You’ll shoot your eye out, Kid


What’s your favorite Christmas movie? It might tell a bit more about you then just your taste in holiday films. Dr. James Emery White writes:

A couple of years ago a film crew from our church hit the streets of Charlotte, N.C., to produce a “person on the street” video asking people, “What comes to your mind when you think of the Christmas story?”
Number one answer?

“The movie.”

Yep, the 1983 “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid” tale from 1940s Indiana of a 9-year-old boy’s desire for a Red-Ryder Carbon-Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle BB gun (and, lest we forget, with a compass in the stock).

An intriguing editorial in TIME magazine at around the same time noted how A Christmas Story had become the quintessential American film for Christmas, replacing It’s a Wonderful Life. Titled “Generation X-Mas,” it chronicled how an “upstart film became a holiday icon for the post-boomer set.”

As for George Bailey?

“Not so into him anymore.”…

The great divide between It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story is more than just the radical individualism that marks our day, but what has spawned such individualism. The real divide between the two films is that one retains the idea that Christmas is about the birth of the Christ child, and one does not. 

Unless I have missed it, A Christmas Story does not have a single reference, symbol, picture or event that would suggest Christmas is about the birth of Christ, or has religious significance of any kind. A brief snippet of “Go Tell It on the Mountain” is revealed in a downtown scene, but that’s about it. No nativity scenes, no church services, no Christian music – even the department store, Higbees, honors the season not with shepherds or wise men, but with characters from The Wizard of Oz.

It’s a Wonderful Life, on the other hand, was rich in Christian idea and ethos, from traditional Christmas songs celebrating the birth of Christ (the climax of the movie is marked by the spontaneous outburst of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”) to the central character of an angel.

Honestly, I never thought about “A Christmas Story” in such a way before, despite watching it a million times (Jos loved turning on the TV to the nonstop 24 hour marathon on cable. Oddly, my mom loves watching the Yule Log endlessly burn on Channel 11. Ah, my family and holidays, it’s *really* monotonous.). It really doesn’t have much of any religious themes to it. But my preference for it over “It’s a Wonderful Life” is the sarcasm, the satire and the lack of saccharine. Plus, it’s WAY shorter. I mean, viewers watch George Bailey over decades, and the result is… I feel like years of my life have passed, too. It’s not to say I don’t like it because I do. But hands down, I’d choose Ralphie over George anyday.

That being said, my absolute favorite? “A Charlie Brown Christmas” of course!

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