Christianity Jumps The Shark

Now, this video just leaves me confused. I mean, who am I supposed to be rooting for, exactly? It’s so unclear.

First there’s Daniel Baldwin (black coat, Christmas-hater running for mayor). Admittedly, he’s looking pretty puffy and waxen — like he’s only doing this between reality-show gigs so he can pay for another cocaine bender — but up until lately he’s always been the coolest of the Baldwins. No, seriously. He was Beau Felton on Homicide and, as if that’s not enough, Tony Montoya in Vampires. How can you not love the guy and want to see him triumph over the Christian hordes with all their threatening nativity scenes and cable-knit sweaters?

But then we have Ted McGinley. I think this might be the first time a Christian film has hired a bona-fide saint to star (McGinley, as you all know, having been declared the patron saint of shark-jumping by none other than Jumptheshark.com founder Jon Hein). I’ve always had a soft spot for Ted even though his appearance on a show is usually a sign that it’s made the shift from benign entertainment into full-on cornball spectacle. First, he was replacement Ritchie on Happy Days then he was replacement Marci’s husband on Married… with Children. Here he seems to be replacement Kirk Cameron in your Average God-Fearing Joe Versus Secular Scourge film du jour, holiday Christmas version.

And that should set off warning bells for Christians everywhere. If Ted McGinley is the guy you’ve picked as your latest Everyman, it’s a clear sign the whole evangelical movement has started a long, inexorable slide towards an ignoble and fairly embarrassing cancellation.

So, yeah, clearly that makes me love Ted even more.

Ultimately what it comes down to is that kitchen. Ted and his fictional family have this folksy, suburban, dark oak thing going on and that is something I just cannot abide.

Go team Baldwin!

Author: Paul Dechene

Paul Dechene is 5’10” tall and he was born in a place. He’s not there now. He’s sitting in front of his computer writing his bio for this blog. He has a song stuck in his head. It’s “Girl From Ipanema”, thanks for asking.

You can follow Paul on Twitter at @pauldechene and get live updates during city council meetings and other city events at @PDcityhall.

30 thoughts on “Christianity Jumps The Shark”

  1. I can’t even handle that this movie has been made, and await the ensuing moral panic about how inclusive and non-denominational celebrations are evil thus ruining a time of sharing and goodwill for everyone.

  2. It’s straight to video, sure, but don’t underestimate the size of the audience for this flick. Why, I’ll wager more people will see this than the latest Steven Seagal and Wesley Snipes straight-to-video movies combined.

  3. I thought we were over this “War on Christmas” bullcrap, and didn’t realize it had ever amounted to anything beyond slow news day fodder for the John Gormley’s of the world, ie bullshit artists with no souls.

  4. At least the bullshit artists can parlay these ripped-from-talk-radio stories into screenwriting careers. (Lucky bastards.)

    Actually, I’m working on a treatment based on the Moose Jaw seance controversy. I’m thinking it’ll make for good evangelical, alternative-Halloween fare. Working title is “Hell Museum.” What do you think? Too pretentious?

  5. I’m torn between despising the “war on Christmas” nonsense and the fact I really, really, REALLY loved this trailer. Perhaps not in the intended manner, but still. It fomented delight in my tummy.

    I also, it should be noted, adore Jack Chick comic tracts. And those things are pure evil.

  6. paul, i think PD should offer a prize to the most fantastical possible ending to this story

    since it’s in Alaska, will *newly-elected* President Palin zoom in on a snowmobile like a gladiator, with the US National Guard behind her hoisting Merry Xmas signs?

    will Barbara Streisand and other Hollywood elites fly in for a concert and media event, but is picketed by honest local townsfolk who just want to have their Xmas back, from the clutches of the elites.

    will Shell or BP fly in with a cabal of suits bearing Christmas gifts to the locals, and ask them to sign away their little bay for some SUVs, a Costco and a Chapter, in exchange an oil lease?

    will Gary Bettman fly in, bringing Xmas signs in and a media throng to witness his announcement that “In Trapper Falls Alaska, Xmas will go on forever, and this will also be the new home of the Phoenix Coyotes!”

    will Sigourney Weaver stroll on one of her alien-fighting exoskeletons, and as they pull down the Season Gree5tings signs, issue a warning “Get away away from that sign, you butch!”

    will Steven “the Put-down King” Whitworth stroll into Trapper Falls, and call everyone pro-Xmas a bunch of douchebags, and they all fall down?

