An analysis of the Hallmark Channel Christmas Love Stories,
Running down this year’s schedule of Christmas movie offeringsis likea tripintoan uncannyvalleyof shiny-teethed, blow-driedheteronormativewhiteness, with only a few token movies with characters of color. It’s like watching “The Stepford Wives,” but scarier, since the evil plot to replace normal people with robots is never actually revealed.
I suppose this is an attempt at humor. Perhaps they appear to be robots because they have not used the feminist script to mess up their lives. All real women have been assumed to have been captured by this script. And for extra virtue points, let us attack straight white people
None of this should be a surprise, because Hallmark movies, as cloying and saccharine as they are, constitute the platonic ideal of fascist propaganda.
I never suspected this. Let us find out more.
That is probably a startling statement to some. When most of us think about fascistically propagandistic movies, we think of the grotesque grandeur of Leni Riefenstahl’s films celebrating the Third Reich — grand, but cold sweeping shots of soldiers goose-stepping and flags waving, all meant to inspire awe and terror. But the reality is, even in Nazi Germany, the majority of movies approved by the Nazi minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, were escapist and feather-light,with a Hallmark movie-style emphasis on the importance of “normality.”
Every culture in the world, throughout all time, has striven for normality. It is what they do.
There’s plenty of reason that empty-headed kitsch fits neatly in the authoritarian worldview. It’s storytelling that imitates the gestures of emotion without actually engaging with real feeling. The Hallmark movie steers clear of the real passion or deeper emotion that tends to be the engine driving more artful fiction. Characters who have real feelings, after all, can prompt empathetic reactions in the audience, and empathy for others is the greatest single threat to the authoritarian mindset. And so schmaltz walks through the paces of “love” without touching on any of the messy but compelling realities of it.
These are feel-good stories. Many people have empathy for the characters in the feel-good stories, that makes the payoff even bigger when the Christmas Love blooms.
As for the messy and compelling realities, perhaps the reality would be less messy if modern women did not follow the feminist script.
Instead of characters driven by real feelings, therefore, the guiding hand of “normalcy” pulls the characters along through narratives — and unsurprisingly, that idea of “normalcy” doesn’t have a lot of room for the true diversity of American experiences.
I am not sure that it is “normalcy” that is the driving factor. Rather it probably is that a large group of women really like to watch these kinds of stories. Perhaps there is a reason that they do. Maybe they touch something inside about how they feel things should ideally be.
Hallmark movies, with their emphasis on returning home and the pleasures of the small, domestic life, also send a not-at-all subtle signal of disdain for cosmopolitanism and curiosity about the larger world, which is exactly the sort of attitude that helps breed the kind of defensive white nationalism that we see growing in strength in the Donald Trump era.
Well, she has me convinced. What we should do is have stories about career women who may or may not have any men in their lives, ones that come home to an apartment full of cats. Probably there is an untapped market there. This is after all, the path advocated by feminists. It is the dominant path. Is there anyone out there willing to invest?