Ed. Note: Who doesn’t fight with loved ones at some point during the holidays? Fault Lines alumni Mario Machado and Chris Seaton seem to love arguing with each other, so they put a debate topic on Twitter, and with over sixty percent of the vote, SJ readers chose “Resolved: Die Hard is a Christmas Movie” as the SJ Holiday Debate topic. Chris will argue the affirmative, Mario the negative. Below is Mario’s argument.
Eight minutes into the Die Hard celluloid and inside a limo, John McClane asks his driver why he’s not playing “Christmas music.” McClane is on to something very early, if only by accident, because this movie isn’t about Christmas. This movie is about an overzealous NY cop, played by Bruce Willis, who managed to fool enough people to demand – and pay for – a series of potboilers that would make Baby Jesus hide his face and weep.
Before I go forth, I’ll tell you folks which ones are truly Christmas movies, most of which my beautiful and patient GF has enlightened me about, since I’ve always been a scrooge when it comes to pop culture:
The last one is mostly my choice, since it is dark, disturbed, and it makes a mockery of that thing people call Christmas. After the first 22 minutes of Die Hard, during which you see a Christmas tree for the first time (See? that’s it! It’s a Christmas movie!) something finally happens, in which some Steven-Seagal-looking goons break out some Radio-Shack inspired machine guns and start to shoot up the building. I can hear the Yuletide carols already, my brothers and sisters.
Thirty-five minutes into the movie, and still no signs of Santa, Christmas trees, Salvation Army volunteers, or any other signs of the winter solstice holidays. This is a marathon: me still looking for any of the typical symbols of the compulsory infliction of joy that involves this time of year, but I shall endure.
Well after the halfway point, you see a few miniature Christmas trees here and there, but that is it. No gifts exchanged, no Disney-like appreciation for the holiday. To use a phrase I stole and have used time and time again from a civil litigation pleading years ago, so far there is a “glaring dearth of evidence” of Die Hard being anything close to a Christmas movie. That infamous intolerant Protestant, Oliver Cromwell, famous for banning Christmas celebrations, would be happy as a clam with my position in this debate so far.
Die Hard climaxes with a ton of 90’s movies cliché gunfights, only to end with the “good guy” coming out unscathed, as usual. He gets the girl, the cops win, and there is a cool clip of McClane’s squeeze socking a reporter in the mouth for asking him something untoward. But we yet remain where we started: no references to a birth that supposedly occurred in Bethlehem, no gifts given, no occupancy of the public square by Church-minded folks, not even a Dickensian “compliments of the season” being exchanged by the protagonists. I’m starting to feel that my dear friend Chris just picked the wrong movie for the wrong time to argue about. We could’ve sparred over another movie featuring another robotic actor, like maybe Jingle All the Way, and that would’ve given Chris a fighting chance.
Die Hard also has a major temporal defect when it comes to being considered a Christmas movie; it was released in July of 1988, a long ways away from December 24. Yes, there are those who begin to look forward to Christmas right after Thanksgiving (an unfailing sign of a disordered person, by the way), but July? That’s pushing the envelope, to say the very least…
My writing brother and partner in crime, CLS, picked the wrong battle this time. Again. He asked a living and breathing Ebenezer to point out how a third-rate flick like Die Hard ain’t no damn Christmas movie. I felt like I was pushing through an open door. All scrapping aside, however, I wish Chris, Scott, and everyone else who hangs out in this hotel a merry damn Christmas. Yippee Ki Yay moth…well, you folks get the point.