Depicting Santa in Modern Movies

elf-hatI watched the first half of a truly bad Christmas movie last night. Then I went to bed, uninterested in how it turned out. How bad? Santa’s daughter takes her beau to the roof to watch the northern lights. The roof is decorated like a southern California house might be for the holidays. With cotton. It was fake snow as fake as you’d see at a middle school drama club.

And then there was the sunrise. This was a worse boo-boo than Alaska’s early-morning bright in this movie. It was bad enough that last night’s film had lots of magical things. But there are no trees at the North Pole. Even climate change deniers know there’s just plain ice-covered ocean and happy polar bears at ninety degrees north.

And if the writers were really looking at some place in central Alaska, like the town of North Pole, check the sunrise prediction here. Almost 11AM this time of year. Daylight is a business lunch hour for the 1%. If the couple formerly known as Michael J. Fox’s parents on 80’s tv really lived at the North Pole then they would know sunrise would be in March, sunset in September. If memory serves, Polar Express got it right. But that film had me at the hot chocolate song.

I’ve been paying attention to movies in which Santa plays matchmaker to young adults. Mind you, I’m rather partial to non-Santa schemers like the one Doris Roberts played so deliciously here. But I’m curious about the impulse to tell stories in which Santa finds time away from toy factories and reindeer care to nudge two lonely and deserving people into each others’ arms. What does it mean?

Is part of our culture reticent about letting go of a magical figure who once enriched our early Christmas mornings? Adults know that Santa doesn’t deal in X-Boxes or XXX-movies. Maybe love is the only magical thing left in our culture. And if e-harmony can’t do the trick, maybe that jolly old elf can put some happiness into romance. How many single Americans would want to find a special someone asleep under their Christmas tree on the 25th?

Or maybe I’m just over-thinking the whole Christmas movie industry. Hallmark has–what?–nineteen releases? What are cable tv and YouTube going to look like in another century this time of year. I haven’t even seen Elf again … yet.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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