  7. will the Ted McGinley character really be harry potter, and the Baldwin fella be a dementor – they have a duel over some frozen waterway, and McGinley protecting the townsfolk and chanting “expecto petronum”

  8. Barb – It’s the overall sentiment of movies like this that irritate me, whether they are straight to video or on a big screen is beside the point.

    I love Christmas movies: movies about the Christmas spirit, and family, and love, and candy…lots of candy. I don’t love movies that make people feel issues like this are more contentious or threatening than they really are.

    Most municipalities are great at supporting different holiday traditions and encourage overall good cheer. But I’d wager there will still be lots of news reports that act like being inclusive over the holidays is a slap in the face, and that people should get overly defensive.

    This just seems like one more example of people promoting an overall culture of fear in North America. Can’t we all just get along?

  9. Laura: with all due respect, you have implied 2 things that invite argument:
    1) that this movie shouldn’t have been made because you disagree with it or find it irritating/inflammatory, and
    2) that nativity scenes or other illustrations of the origin of Christmas are somehow exclusive.
    Whatever happened to “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”? And why can everyone celebrate St. Patrick’s Day without insisting that the “St.” be dropped, or celebrate Halloween without renaming it to expunge the association with All Saints Day, and yet cavil at the celebration of Christ at Christmas? It’s illogical.

  10. Barb – I think you may have missed my point entirely.

    I didn’t say that the movie shouldn’t have been made. I’m saying that I don’t appreciate movies, or tv reports, or sitcoms, or newspaper articles, or anything else that give the impression that things are more contentious or threatening than they really are. In this instance it is the question about “The War on Christmas”.

    Which brings me to your second statement – I didn’t say Christmas or it’s symbols were exclusive. Many people share in each other’s customs over the holidays and that is great. I also didn’t insinuate that people don’t have the right to believe what they want (in my view as long as you don’t hurt anyone you are doing fine) – that is not at issue here.

    Again, this is just one manifestation of creating fear and divisiveness in society by hyping a non-issue. These situations exist in many cultures with many religions and beliefs behind them – it’s not just a Christian or Christmas thing.

  11. Thanks for your response, Laura, but I think you may have missed my point. I picked up on your implications in post #1, which are pretty clear, on a first and on susuquent readings.
    As to your characterization that controversy over Christmas is a non-issue, that is your opinion, and Emmet’s, but it is dismissive and disrespectful of other people’s.

  12. Jeff! I love Christmas! You’re ahead of the curve on contest ideas. Also, I have no prize budget. Maybe next year.

  13. I like Christians, I know a lot of Christians who have done very good and needed work in the name of their faith. Christians have often been the first in their communities to extend a helping hand when a crisis hits. In the 20th Century Christians had a tremendously positive impact on the Civil Rights movement and social justice movements in general.
    That said, your ridiculous whinging about the erosion of Christianity in North America has got to end.
    Nobody, anywhere, in North America is trying to take your personal right to wish anybody a “Merry Christmas”.
    Businesses began the “Season’s Greetings” tradition because they did not want to alienate their non-Christian customers. Big government, the gay agenda, Islam and Youtube had nothing to do with it. It was the invisible hand of the free market.

    Propaganda films such as this serve no other purpose than to frighten people and take away their power to come together as a society, regardless of faith.

  14. Barb – I’m sorry if you read it that way.

    I don’t deny that there are people who outwardly bash the Christian meaning of Christmas (and I don’t appreciate that either), just as there are people who bash other religions and customs or make it seem less Western to recognize them. It is all just people getting weird and defensive. There are assholes in every group.

    I’d like to think that we can all back up and celebrate in our own ways without encouraging conflict over supposedly happy occasions.

  15. Emmet, I thought you were a better and more discerning reader; obviously a mistake. Your response also indicates that you don’t know how to argue without losing your temper. Sad, really.
    Laura: gracious reply; thank you.

  16. Wow! Nothing sets off a war in Prairie Dogland like good ole fashioned Christian baiting!

    Well done, Paul.

  17. Whaaaat? Moi? Did you read the original post? That wasn’t Christian baiting. Clearly what I was doing was Ted McGinley bashing.

