Dec 15, 2021
A blast from the past teaches a town to embrace tradition and believe in miracles we simply can’t explain. A cynical urban professional finds kindness and purpose while traveling through the heartland. Two old flames living in the fast lane discover, amid the magic of Christmas, that they were meant for each other all along.
These loglines describe the plots of countless movies made for and broadcast by Hallmark, the famed greeting card company-turned-media conglomerate that has become synonymous with made-for-TV Christmas movies. The Hallmark Cinematic Universe is one in which the fantasies of conservatives everywhere are played out: everyone in town is part of a white nuclear family, bartenders and waiters are happy to be of service, single women are emotionally unfulfilled, police and the military are uniformly viewed as heroes, and the largesse of the wealthy brings joy to wholesome small towns.
While it’s easy, and of course fun, to dunk on Hallmark and Hallmark-inspired Christmas movies, it’s also worth examining the political currents of Christmas movie schmaltz. What ideological precepts are their themes of nostalgia meant to reinforce? And what tropes do they perpetuate behind the cozy iconography of fuzzy sweaters and snow-lined sidewalks?
On this episode, we seek to answer these questions, focusing on four movies: Journey Back to Christmas (2016), The Christmas Train (2017), Entertaining Christmas (2018), and Operation Christmas Drop (2020). We’ll dive into the ways in which nostalgia for an imaginary MAGA-style past informs their character development, settings, and plots, leaving little room for messaging other than ‘Let’s go back to the good old days.’
Our guest is writer David Roth.