Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Where have all the Thanksgiving films gone?

Property The Daily Gamecock

It’s mid-November, and the smell of turkey and pumpkin pie is beginning to waft through the air in preparation for the pre-Christmas feast.

Apparently the media have decided there are two things in this world that sell like nothing else: sex and Christmas. Is it only a matter of time before Santa Claus and his elves star in an off-color comedy where the North Pole becomes a brothel?

Disney’s latest effort to start the holiday season as early as possible, their 3-D adaptation of “A Christmas Carol,” has collected $63.3 million off its first two weeks, which begs the question, how early is too early for the holiday spirit?

And let’s face it, Nov. 6 is probably too early. ABC Family, a Disney-owned property, is currently in the midst of their countdown to the 25 Days of Christmas. A countdown to a countdown? Have the holidays really come to a shameless exploitation of pre-existing properties?

The way things are going, Santa Claus will be a stop on the annual haunted house.
What about Thanksgiving? Sure, it may be a historically simplified holiday that celebrates a fleeting moment in colonial history when settlers and Native Americans shared food and community before the impending genocide, but its spiritual meaning of family and blessing should still be considered separate from yule tide joy instead of a mere road bump on the way to Dec. 25.

Way back when, and honestly who can remember exactly when, the folks at NBC developed the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for a strategic marketing reason. Santa Claus came at the end of the parade because it was the ultimate symbol for the start of the shopping season.

Hollywood will always produce a feel-good Christmas movie every season, there’s no fighting that. But why not make some great Thanksgiving movies? Maybe if Disney can figure that one out, they can stop showing “Harry Potter” during ABC’s 25 Days of Christmas.

Where’s the Tom Turkey superhero movie the world’s been dying for? Where are more films like the tiny 2003 indie “Pieces of April,” that was simply about a daughter trying to throw Thanksgiving for her parents? Or a new period piece about the holiday itself that could try to not be patronizing about the U.S.’s early relationships with natives of the continent we now call our own?

Thanksgiving has, at least in the media, eluded proper celebration and recognition for years now. Whereas the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was once a transition device that ebbed from fall to winter and from Thanksgiving to Christmas over the course of its long crawl through New York City, the lack of a clear distinction to the start of the Christmas season has made this anticipated event lose some of its splendor and cultural significance.
While the marketing and promotion of the Christmas spirit, at least outside the religious sense, has rested almost solely in the hands of the entertainment industry, they’ve perverted and stretched their most profitable time of the year so much it’s bordering on distortion.

The 3-D gimmick “A Christmas Carol” is only the most recent culprit. When a remake of “Miracle on 34th Street” inevitably comes out the same weekend as “Saw XV,” the world will be in trouble. Or at the very least, extremely confused. But if it sells, then sell more of it. That’s Entertainment.

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