    Yeesh.

    Okay… maybe it was the post title that got your back up? But come on. It’s Ted McKinley! In one of these hamfisted, ridiculous, straight-to-video, John Birch propaganda films. Of course I’m going to make a crack about Christianity jumping the shark.

    The title wrote itself.

    Seriously, Seanbot… what did you want me to do? I got handed all that — and a puffy Daniel Baldwin to boot — and I’m supposed to what? Leave the trailer off the blog because it might offend someone?

    Couldn’t do it. The thing is a comedy goldmine.

  18. Hi Barb! You’ve written several things that invite argument. It is late so I will only have time to engage you on three:

    1) Comparing attitudes towards St. Patrick’s Day and Christmas is not a fair comparison. Christ is a solemn figure. His birthday marks the beginning of a pretty bleak story arc. On the other hand, Saint Patrick, as we all know, is a wee drunken leprechaun with a red beard, a green suit and bowler hat who has his fists up ready to get into a scuffle. We celebrate his feast day by drinking heavily, dyeing all of our food and putting on terrible Irish accents. No one wants to drop the “Saint” from the name because we’re just using it ironically. “Saint” Patrick isn’t a saint at all. He is in fact a bit of a lecher and has been known to use his small stature to peer up ladies’ frocks.

    2) Even if anyone here had said they think Christmas With A Capital ‘C’ shouldn’t have been made (and no one, as yet, has), I don’t think you can read into a statement like that a desire to infringe upon anyone’s freedom of speech. (And I certainly think that in the discussion of a film of Christmas With A Capital ‘C’‘s quality, there’s no need to roll out the “I disagree with what you say, but…” speech.)

    Making statements like “Movie X should never have been made” is an often used and thoroughly accepted part of cinema discourse.

    In fact, I can think of many films that I will proudly state should never have been made. The Phantom Menace and its two sequels, for instance. Now, just because I say that doesn’t mean I think every print of those movies should be destroyed and George Lucas locked away before he can further defile my childhood. I may want those things to happen, sure. But I don’t think they would be possible or even advisable so I write hyperbolic vitriol about his films on the internet instead under pseudonyms such as HanShotFirst6882, LeaveSWtehfckAlone3 and LucasYouPrick2937.

    3) You seem to chafe at any suggestion that this controversy over Christmas is a non-issue (Barb 13 and 15), and yet you’ve made no arguments to show that it is one. In fact at present, the only evidence on the table to suggest that there is a concerted effort being made to erase the “Christ” in “Christmas” is that which is on display in the trailer to Christmas With A Capital ‘C’. As such, I think a certain tone of dismissiveness is warranted. It does star Ted McKinley, after all.

  19. Emmet: Who has not wit must bluster.
    Paul: Point #1 is not in agreement with what the Irish think. As to Point #2, certainly the trailer for this film, and the all-star cast (sarcasm) would lead one to think it’s dreck. Remember, though, that serious literati, almost without exception, thought that Radclyffe Hall’s novel, The Well of Loneliness was also dreck, but they rallied to its defence at its obscenity trial. There’s a difference between a film/book that you dislike on grounds of taste, and that which you dislike for political reasons. One person’s propaganda is another person’s truth…no matter how inconvenient. Point #3 ignores the fact that bans on public displays of nativity scenes have occurred in the past 15 – 20 years, especially in the eastern US. Frankly, there’s an episode of Picket Fences that handles the issue better than I think this movie might.
    Gotta go shovel snow and volunteer at a preschool. Have a nice day.

  20. I hate to come back into this discussion (which has also jumped the shark), but Barb I’m wondering if you can clarify. When you say “public displays of nativity scenes” do you mean that the displays were on state/public land (i.e. at a City Hall or public school) or on private property that is visible to the public? My basic understanding of the issue is the presentation of religious symbols on public land is not acceptable. I don’t think anyone cares whether a citizen puts a nativity scene on their front lawn, or on church property (or for those that do, they should get over it).

  21. Barb, if you have something specific to address in my comments please do so. If you’re going to continue making personal insults against me, I do have my own blog that could use the traffic.

  22. Jeff: Dechene’s getting that press kit tomorrow. He’s going to write something about it at some point. So it’s not going to be a prize.

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