There’s a reason Christmas movies still work. All is forgiven in the holiday season


IIt’s that time of year again when our spirits soar and daily dopamine is on a peak due to the holiday season. Popular culture heralds the season much earlier – think Christmas lights, shopping sprees for gifts, Santa Claus figurines, Christmas carols and, most importantly, movies.

Guilty pleasure for many, the Christmas movies are an integral part of the season, and the latter only adapt to the times. But have you ever wondered why the same stereotypical scenario of family reunions, celebrations with loved ones, or classic romantic pursuit with a little bit of mystery and magic over and over again somehow still works somehow? ? Such films were shot en masse at this time; while few are good, many of them are not. So why do we love them to hate them?

In the case of most Indian audiences, for whom Christmas is not the main religious or cultural holiday, the genre nevertheless gathers a large audience. More often than not, it is the generations of the 80s and 90s who would agree. The popularity of these films owes a lot to the pre-OTT era of Indian television where channels like HBO, Star Movies, Movies Now, Romedy Now were exclusively broadcasting them. More often than not, you had to be sitting in a townhouse with a fairly decent knowledge of English and sharing “smarter” jokes.

Can we then say that celebrating Christmas is considered “modern”? Is this the westernization bandwagon that Indian millennials have jumped on? I believe what is primarily at work here is our voyeuristic consumption of Western popular culture. Celebrating the season by gifting your loved ones or the idea of ​​a delicious Christmas dinner is something that we – as Indian children – only saw on screen when we were growing up. Watching these movies makes us believe that we are celebrating Christmas itself, much like the characters. For adults, there’s a payoff in place, as these films become a haven from the winter blues. So, as the cold turns ruthless and we refuse to go out, even the most grin-worthy movies are watched with gusto.

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Neuroscience of “Christmas Joy”

According to Olly Robertson, a doctoral researcher in psychology at Keele University, evidence of ‘Christmas cheer’ was found inside the human brain in a study conducted at the University of Denmark in 2015. She has discovered that Christmas stimulants lead to a network of brain regions. lighting up, leading researchers to conclude that they had found the hub of Christmas cheer. “Whenever we encounter objects or ideas that relate to Christmas because of our past, our brain creates the emotion of ‘Christmas cheer’,” writes Robertson. Although scientists have not been able to precisely define this phenomenon, the joy of Christmas can be understood as a gut reaction or an emotion in layman’s terms.

The vacation genre is being built successfully

The vacation genre, typically set in the traditional iconography of the season, is one of the biggest box office revenues, and that’s all too consistently. While classics like It’s a wonderful life, the Alone at home series, Shaved, Where Elf have remained seasonal staples, new ones continue to attract audiences of all ages every year.

A typical Christmas movie should have some degree of festive vibe: Christmas lights, decorations and, of course, your perfect Christmas tree. It also has to be peppered with quintessential elements – be it the entertaining heroism of Kevin McCallister in Alone at home, Buddy’s childish shenanigans in Elf, or the two girls’ house swap adventures in Vacations, all denounce feelings of joy and pleasant emotions. A crucial feeling that runs through these films is that of nostalgia. It often gives adults a window to “become children again” and is deeply imbued with it. In movies like A Christmas story Where Alone at home, we see the world through the eyes of the protagonist children, thus going back to our childhood experiences with shared memories.

Another powerful ingredient is magic. Whether you accept it or not, there is a part in all of us that seeks to believe that “anything is possible” – it is a tempting belief and that the spirit of Christmas catalyzes. As we grew older and the masquerade of the cheerful tall man with the white beard handed you gifts, there remained an element of belief and hope connected with the holiday season. The adult viewer, for whom the world of practicality and responsibility holds an important place, watching these Christmas movies is a reminder of an uncritical and un-cynical faith in the grand scheme of things.

The themes of hope and the possibility of change and redemption, carried out in the name of the Christmas spirit, are the prototype of this genre. A Christmas Carol serves as a perfect example, for Ebenezer Scrooge, cold-hearted, severe and miserly, mellows on Christmas Eve. Even the Grinch, finally making Merry Christmas with the rest of Whoville in How the Grinch Stole Dr Seuss Christmas, is someone we have clung to. The truth is, we believe or would like to innately believe that we can do better than what we are, and it is human for us to simply hope for a better world.

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Much is forgiven in the name of Christmas

Unlike most other genres, tropes and clichés are welcome in vacation movies. There is a comfort in familiarity, and that is precisely why stereotypical and repetitive themes work.

Much is also forgiven on behalf of Christmas. Over-the-top acting paired with muddled storylines and character predictability serve as the ingredients to whip up a bad holiday movie. However, our judgment doesn’t give the film itself much credit as long as it falls under the Christmas umbrella. Christmas party at I love coopers inflates humor in an otherwise average movie. Today, with the advent of OTT platforms, it is easier than ever to reach audiences, and filmmakers with a windfall program are mass producing movies, which are mostly horrible. The Princess Switch the series comes to mind.

Not all Christmas movies are “merry”

While Christmas is primarily associated with positive emotions, for many it evokes regret and loneliness. The time for family reunion and joy turns into intense contemplation, and we take stock of where they see each other in life. Family reunions become a source of stress, as most of us are said to be linked to the deterioration of relationships between our own families. This lack of Christmas cheer is what psychologists have called “bah humbug” syndrome. The Grinch in many movies portrays the syndrome perfectly. The words “bah humbug”, expressing disgust and contempt, were originally uttered by the miser Ebenezer Scrooge in the short story. A Christmas Carol (1843) by English author Charles Dickens. Someone with bah humbug hates or hates the party mood of the season.

There are many Christmas movies that reflect and deal with these universal themes of family – the longing for one, the celebration of one, the famous trope of finding a home, and what home means during the holiday. holiday season. In Stepmother, the realization by Jackie’s children that their mother is terminally ill is as impactful as the happy reunion of the two sisters in Frozen. Despite the mellow undertones and while critical and harsh realities are dealt with, catering is still available to keep the Christmas feeling afloat.

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All’s well That ends well

Simply put, no Christmas movie will have a sad ending. Think of this as a rule of thumb that has long been adopted in the holiday movie making algorithm. Christmas is seen as an opportunity for people to resolve their differences and strengthen their relationships, and this is also reflected in the movies. Kevin from Alone at home Becomes more attached to his family as he learns the foolishness of his ways, and they realize how badly they treated him.

The spirit of Christmas is omnipresent and everything magically works out at the end. Reconciliation comes to mind, and if there’s one thing the audience will take away, it’s that while life seems bleak and unpredictable right now, everything will end well.

(Edited by Humra Laeeq)


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