Okay, I hate to break the news, but we’re in the holiday season. And because I have a little time on my hands, I’ve been overdosing on Hallmark Christmas movies. Like, I’ve watched 12 so far and my brain is melting a little. WHY DOES EVERY PERSON DRINK SO MUCH HOT CHOCOLATE IN THESE MOVIES I DO NOT UNDERSTAND. I started with this year’s and have since gone through all the new ones from last year that I missed, with randos sprinkled in along the way.
You’ve probably seen at least one of these movies in your life, with catchy, non-identifying titles like “My Christmas Dream,” “Love like Christmas,” “Marry Me at Christmas,” and my personal favorite – “Snow,” and “Snow 2.” The fluff is so real and vague with these things, it’s truly amazing. Hallmark is known for it’s amazingly cheesy G rated, feel good movies that range from B to D list actors and a lot of fake snow. The basic formula for their christmas movies is as follows.
Main Character, Person A we’ll call them, is living their life. They’re generally pretty successful, pretty much always women, living in a fancy city like New York or LA, wear fancy clothes and are a work-aholic. It’s also made abundantly clear they are super unhappy, even if they don’t know it themselves. After the introduction, conflict 1 comes to play. This is normally a need for inspiration, a job threatening firing or promotion, or whatever. Then, they meet Person B, grounded real life person, maybe on a farm, with a kid or something else intriguing. They meet, fight a little, connect and grow closer. There is also probably magic music when they look at each other.
Then, conflict B comes up, normally connected to conflict A, there’s drama, the couple gets mad at each other, then Person A comes to the realization that they didn’t need that job and just needed the insta-family or stability Person B provides. Then they kiss and the movie is over. Cue the falling snow and Christmas music.
Depending on the quality of the movie, there’s also generally some hijinks, quips and banter that is either dad-joke status or worse, or just drama. Maybe even some fake tears.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m obsessed with these movies. The cheesiness is good for my millennial pink heart. But they are one very specific example of mainstream media and the general out of touch state we find ourselves. The Hallmark formula works, and obviously they make money off of it, but it showcases the general tone deaf nature of what the media thinks we want and what we really need.
There is no diversity in these movies. Out of the 12 I’ve watched thus far, only one had main characters who weren’t white and a vague reference to hispanic culture. They normally showcase a workaholic blonde women who learns the power of family and small towns and mistletoe and turns down a promotion or a job or general success to stick with said family and small town. Why can’t these women have both? Why are they so jaded to begin with? What’s with the trope that women can’t be nice and successful, or have great jobs and families at the same time, or what if they don’t even want an insta-family and just want to be successful. I DON’T GET IT.
Hallmark has decided that those stories don’t get to be told, and the diversity just isn’t there. We don’t see any real world conflict or self awareness of a larger world. And yeah, I get that this is fluff, but what about other, more mainstream media?
Let’s talk about Pitch Perfect. It’s a fantastic movie, I love and quote it regularly. It was such a huge step outside of the norm, with Acapella singing, girl power, friendship and amazing banter.
It was such a success, they decided to make a sequel. Pitch Perfect 2 came along and we all hoped it would live up to the hype. What they made, however, was the exact same thing as the first movie. Different settings but same conflict, same character motivation, no growth whatsoever. What made the first movie was how new and unique it was and what made the second movie bad was the new and unique thing was repeated.
I don’t want the same movie over and over again. I don’t want sequels of the same thing, I want new content with character growth, real connections, new bants, real world self awareness and a general excitement for life. Do you know where you can find such content? Youtube.
Being internet famous is a relatively new thing. With daily vloggers, beauty and lifestyle influencers and general shenanigans, there’s tons of content happening every day. And let’s be real, some of it is terrible. But some of it is really great. There are real people, giving real reviews, living their real lives, having real relationships and putting it online. Granted, it isn’t for everyone, but the fact that these people have millions of followers, live shows, merchandise that sells all year long and people stopping them in the streets to take pictures tells you a lot.
People are creating the content they want to see, which is real, self aware people living real lives and having real relationships. And it’s popular! It works! People watch it! I like it! And it fills the void big movies and media is creating. The mainstream is pushing what they think we want down our throats, throwing us a bone every once in a while – insert WONDER WOMAN HERE CAUSE IT WAS AWESOME – but generally ignoring what we want as consumers by giving canned sequels and tone deaf tropes.
User generated content like what you find on youtube or tumblr creates those real emotions and connections that create depth and diversity. And that is why it is so popular. People want content they can relate to and connect with, giving them representation and real world advice, but is also new and exciting and funny.
So hey, in this world of content overload, why can’t we have both? I want awesome action scenes and genuine connection, plus stuff that surprises me and makes me lol. And Hallmark movies for that millennial pink heart of mine. A happy medium per-say. And a lot more Pitch Perfect memes, cause they make me happy.
And those are my thoughts after melting my brain with Hallmark movies for the last three days. I guess it’s time to get back to reality :/.
So, what do you think? Do you agree, do you disagree? What do you want to see more of in the media?
Thanks for reading my word vomit for the day, check me out on insta at @dressingoptimistically and catch you on the flip side.