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Those Sappy Christmas Movies

Yes, I confess, Hallmark makes them just for me. Altho I admit, I prefer the funny ones. I write such long, involved, angsty stuff, it’s nice to just sit back once in a while and watch something simple and predictable. I record them all and delete about half as unwatchable, but I do enjoy a lot of them. I’ve even gotten CJC to admit a few as worth watching.

Well, she doesn’t turn them off, anyway. 😀

Years ago, after I sold GroundTies, et al, I went back to WAZZU to try and get life credit for my two missing GURs in Humanities and get my degree. The head of the English department, sitting in an office draped with plastic against major remodelling…in a three piece suit…in August… in Pullman (it was 100 degrees outside) sat back and said pompously, “Whereas selling a novel is certainly an ac-comp-lish-ment, it does not replace nine-teenth century lit-ra-chur.”  (Danislav could have been modeled on this fool, but I’d already written the book. ;))

Mind you…I’d sat in on a couple of those 19th C lit classes back in my college days looking for Humanities classes I wanted, and listened to these pompous twits deconstructing stories and talking about all the hidden symbolism…and never ever talking about what the books really meant both to the writers and to the people reading them, the way they moved reader’s guts and why and how… (I maintain none of the deconstruction means anything unless they have it in writing from the authors that that was what they were thinking when they wrote it….sometimes a whirlpool is just a whirlpool) Anyway, I’d had my fill of writing what some clueless Lit person wanted to hear in my active college years. I wasn’t about to warp my mind…especially a mind needing to write not deconstruct according to some non-writer’s rules…in order to get a grade…so I remain without my degree.

Edit: CJC brings up a great point: the only useful kind of question in this context w/b to ask students what they would have done differently in a story and why. These idiots do NOT know what the creators were thinking when they wrote these classics.

(Trust me…these two disparate subjects will come together!)

When I was a kid, I was really moved by the story “Gift of the Magi”, so when I saw a modern retelling among the listed options, I was quite excited.

Five minutes into it, I deleted it in disgust. Newlyweds moving into a HUGE city flat that “needs a few holes filled” (likely nail holes from the previous tenants…this place never saw so much as a cockroach) Our “hero’s” “treasure” is a vintage car that needs a special steering wheel. Our “heroine’s treasure” is a camera for which she wants a fancy lens. HUH?!? Give me a break. Gift is about giving up the only material thing you have to celebrate a time of giving with the most important person in your life…  even when you have NOTHING. About love being far more important than material things.These two have jobs in the city. A city apartment. Money for a tree and gifts. They want TOYS!

I wish I could say this is a gross destruction of the message for the sake of relevancy, but I don’t think so. I think it’s bad fanfic by someone without a clue. I think they really believed it was equivalent.

It disturbs me how often I read or watch something where the real depth of meaning of the story being created is simply lost. Part of the job of a writer is being aware of the psychological subtleties and implications of the story you create and at least trying to use them effectively to help the reader gain insight without preaching to them. You don’t necessarily write to do that…for instance, I write from the gut and only realize the implications after I’m into it…but at some point you need to edit with that clarity of sight. I see way too much setup and lack of follow through in both books and movies/TV.

I blame those Lit classes.

(Edit: one of the greats of SF expressed it far better than I. Uncle Ike’s Immortal Bard)

1 comment to Those Sappy Christmas Movies

  • You know, I remember the first time I saw “The Gift of the Magi”, it was a black-and-white film made probably in the 40s. It held pretty true to O. Henry’s original short story.

    I guess if I had to pick a Christmas movie, it would be “A Christmas Carol” starring George C. Scott in the role of Scrooge. Even though he doesn’t speak with a British accent, Scott does what I think is a wonderful rendition of the old skinflint.

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