A certain annoyance began to creep in, and I wasn’t enjoying them as much anymore. I began to see a connection between these movies, and Trump’s victory.
How Those Damned Hallmark Christmas Movies Helped Hillary Lose
Credit: Public domain
December 22, 2016

As it turns out, I was not the only Hillary supporter grieving over her loss to the Cheeto Bandito by immersing herself in Christmas movies. It wasn’t as if we could stand to watch cable news, the same bastards who savaged her and ignored Trump’s endless conflicts of interest. So Hallmark and Lifetime seemed like realistic options.

For the first two weeks, I was happy to have that distraction. After all, it’s kind of soothing to know everything eventually works out and there’s a happy ending. But a certain annoyance began to creep in, and I wasn’t enjoying them as much anymore. I began to see a connection between these movies, and Trump’s victory.

“I’m watching those Christmas movies…” I’d say to my friends.

“Oh yeah, me, too!”

“But I’ve started to notice something. They’re extremely … um, anti-feminist?”

As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one who noticed.

Because these movies are aimed at women, they feature female protagonists (99% of them white and Christian. What’s up with that?). Here’s the most common theme: Workaholic woman finally sees the light, leaves her silly job behind, and settles for true love and at least one adorable stepchild (whose mother is always conveniently dead).

Granted, this roughly follows the “A Christmas Carol” story line, but in light of the unique obstacles faced by women, not quite fair. After all, half of those “happy ever after” marriages end in divorce, and a household already scraping by on two paychecks is not likely to do well after a split. Divorced mom is pushing hard to do well at work because her future, and that of her children, depends on it.

It isn’t because she doesn’t value Christmas, is what I’m saying. It’s because she doesn’t want the family to live in a cardboard box on the street.

And the really irksome part of these movies is, men don’t come in for the same gentle criticism women get from their guardian angels, or the local Santa surrogate. That’s because the men always have some marginal but deeply fulfilling job, like running a failing Christmas tree farm that’s been in the family for generations. (How lucky for him that a marketing executive’s vintage Mustang broke down in their Christmas-lovin’ village. Because it’s only a matter of a half-hour or so before she falls in love with Mr. Christmas Tree and will be leaving her misguided big-city ways behind.)

It isn’t because she doesn’t value Christmas, is what I’m saying. It’s because she doesn’t want the family to live in a cardboard box on the street.

One Christmas movie in particular irked me. It was about a career woman who wondered if she’d made the right choice, turning down her boyfriend’s proposal years ago.

A Christmas miracle! Suddenly, Big-City Career Woman is now married to her old love, living in the suburbs with two adorable children. It’s Freaky Friday, only with grownups! Except these kids are really not adorable. They’re over-indulged brats of the kind you would recognize if you’ve ever lived in certain suburbs, predictable products of those “fulfilled” helicopter parents.

That’s not part of the plot, by the way. We’re supposed to see why she begins to love these kids, and why the tug of her old life lessens.

But here’s what I noticed — and my friends did, too: The kids chided her after she bought cookies at a bakery for a school function. “You’re supposed to make them,” one of the kids said, sulking during the inevitable SUV commute to school.

Normal mothers (that is, the kind of smart, good-humored women I know) would have responded with a sadistic laugh and said, “Get over it. I only have so many hours in my day, they’re lucky to get anything.” (Not to mention that, at least in the schools my kids attended, no one would put that kind of expectation on working moms.)

Then there was the sight of her two adorables, sitting expectantly at the breakfast counter. “Why aren’t you eating? It’s almost time to leave!” Mom says, impatient.

And the kids (approximately 10 and 8 years old) respond, “You didn’t pour our cereal!” The cereal that is sitting on the counter in front of them.

She looks at them, and pours the cereal. They’re still not eating. Now what?
“You didn’t pick out the fruity bits!” the boy complains. “You know I don’t like them!” The girl chimes in: “I like the fruity bits, you always put his in my cereal!”

Dad then cruises into the kitchen. He looks down at the cereal bowls and says to his wife, “You didn’t take out the fruity bits.”

(At which point, any normal woman would have screamed, “Is your frickin’ arm broken?” and thrown the frickin’ cereal box at his head. Which is why I’m pretty sure this one was written by a man.)

In this same movie, Mom arranges for a new job in San Francisco that will allow her to resume her career. But it means they have to move, and Dad is not happy. He eventually comes around, but when she has to fly to San Francisco to meet with her prospective boss and it means she’ll miss her kids’ Christmas play (the Christmas play their father is already attending!), she realizes What’s Really Important, leaves her new opportunity behind and becomes a presumably happier Stepford wife. (At least, until Dad has an affair with the new marketing exec because all Mom ever talks about these days is the goddamned kids.)

But my God, the coded messages in these movies! The not-so-subtle hints that “good” women only select from a narrow range of options, that children are the literal center of the universe, or the stipulation that ambitious career women are always flawed in some deep and disturbing way.

Women aren’t allowed to dream big. A good woman always pulls back at the last minute, and saves Christmas.

“There’s just something about her. I can’t put my finger on it, but I don’t trust her. ”

Gee, I wonder where that came from.

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