If you’re like me, one of the things you appreciate the most about the holiday season is incessantly watching Christmas movies. From the moment the dishes are cleared on Thanksgiving night through Christmas Eve, it’s All Christmas Everything up in here, as far as I’m concerned. From the old school, stop-motion classics such as “Jack Frost” and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” to more modern favorites like “Elf” and “Polar Express,” – and let’s not forget about the incredibly sappy but so, so great Hallmark Christmas specials! – holiday movies absolutely make the season merry and bright.
But upon further review, some of these films have the most questionable of underlying messages. So far, we’ve thrown at “Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas” as well as “” “,” and “” For the last installment, we take a look at the story about an air rifle and a little boy named Ralphie who will do anything to get it.
Every year during the Christmas season, you can count on a few things – scrambling for last-minute gifts, someone getting allllll the way turnt up at the company holiday party and TNT/TBS playing “A Christmas Story” for 24-straight hours on Christmas Eve, throughout Christmas Day.
The 1983 film, set in the late 1940s, is so beloved in American culture that in 2012, the Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry for being “historically, culturally or aesthetically significant.”
And that’s all well and good, but let me be the first to tell you – “A Christmas Story” is a celebration of a kid who complains for legit the whole entire movie until he gets what he wants. And I have no time for it. I’m sure to most people it’s endearing because they remember being a kid and wanting that one thing for Christmas, and losing their minds hoping Santa would bring it. I feel that. I really do. But…no.
We’re presented a story about young Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley), who only really wants one thing for Christmas – a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle.
We know this because he says it fifty-leven times throughout the film. But everyone tells him that he can’t have it because:
Low-key though, this is a completely valid reason not to get a 9-year-old an air rifle. The potential for injury is HIGH. But hey, the ‘80s were a different time, I guess. We just let kids do all kinds of stuff.
Anyway, Ralphie spends a fair portion of the movie explaining that he wants this rifle, and all the adults – his mom, his teacher and even a mall Santa! – completely dismiss this request. And so this goes on and on and on all film, until Christmas morning arrives.
In case you forgot:
Very good. So, Ralphie sprints to the Christmas tree and launches himself into the presents, desperate to find this air rifle that will complete his young life. Except…there’s no Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle under the tree. Devastated, Ralphie is ready to sulk, despite so many other great gifts.
And this is where the movie loses me. Ralphie is so freaking ungrateful!
Never mind the fact that his parents got him all kinds of other dope stuff. Nor the fact that moments later, his dad, “The Old Man” tells Ralphie to look around for one more gift, thereby revealing that Ralphie does, indeed, get the stupid air rifle. Ralphie really got up here on Christmas day and pouted because he didn’t get one gift.
On principle his dad shouldn’t have even given him the rifle, since he had such a bad attitude about not receiving it in the first place.
Is this really a moral we want to impress upon impressionable children – that they can whine and complain and ultimately they will be rewarded with what they wanted in the first place?
Nah, son. Not today.
So Ralphie takes the gun outside to shoot it, and a BB ricochets off a metal sign in his backyard and knocks his glasses off. Panicked, Ralphie thinks he has indeed shot his eye out – which is what all the adults said would happen! – and he steps on his glasses and breaks them. Ralphie tells his mom that an icicle fell on his face and broke his glasses, and somehow this is believable to an adult lady.
I mean, for real. How did that lie even work?! How did Momma Parker (Melissa Dillon) accept that as the story and not offer any follow up questions? Granted, my experience with icicles is limited. But wouldn’t you need, like, a whole glacier to fall on your face to be strong enough to break glasses?
Anyway. I digress. The film ends with Ralphie falling asleep on Christmas night with his new rifle right next to him in his bed, and Grown-Up Ralphie remarks that it was the best Christmas gift he ever received.
Can I just say that the when I saw this movie for the first time, I thought it was hella average? Live look-in at me trying to finish it:
Maybe I watched the movie too late in life. I saw it for the first time as an adult, and all I could focus on was how much Ralphie whined and complained until he got what he wanted. Maybe as a millennial, the 1980s imagery and jokes were lost on me. Whatever the case, “A Christmas Story” just didn’t move way me the way it seems to move the masses.
Honestly, all the funny parts of the movie were tangential to the main plot — and those funny parts do not include the one scene that has not aged well at all – when the Parkers go to a Chinese restaurant on Christmas after the neighbor’s dog ruins their turkey dinner:
Like the “Abraham” scene from “Holiday Inn,” this is one that just does not play well for a modern audience. That incredibly thick, stereotypical and derogatory interpretation of the Chinese accent is just…yikes.
But hey. That “Triple Dog Dare” scene was pretty cool and iconic in all of cinema. So, uh…there’s that, I guess?