There’s been quite a bit of #NerdRage surrounding Die Hard. Specifically, people are upset that Katie Notopoulos pointed out that saying Die Hard is your favorite Christmas movie is both a bit smug (we get it, you’re special and way too cool to say, I dunno, A Christmas Story) and also factually inaccurate. Because, folks, it’s not a Christmas movie.
Apparently this is a controversial position. When Matt Lewis made this point, he was vociferously denounced for his thrice-cursed act of treachery. When I said the same on Twitter, the hordes, led by Sean Hackbarth and Erick Erickson, swarmed. But guys. Seriously. It’s not a “Christmas Movie.”
Yes, Die Hard is set during Christmas (at an office holiday party, no less). Yes, there are some accoutrements of Christmas, Santa Claus outfits and the like, that pop up during the film. Yes, at some point someone says “ho ho ho.” But that doesn’t mean that it fits into the genre of “Christmas Movie.” A Christmas Movie is a movie that is specifically about Christmas: A Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, etc. These are all Christmas Movies. They are movies that are not only set during Christmas but also are actively about Christmas.
Saying Die Hard is a Christmas Movie is like saying Die Hard With a Vengeance is a Revenge Film. Yes, Die Hard With a Vengeance stars a character that is trying to get revenge, kinda. But it is not a “Revenge Film.” The connotations are all wrong. And the connotations are the important thing in this situation. When you’re talking about genres of film, connotations matter. For instance, if you called Argo an “Iranian Film,” anyone who knows what they’re talking about would look at you askance. The phrase “Iranian Film” means a film made by the burgeoning collective of impressive Iranian filmmakers.
Die Hard‘s a great movie. It is, arguably, the greatest action movie of all time. But it’s not a great Christmas Movie. Let’s stop pretending it is.
(For the record, the best Christmas Movie is either A Christmas Story or Scrooged. I’m not sure which.)