Clichés and stereotypes in holiday movies

Are all the holiday films we watch the same at their cores?


Photographer: Lisa Zins

Movies like The Grinch have plot and character similarities with many other classic holiday films. This led many to think why this is. Image obtained via creative commons license.

Noah Barnes and Paarth Soni

Holiday spirit is in the air with the Christmas season fast approaching. A widespread tradition for many households is watching a classic Christmas film.

“I like to spend my time [during] the holidays with family and friends hanging out, making food, giving gifts, doing puzzles and watching movies together,” junior Kylee Majkowski said.

However, over the years these holiday movies have become cookie cutter and unoriginal.

“I think it’s very easy for the Hallmark brand of holiday movies to fall into the same plotline with essentially the same characters. It just gets repetitive seeing the same [romantic comedy] plot over and over again,” Majkowski said.

Sometimes while watching, the thought of how each movie seems so similar to a generic formula comes to mind. A formula to make the perfect holiday movie has to be made.

The first step is establishing the setting. Successful Christmas movies like Home Alone and Daddy’s Home 2 each take place in a wintery setting full of snow and décor in a family house: the family house should also have holiday decorations such as a pine tree with lights and ornaments. The tried and true method of establishing the setting of the movie with a kid in trouble surrounded by his close friends and family leads to a homey feel that so many of us associate with the holiday season.

The classic blueprint for a holiday film family consists of these specific characters: dopey dad, an overbearing mother, and sprightly children, which can be endearing or boring.

It would help to include extended family as well. Having Grandparents, aunts, cousins, and other relatives in the plot makes the movie more interesting.

“There’s also a lot of stereotypes in general when it comes to the sassy best friend, the wise grandparent, and the villain of each story. not that it’s a terrible thing, but it’s very predictable,” Majowski said.

Once we’ve got the setting and characters locked down, it’s time to move on to the third and final step: the plot.

The plot of the movie has to include some conflict that the family undergoes, preferably two days before Christmas. The whole idea of having Christmas as a family should be in jeopardy. There has to be some external factor preventing the family from getting together. The characters must work together to resolve the conflict and be with each other before Christmas day. In the end, the conflict is meant to unite the family and get the characters closer to one another.

The morals of the story all seem to tie into the same ideal: faithful and honest behavior results in good tidings for the holiday season.