Every holiday season, a heated debate renews over the validity of calling the 1988 movie Die Hard a “Christmas movie.” The action-thriller is about a terrorist plot that takes place on Christmas Eve and is foiled by its hero, played by Bruce Willis. Technically, since the story takes place on Christmas Eve, it is a Christmas movie. The pushback is that it doesn’t have the typical seasonal elements viewers associate with Christmas: no magical/fantastical North Pole, no Santa and reindeer, no kids or elves. But it does have something threatening Christmas and our notions of peace on earth and goodwill toward men—a threat that takes on a real-world form rather than a magical one.
In this episode of Persuasion, Erin Straza and Hannah Anderson continue their mini-series called A Persuasion Christmas. Each episode features conversation about a specific way pop culture is shaping our mindset and approach to celebrating the season. The first conversation, A Hallmark Christmas, covered our desire for goodness and predictability at Christmas. This installment begins with a discussion about the Christmas Spirit and how we’ve leaned hard into the merry-and-bright aspect of the season, almost to a fault. That’s why the nontraditional Christmas film Die Hard gets so much grief—it forces viewers to see the world for all it is—both good and evil, and evil doesn’t stop just because the calendar says December 25. Erin and Hannah use the Die Hard story to launch discussion about Christmas-like films that present realistic terrors. How does the action-thriller genre depict a more realistic backdrop for the Messiah’s birth? Why do we long to sanitize the nativity scene and the Christmas narrative? When we refuse to acknowledge the very real terror and brokenness in the world today, how does that weaken the rescue Jesus provides? Conversation covers everything from the historical backdrop of Jesus’ birth to the definition of the Christmas Spirit. Listen in for dialogue on topics like these for the Christmas mini-series, then continue the conversation on Twitter @PersuasionCAPC or in the CAPC members-only community on Facebook.
Persuasion 180 Resources & Links
Is “Die Hard” a Christmas film?, The Economist
Want to Get Into the Christmas Spirit? Face the Darkness, by Tish Harrison Warren, New York Times
We Wish You a Scary Christmas: Holiday-Horror and the Glory of the Incarnation, by Blaine Grimes, Christ and Pop Culture
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Theme music by Maiden Name. Produced by Jonathan Clauson.