Despite what every Christmas song and movie tells you, we all know what an American Christmas is all about: money. People spending money and richer people earning it. That's why "Jingle All the Way" is the most entertaining Christmas movie ever made: its all about trying to buy a dumb toy. (Ok, Arnold punching a reindeer in the nose also helps it earn that title.) So with Christmas almost here, why not set your desktop to a picture of an open fire, start up your Holiday iTunes playlist and enjoy this list of holiday leeches and their attempts to turn Christmas joy into revenue. And also a cheap joke about rednecks.
6. Made for TV Movies
December TV airtime isn't just reserved for continuous play of A Christmas Story and Rudolph, or even that exciting channel that only plays footage of a Yule log burning. (Don't anyone tell me what happens on Yule log TV this year. I'm just catching up with the 2006 log on DVD.) In fact, it's the time of year where you'll find the most original movies popping up on cable. And maybe 10% of them actually have to do with Christmas. The rest all feel like shelved projects that nobody would green light until an arbitrary connection to the holiday season was made. Got a romantic comedy, family drama or feel good movie about someone turning their life around that you can't get into production? Throw some Christmas lights on the houses, snow on the ground and have the climax fall on Christmas Eve. Lifetime or the Hallmark Channel will surely play it.
5. The Nativity
2006 saw the latest release of a movie with the nativity as the plotline, and the movie can be summed up in one word: predictable. Who needs to watch a movie of the story of Jesus' birth anymore? Talk about overdone. Everyone and their mother (virgin or otherwise) knows the story of Jesus being born in a manger. Songs, TV specials, movies, books and even live re-enactments exist to document the tale, but new retellings (that are essentially exactly the same) pop up every year because they know there's money to be made off dedicated Christians. You know how many times your parents tell you the story of your own birth? Imagine being poor Jesus. He's got to be sick to death and resurrection of it.
4. The Santa Clause 3
There are a lot of bad Christmas movies out there, but this one is perhaps the worst. The original "The Santa Clause" with Tim Allen may not be a cinematic masterpiece, but it was a fun Christmas movie with a fairly original plot. The sequel threw everything clever out the window and turned into a movie that would embarrass the makers of "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians." But despite Tim Allen's wooden acting (he literally plays a magical wooden version of Santa for part of the movie) the movie made money, so of course the final act in this quickly degrading trilogy was created. They even managed to find the one element missing to make it the most annoying Christmas movie ever: Martin Short hamming it up, as only he can, as Jack Frost. It takes a movie like this to make "Wild Hogs" seem like a step up in Tim's career.
3. Holiday Novelty Items
We all have those people in our lives that are hard to shop for, but surely you can find something better than a Santa Claus that blows bubbles out of his ass. Even your wacky uncle is going to throw that Santa in a leather jacket that dances to "Born to be Wild" into a dark closet the night you give it to him. Terry in the cubicle next to your's is going to cringe every day when she is forced to look at that candy pooping reindeer she begrudgingly keeps on her desk because you gave it to her. And there is no holiday novelty item quite as shameful as the antlers and red nose for your car. The only appropriate use for that item would be a forced indication that the driver is a convicted sex offender and to keep your children away from the Mini Cooper. But companies know that everyone has a gift exchange to go to or a relative they don't really like, so these babies fly off the shelves.
2. The Star Wars Christmas Special and Album
There was a brief period of time when George Lucas knew that Star Wars could be the most bankable thing on the planet, but he hadn't quite figured out the roads to go down that would earn money and retain dignity. Thanks to this misguided naivety we got two separate, but equally terrible/hilarious, Star Wars Christmas tie-ins. First came the Star Wars Holiday Special, a live action TV special that featured the original cast and some special guests like Bea Arthur celebrating "Life Day." But don't be fooled by that star power, because this special is more torturous than the Sarlaac Pit. After the first five or ten minutes, as the Wookies speak only in growls and howls without any subtitles to explain what's going on, you begin to question your own sanity. George Lucas has said that he wishes he could find every bootleg and burn them in a pile to rid the world of it, but the special could prove quite useful for "interrogation" at Abu Ghraib. Shortly after, in 1980, Lucas allowed another yuletide bomb to hit the galaxy: the original holiday record Christmas in the Stars. With C-3PO singing and R2-D2 whistling along to songs as good as "What Can You Get a Wookie for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb)," it's not hard to see why even Lucas doesn't have this playing at the company Christmas parties. The one positive: a young Jon Bon Jovi sings on a song, officially making it his best album.
1. Larry the Cable Guy's "Christmastime in Larryland"
Yes, the worst member of the Four Horsemen of the Comedy Apocalypse (also known as The Blue Collar Comedy Tour) produced not only another Christmas album (he already made the not so cleverly titled "A Very Larry Christmas") but also a Christmas TV special this year. Now if you think the idea of Larry the Cable Guy farting "Jingle Bells" is a side-splitting form of entertainment, then you're in luck. Because that's actually on the album. Right alongside a parody of "The Night Before Christmas" called "Liberal Commie Environmental Poem," which really sticks it to those lefties that care about the environment and equality and other "queer" stuff like that. The entire being of Larry is a money making entity, mocking the very people that love him and getting them to pay for it, so of course he has Christmas albums. Larry knows that his fan base will wet their "Git-R-Done" undies in excitement over Christmas specials and albums. It's even a perfect gift for your wife or sister. Lucky you Larry fans, you only have to buy one!