So have you heard about the new Christmas movie coming out soon called Christmas with a Capital C? You’ll never guess what it’s about. Here’s a hint: It’s one of Bill O’Reilly’s favorite things to harp on starting right about this time of year. That’s right! It’s about the:
WAR ON CHRISTMAS!
When you first see the trailer you’ll think it’s a parody, but it’s not. Check it:
Is that just flabbergasting or what? The Digital Cuttlefish, which is where I saw this trailer first, pretty much sums it up:
No wonder people look at me strangely when they find I’m an atheist; this movie presents what they think atheists are, and I am not at all like that. Come to think of it, nobody is like that.
This is a beautiful piece of propaganda; in the trailer alone, the revisionist history about both the holiday and the country shine through. As most of us know (except, of course, the people who need to the most), the beginnings of Christmas in America (home of The War On Christmas, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fox News) were not festive in the least. The Puritans had better, purer things to do on December 25th (for a couple of decades in the 1600’s, Boston even had a law prohibiting the celebration of Christmas!); a Christmas holiday as we know it did not begin until the 1800’s. Interestingly, celebrating Christmas (as opposed to observing it) spread with the notion of Santa, “The Night Before Christmas”, and commercial connections to stores and products, not with the story of the birth of god’s human sacrifice.
Yes, that’s right. The rise in popularity of the modern holiday of Christmas had more to do with Santa and good old fashioned materialism than anything having to do with the birth of Christ. Which shouldn’t be too surprising considering that the original holiday was dreamed up by the Catholic church to allow the Pagans to continue their Winter Solstice celebrations with the “proper” religious iconography in hopes that converting them would be easier. It’s basis in Pagan rituals is part of the reason so many True Christians® in the past made a point of banning it in the legal code of the time. But that’s not what we’re here to talk about. We’re here to talk about the delusion of Christian persecution this movie represents.
Apparently this film was in production back in February and is just getting noticed outside of the Christian nutcase fringe because it was shown at the Family Research Council’s Values Voters Summit last night. Seeing as a lot of news media actually give that convention of the religiously obsessed more attention that it probably deserves this was the first major exposure the film has had. Over at the official movie website we find the synopsis for the story:
Christmas has always been a exceptional time of love and tradition in the small town of Trapper Falls Alaska. Hometown of Mayor Dan Reed (Ted McGinley) looks forward to each year with enthusiasm to all the events, friends and family that fill this special season. Together with his brother Greg (Brad Stine) they dedicate time away from their adventure tour company to drape the town is [sic] Christmas cheer. When Dan’s old high school rival Mitch Bright (Daniel Baldwin) returns home after 20 years, Dan is immediately suspicious. Mitch is a highly successful big city lawyer who has never wanted anything to do with Trapper Falls or its people, so why now?
The rivalry re-ignites when Mitch takes offense to seeing the town’s flagrant violation of the constitution’s Establishment clause. Mitch wants the Nativity scene removed from the front of City hall and more importantly the word Christmas switched to Happy Holidays on all signs. Fifty years of tradition are now challenged not by an outsider but a former member of the community. As the conflict escalates it goes beyond one persons opinion but magnifies into an entire town problem when Mitch enters into the mayoral race to have Dan replaced.
In the heat of the legal battle and facing certain defeat, Dan’s wife Kristen (Nancy Stafford) and their daughter Makayla (Francesca Derosa) wanting to show the true meaning of Christmas are inspired to launch a “Christmas with a Capitol C” campaign as an effort to keep the town together. In doing so they discover the secret behind Mitch’s return but also reminds all of Trapper Falls that with the arrival of God’s Son, peace on earth and good will was to be given to all; even those whose heart seem closed to Him.
I have so got to find a copy and watch the whole thing just to verify that it’s as bad as it sounds from that plot description. Of course, the fact that the hyper-religious Daniel Baldwin is starring in it (as the evil atheist no less!) is already a pretty good sign it’s going to be terrible. It was originally supposed to be released straight-to-DVD this fall, but word has it they may delay it until 2011 in hopes of getting an actual theatrical release. Wouldn’t that be special?
Here’s the really interesting part. Apparently the movie is inspired by a song of the same name by a Christian pop group called GoFish Guys and it’s full of the sort of lyrics you’d expect from a song about the fictional War on Christmas:
Well I went to the coffee shop to get myself a mocha,
The lady at the counter said “Happy holidays”;
I said, “Thanks lady, I am pretty happy,
But there’s only one holiday that makes me feel that way.”
