It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas; that is, the mercury is dropping while temperatures are rising due to the war on Christmas waged annually by the secular left and others. The “Happy Holidays” crowd does all it can to erase from sight and mind the very reason for all the December hubbub; the birth of the one that 80% of Americans call their Lord.
While many decry the battle waged by the ACLU against religious displays in schools and public squares across America, the truth is, the campaign against Jesus Christ and the celebration of His birth has been prosecuted far more successfully in the entertainment media than anywhere else. In theaters and on TV, all but a mere trace of the religious aspect of Christmas has been removed, excepting the occasional “documentary” questioning the same.
In Hollywood, the quaint term “Christmas movie” has, of course, morphed into “Holiday release” and is more of a programming note rather than any indication that the movies being released have anything to do with the holiday itself, let alone its namesake.
This year’s crop does not disappoint. While we’ve already had the unleashing of the latest installment of the Harry Potter series — whose treatment of the mystical has raised the hackles of those on the “religious right” — most of the other entries do little to inspire joy at the coming of the Prince of Peace.
Along with the perennial remake of King Kong, we have Rent, an adaptation of the Broadway play which is based on Puccini’s La Boheme but is actually populated with drug addicts and drag queens; The Producers, Mel Brooks’s antic romp featuring con artists and drag queens; and Brokeback Mountain, which is already being referred to as “that gay cowboy movie.” Heady stuff all, and undoubtedly Hollywood’s idea of promoting “good will toward men.”
The sole exception appears to be The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. This movie is based on the classic children’s books of noted Christian writer C.S. Lewis, which naturally have long been criticized “for sexism, racism, and cultural intolerance” and likely will be again.
On television, the dearth of real Christmas programming is no less distressing. Since the arrival of the cute yet commercial “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” nearly all references to the Christ child have been eliminated. A few years ago, a study was conducted to determine how often the birth of Jesus and other spiritual aspects of the season made their way onto our TV sets. The results were predictable:
What was once celebrated as one of the most sacred holy days of the year in American society has now become represented on television as nothing more than a fantasy day where dreams come true. Of the 1,156 hours of television devoted to the theme of Christmas during the month of December (2002), 90% of the shows did not include a major spiritual theme and only 3% of the Christmas programming was devoted to Jesus.
But it wasn’t always that way. Consider that, in 1951, NBC commissioned composer Gian Carlo Menotti to write an original Christmas opera. The result, Amahl and the Night Visitors, is a beautiful work that tells of a poor, crippled, shepherd boy who is visited by the Magi on their way to Bethlehem. Replayed on NBC every year until the original video recording was lost, it continues to be reproduced on stages across the country but not, sadly, on network television.
Also popular was a charming Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation of an adaptation of The Littlest Angel, a book by Robert Tazewell. The story concerns Michael, a young boy who dies and goes to heaven and is an unruly angel, but becomes joyful when his poor gift to the coming Christ child is transformed into the shining star of Bethlehem. Such was the Christmas fare of early TV.
Today however, the closest way to get to the true spirit of the day is to wade through the Santa Clausian mush and look for a faithful rendition of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Though Dickens is unfairly credited with spawning the “modern” way we celebrate the season, it’s hard to feel too far away from its redemptive qualities when reading his “ghostly little book.”
Recently, many ghastly attempts at filming his tale have haunted the airwaves, poisoning the minds of children whose parents grew up with the sublime Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge. In 2000 for example, VH-1 aired “A Diva’s Christmas Carol,” starring Vanessa Williams with the tagline, “Christmas can be such a bitch!” God Bless us every one, indeed.
But Dickens always had the right idea. Perhaps the adults in Hollywood today should take to heart this line from his immortal classic: “It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.”