It is the time of year when the holidays are officially upon us. Thanksgiving is still being digested, Black Friday turbo-charges the gift-buying activity, and the Hallmark Channel is ramping up its Christmas agitprop to near 24/7 levels of yuletide inundation.
Okay, that last part is not entirely accurate. Hallmark has actually been piping in these films for weeks already, and the visions of sugar plums are being displayed on no fewer than three networks this season. The network has not only capitalized on the holiday but audiences have responded. Many enjoy these cinematic snowflakes, including one editor here with a preference for hilariously bad films.
Ratings for these innocuous chestnuts are always growing, so Hallmark debuts more titles each year. But it does so at the expense of the soul of this nation, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Of Hallmark's record 24 original holiday movies this season, four of them have black leads. And that is down from last year https://t.co/7QeI62fFFh
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) November 27, 2019
The outrage as a result of this deeply trenchant report as been, at best, muted.
— Brian Rockwood (@brianrockwood) November 27, 2019
Can you give us a word count too? Please break it down by age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, hair color. Oh, and height.
— @PresidentShemp (@presidentshemp) November 27, 2019
Heartbreaking that so many Jewish people, atheists and Muslims have cable providers that only offer the Hallmark channel preventing them from enjoying alternate entertainment.
— Just Beat Ohio (@hokeisit) November 27, 2019
Now there are a number of reactions one could have with this assessment, some of which involve vulgarities. One could simply tell them to shut up and change the channel, or maybe encourage the BET Network to produce its own, or to simply lighten the hell up, but I will respond with something else — math.
THR says there are two dozen new titles from Hallmark this year, and that ”only” four of them have POC lead characters. That factors to over 16%. According to census figures, the population of blacks is around 12-15%.
So maybe you could say Hallmark is over-representing in its movies. Deeply problematic. And yet, that is not all that THR found so troubling about these Hallmark offerings. Get this — these Christmas movies do not feature other religious celebrations!
Missing from Hallmark’s festive roster? Any other religion in the title. That’s especially interesting given that Hallmark last year announced that it would be producing two Hanukkah movies in 2019 — Holiday Date (Dec. 14) and a Double Holiday (Dec. 22). Double Holiday is a romance between a woman who is Jewish, while Holiday Date features a Jewish guy pretending to be Mr. Christmas.
Yes, one thing we need in films based on the birth of Christ is more Jewish representation. But then Bill Abbot, the CEO of Crown Media, owner of the Hallmark Channels, explained the challenge as they see it.
So, if we were to look at Kwanzaa, for example, or other religions and how they celebrate the holidays it’s a little bit more difficult because we don’t look at Christmas from a religious point of view, it’s more a seasonal celebration. He then added — ”We always want to stay clear of religion or controversy.”
Well now, it certainly is looking as if The Hollywood Reporter has strayed even further from home than Buddy The Elf. The entertainment outlet is upset at a group of channels that has POC representation on par, and does not include other religions in the movies that are specifically made to not feature religion.
It all starts with a script AND the writer, @hallmarkchannel….
— Francisco Castro (@FKAFernando) November 27, 2019
Here are the cold facts. Ratings for the Hallmark Christmas movies have been consistently rising every year. It is why Crown Media produces dozens of new titles every season. Now should a company continue to follow a successful formula, or should it muck up the works by listening to a few cranks on social media how have clipboards with checklists and stopwatches to count speaking parts?
The Hollywood Reporter has already earned its lump of coal.