It’s called Christmas, what more can I say?
It’s about the birth of Christ
and you can’t take that away.
You can call it something else,
but that’s not what it will be.
It’s called Christmas with a capital “C.”
Woven between the lyrics are snippets of a comedy rant by Christian comic Brad Stine (who plays the hero’s brother in the movie) about how no one supposedly says “Merry Christmas” anymore. One of the more telling bits he says is “But nobody wants to say Christmas [inaudible] after Christmas. Why? I know why. You do too. It’s because it’s got “Christ” in it and after 2,000 years he’s still intimidating people. You see when a religious person says ‘I am the way’ people don’t want to hear it.”
Which, much like this trailer itself, shows us how Christians think we think as opposed to how we actually think. I can’t speak for all atheists, but I find it pretty difficult to be intimidated by something that doesn’t actually exist. I’m no more intimidated by the concept of God than I am the concept of the Bogeyman, but that will never sink in for the reality impaired.
Doubtless someone will claim I’m upset — which I’m not — about this movie because it reveals how atheists want to kick Christ out of Christmas, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I know some atheists who don’t celebrate the holiday at all and are annoyed by it, but the vast majority of atheists I know, and I’m one of them, celebrate the day right along with everyone else. We just leave out all the Jesus-was-born-on-this-day nonsense. The simple fact is that it’s as much a secular holiday as a religious one and has been for nearly a century and a half with the rise of commercialism and conspicuous consumption. It’s an excuse to give each other presents and who doesn’t love getting and giving presents? The retailers are certainly happy about it and work very hard to encourage as much participation as they can. On top of that, most of the rituals practiced have their roots in Pagan custom as much as Christian tradition and, while I may not be a believer in Pagan Gods either, they did have some fun customs which I enjoy partaking in. In fact I’ll go to a Pagan party over your average Christian party any day of the year. Some folks just know how to do it right.
And while it is true that many atheists will put up a fuss about a nativity scene on the lawn of City Hall (or other government building) the vast majority of us have absolutely no problems with one on the lawn of the downtown Church or in the window of a business or on your own front lawn. If a business wants to put up great big obnoxious signs saying Merry CHRISTmas that’s certainly within their rights, but if they want to go with Seasons Greetings or Happy Holidays then THAT’S FUCKING OK TOO. In fact, you Christians would really do your image a favor of you’d back off on insisting that everyone only use greetings which you approve of.
Face it. The holiday isn’t yours alone anymore. You don’t have to be happy about it, but you should acknowledge that what you think of as “Christmas” hasn’t had much to do with what it originally was for a very long time. The only reason it grew so massive in popularity is because a whole bunch of shit that had nothing to do with Christ got mixed into it. It’s an amalgamation of different faiths, myths, customs and traditions of which Christ’s birth is only a small part. It doesn’t matter how many times you claim candy canes were invented to symbolize Jesus (they weren’t) or that the 12 Days of Christmas is a coded reference to Christian concepts (it’s not) or whatever other popular piece of Christian revisionist history is making the rounds regarding this holiday, the truth remains that it’s a sloppy mess of secular, religious, and plain old myth making that happened to capture the attention of the masses.
And, honestly, it’s probably one of the best bits of Public Relations any religion could hope for. It makes a lot of people, Christian and otherwise, feel pretty damn good for at least a few days every year. Granted, it also stresses the fuck out of them for about three months, but when the day finally arrives it does seem to bring a little of that fabled good will towards all men that everyone — Christian, atheist, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. — would love to see realized in this world. Why would you fuck that up by being so obnoxiously shrill over what a store decides to use as a greeting on their seasonal sale signs? Or any of the other obnoxious things you do to try and force everyone else to celebrate the day the way you think it should be celebrated?
If you want to focus on the story of Christ’s birth and whatnot then, by all means, make that the focus of your celebration. Go ahead and knock yourself out! We won’t mind! But let the rest of us celebrate the season the way we see fit as well. Be happy that something you had a hand in creating seems to bring some joy to the world even if it’s not exactly the way you had intended it to bring it about.
Or you could continue to be obnoxious pricks about it like you have the past few years with movies like this one and continue to wonder why Christians have such a bad image among non-Christians.