Christmas. The Godfather of Holidays. It has its own music. It has its own economy. It has its own cast of characters. And it has its own movies. They are, of course, unavoidably ubiquitous. Strangely enough, even if you’re completely sick of them, you end up watching at least a couple during the month of December. It just happens. You see the listing on your menu and, before you can stop yourself, you select it.
Undoubtedly, your brain is responding to a “cookie” the season itself lodged in your hard drive many years ago. A cookie that says, “Ooh, ooh, watch this. It will bring back nostalgic feelings of a simpler, gentler time before you experienced divorce, acid reflux and Survivor: Fire Island.”
So it came to be that I found myself watching, for the first time in years, Miracle on 34th Street. This time around, the film didn’t strike me as adorable, although Natalie Wood is still the living definition of the word. It struck me, instead, as completely insidious and sinister, if not downright evil!
Hear me out. In this movie, you’ve got a kid who is being taught by her mother that there is no such thing as Santa Claus, that all that Santa jazz is a bunch of baloney. In other words, you’ve got a kid who has her head on straight, with a three- to four-year head start on all the other twerps when it comes to dealing with reality. But, in the world of Miracle, this is a most unfortunate development, one that’s in need of quick correction. “What a shame,” we in the audience are shamelessly tweaked to think, “that this darling little girl is not allowed to be a part of the Yuletide Yank. That she is deprived by her stodgy mother of living in that twinkly fog of Kringloid bullshit that has seduced all the other little darlings.”
Therefore, the goal of the movie is to find a charming way to bring this little sprite back into the Jonestown of Christmas, to get her to drink the green and red Kool-Aid to make sure that she, like all the other kids in the cult, will once again confuse myth with reality, buy whole hog into the Santa scene, and not ask a bunch of snoopy questions, for she must not learn that she’s being duped and jerked off by all the adults at this young age. No, that truth must come later, years later, when the chance for psychological trauma brought on by this gut-wrenching revelation is much stronger, much more assured. It could well be that the first day a child ever really tastes his or her own bile is the day he or she hears the truth about Santa Claus!
Well, that’s one way to spin Miracle, anyway. Take that, Leonard Maltin!