The studios responsible for these films, such as the Motion Picture Corporation of America or MarVista Entertainment, are largely unknown. They don’t want to make Oscar winners, but they do want to make solid material. That trustworthiness must extend to the worldview offered.
Movie for Christmas time
The real America is a racially diverse and politically polarised country. There are no partisan political divides in Christmas America, and practically everyone is white. With her new small-town firefighter beau, the big-city lawyer who finds love when she returns home for the holidays never has a heated argument about a woman’s freedom to choose. Even Operation Christmas Drop, in which an ambitious congressional staffer is dispatched by her employer to visit an Air Force installation in Guam to see if it may be decommissioned, ends with the member of Congress opting to spare the Guam base by sacrificing one in her own district. Before that happens, reindeer will fly above the Capitol dome. Nonetheless, the military and the difficulties it causes families are reoccurring themes. If a parent is missing, we’re likely to find that they’ve been deployed—but rarely to where. There is always a military in Christmas movies, but never a conflict.
Even in films with explicitly military themes, such as USS Christmas, There’s only a smidgeon of a suggestion that the military is meant to be used against enemies. The military’s omnipresence, as well as the kid-glove treatment it receives, is the most accurate depiction of American politics in Christmas movies. By a long margin, the military is the most trusted institution in the United States—a rare area of bipartisan agreement. However, partisanship divides Americans’ views on whether Russia is a friend or foe. Americans agree simply that they need a military, not why, in Christmas movies and in real life. The treatment of international relations in these films is fanciful, even by Christmas movie norms of realism. In a standard scenario, a plain-spoken American woman meets and befriends European royalty. This simple concept has been converted into two successful Netflix series: A Christmas Prince and The Princess Switch. If “Africa is not a country” is a common complaint about Americans’ astounding ignorance of the world, the presence of princes shows that Americans also need to be reminded that most European countries are republics. They’re modernised versions of the 19th-century swashbuckling tales set in fictional monarchs known as “Ruritanian romances.”
However, there will be less adventure and more garlands. The default assumption in Christmas movies is that the classless, democratic ethos of Americans clashes with the reserved temperament of stuffy upper-crust Europeans. The reality is quite different. Rankings such as the Varieties of Democratic index consistently demonstrate that the United States lags below other rich countries in terms of democracy quality. Moving up the economic class ladder in the United States is more difficult than it is in Europe. The brave American woman demonstrates to the restrained prince the need of caring for his people by employing orphans as a stand-in. It’s never explained why there are so many orphanages in rich kingdoms, but there are always more—”It’s a global tour of orphans,” one character cries in A Princess Switch: Switched Again. Of course, the United States has a greater rate of child poverty than most European countries. These so-called “foreign” countries are never truly alien. Everyone speaks English, usually with a Received Pronunciation accent, which is ideal for monoglot Americans who don’t need to learn a new language to join a foreign royal family.
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