‘Bad Santa’? Bad Movie

Too many Christmas films have been corrupted by a coarse culture

There’s a dilemma that faces any content creator when it comes to iconic holidays like Christmas. If material is always earnest and respectful, innovation can be stifled, and content that celebrates the importance of the day is often easily dismissed.

However, if creators go too far in the other direction, the importance of the day (and the season) can be sullied and insulted.

Why is Hollywood dragging out multiple films this season with elements unfriendly to families?

Given Hollywood’s predilection to murder sacred cows and spread their innards everywhere, this is unsurprising.

Stories require conflict. Today’s audiences, especially kids, demand that execution of those stories be accomplished in innovative ways. Yet the slate of films on deck for this holiday season seems to be pushing the envelope in the wrong direction.

Back in 2003, a comedy called “Bad Santa” starring Billy Bob Thornton was released. Thornton played a department store Santa that was a criminal, suicidal, profane, unkempt, drunk, and a sexual predator. The film was appropriately rated “R.” Tellingly, the film only grossed $60 million domestically on a $23 million budget. It did poorly overseas, generating about $16.5 million.

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According to BoxOfficeMojo.com, “Bad Santa” ranks #18 in box office for Christmas films. Every other one above it is rated PG-13, PG, or G. Most are truly family films.

Which raises the question — why is Hollywood dragging out multiple films this season that are replete with elements unfriendly to families — including “Bad Santa 2”? These include films with sexual innuendo, profanity, and cheap humor directed at the nativity and Jesus.

What happened to the wonder and joy of storytelling that evokes the themes of family, friends and faith, as found in the classic Frank Capra film, “It’s a Wonderful Life”? It was made in 1946 but, as we all know, its themes are timeless.

[lz_bulleted_list title=”Christmas Movies 2016″]”Almost Christmas” — about a dysfunctional family, playing now|”Bad Santa 2″ — about a drunk store Santa, Nov. 23|”Office Christmas Party” — about a raunchy holiday bash, Dec. 9|”Why Him?” — about the rivalry between a dad and her rich daughter’s boyfriend, Dec. 23[/lz_bulleted_list]

One can make the free market argument about Hollywood’s coarsening of Christmas films — that there exists enough of an audience for this material to generate a profit. Yet the evidence exists already that truly family friendly films are far more profitable. The lifetime gross of the top 10 Christmas films is over $1.7 billion. The next 10 films total a mere third of that amount, as more “R” rated films appear in that set.

The other reason for producing these films is obvious. Hollywood just can’t stomach the religious and spiritual elements of Christmas. Studios and producers are such lousy fiduciaries that they put ideology ahead of good business practice.

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