As for newer specials, they may be loud and intrusive, and don't really have classic potential, but I love both the Fairly Odd Parents Christmas specials, and the Grim Adventures Of Billy and Mandy one.
The Class of 3000 one may have had classic potential, it if it wasn't treated as if it never existed.

Link Within

Blog Widget by LinkWithin