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Entertainment & Media

The Holiday Season and Representation

By Alain Deen

Volume 3 Issue 2

December 23, 2022

The Holiday Season and Representation

Image provided by Elaine Ching

The modern holiday season occurs during the months of November through early January. Most notably, the holiday season encompasses Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Thanksgiving. It is also associated with a rigid increase in shopping, sales, and marketing. Furthermore, the holiday season has faced immense commercialization throughout the years, with industries developing a stark desire for profit. The film and media industry are primary culprits of this concept, often prioritizing profit margin in contrast to producing films which appeal to a variety of audiences, especially in the United States. This is ironic, especially considering the diverse populace of modern United States. With various races, ethnicities, and religions inhabiting the United States, it is utterly crucial to adhere to the representation and portrayal of minorities within these groups 

In a 2018 Variety article, the Motion Picture Association of America conducted a study to identify the spread of racial demographics in terms of movie-going. The MPPA’s report highlighted that Latinos, which represent about 18% of the U.S population, composed 24% of consistent moviegoers. Additionally, Asians fall not too far behind, accounting for 8% of frequent moviegoers. It is worth noting that Asians represent only 6% of the U.S population, as well. Caucasians, comprising 61% of the U.S population, amounted to 54% of consistent moviegoers. The study also demonstrated the ever-growing popularity of film culture among minority audiences across the United States, with the number of frequent African American moviegoers doubling to 5.6 million in contrast to the year prior. Of particular interest, film culture is only expanding across marginalized audiences within the United States, as the film industry begins to implement representational techniques in writing, casting, and directing to efficiently entertain the U.S populace. Therefore, there seems to be an increasing need for the film industry to represent and depict stories regarding the lesser-known holidays of the holiday season.  

To properly evaluate the necessity of representational films regarding minority-based holidays, it is best to analyze specific examples and determine their ineffectiveness in providing audiences with memorable content and even nostalgia. Specifically, seasonal films most often involve Christmas with subtle Hanukkah sublots to ensure a sense of “inclusivity.” However, to actually represent and appeal to the Jewish population, it is crucial to include the cultural values of Hanukkah itself. When most people think of Jewish holiday films, their minds might drift to Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights. In short, the film involves Davey Stone, a 33-year-old party animal who finds himself in trouble with the law. For one last chance at redemption, the judge allows Davey to the spend the holiday season performing community service as an assistant referee for a local youth basketball league, or else he heads to jail. With a severely underwhelming IMDB rating of 5.3/10, Eight Crazy Nights proves to be a massive flop for Jewish audiences across the nation. Rotten Tomatoes reviews are no help either, with critics calling the film distasteful, stereotypical, unwatchable, and offensive. This is a prime example of the necessity of the film industry to develop rich, authentic, stories regarding Hanukkah, effectively and sensitively representing the Jewish population.  

A similar sentiment is present with Kwanzaa, as about 12.5 million people in the United States celebrate the holiday. It is crucial to represent cultures of all kinds, especially through the medium of film. Most modern films regarding Kwanzaa are documentaries, namely The Black Candle (2008). Even so, the film yielded an underwhelming 6.6/10 rating on IMDB. It is also worth noting that I could not find any fictional films with Kwanzaa-related themes, plots, or even sublots, demonstrating the sheer need for films regarding the lesser-represented holidays of the holiday season.  

Overall, the lack of representational holiday films demonstrates the ever-growing need for compelling, rich, and nuanced stories to be told through a holiday-oriented lens. However, it is not too late. Film culture is always growing among “minority” audiences in the United States. Therefore, young filmmakers, writers, and creatives alike may join forces to create a new, diverse era of holiday classics.  

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