by T.J. Tranchell
For a movie that won no major awards “A Christmas Story” has hung on in the minds of Americans for 33 years and appears as if it will never go away.
You love it, don’t you? You just can’t wait to get out your VHS copy and shove it into the deck like little Randy Parker burying his face in mashed potatoes. Or maybe you love it so much you actually upgraded to the DVD or Blu-ray.
It could be worse. For the last 15 years, nearly half of the movie’s existence, it has aired for 24 hours straight on cable Christmas Day. Maybe those people are to blame for the continued popularity of Ralphie’s special holiday in which all he wanted was a Red Ryder BB gun.
But no. If people didn’t want to watch “A Christmas Story” over and over, the network execs would have picked something else.
Once Hot Topic and Spencer’s stores — bastions of the odd and the off-kilter — started selling “A Christmas Story” merchandise, I knew it was all over. The ability to watch the movie in an unironic way was gone for me. It is now kitsch and part of American culture instead of just being a fun movie to watch once — once, by golly, just once — a year.
There was a time when people laughed because they had an aunt who always made them something awful to wear every Christmas. Now, people buy replica bunny pajamas and give them as Christmas presents.
Raise your hand if you have, have had, or plan to ever have a stocking-clad plastic leg lamp of any size? They come as small as key chains now.
To you I say, “Oh, fudge.”
It does not take an A++ effort to buy such an item now. You don’t have to enter a contest or wait at home for a crate full of packing material to get one. You go to the mall, you decide which piece of replica paraphernalia you want and you buy it.
Chances are no one will bully you about it, and you won’t have to fake cuss while punching a yellow-eyed, coonskin-capped roustabout on your way home.
There is now zero effort involved in participating in the cult of “A Christmas Story.”
So now, I offer you a challenge. See if you can go the holiday season without watching the movie. If that is too hard, try going the month of December without quoting “A Christmas Story.” It is harder than drinking more Ovaltine but I know you can do it.
I triple-dog-dare you.
Tranchell is a journalism instructor/adviser at the University of Idaho. He used to like “A Christmas Story” before it became inescapable. Now his favorite Christmas movies are “Die Hard,” “Love Actually,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Krampus.” What is your favorite holiday movie? Let’s talk: firstname.lastname@example.org.