Holiday movies incorporate the same elements as their regular counterparts. Dramatic choices. Love connections. Hilarious punchlines. Rewatch a few December classics, and you might notice a theme: some critical characters are living with visual impairments. Let’s take a closer look.
Movie: A Christmas Story
Character: Flick? No, when his tongue sticks to the flag pole, those are goggles on his aviator cap. Faked you out. It’s Ralphie Parker.
Pivotal scene: Walking alone, Ralphie takes a snowball to the face. The icy mix thrown by the neighborhood bully cakes his glasses. Ralphie’s had enough of this twerp. I can’t condone violence, but I understand the frustration and desire to act while emotional. The nearsighted boy drops his glasses and tackles the bully. Ralphie sits on him, yelling and slapping wildly, mittens-on-a- string flying around with each hit. A true blind rage. His little brother carefully retrieves the forgotten glasses and runs for help. I gotta say, those abandoned glasses, symbolic of reason and order, make the scene.
Scene: Buddy shares a nice dinner with his newfound family. He explains the elfin food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup. He sees sweets and can’t say no. But, his rocking blood glucose levels from his poor diet puts him at risk for diabetes and its consequences. If he doesn’t act fast, he’s going to be finding elegant gifts and diabetic retinopathy under the tree. Yikes.
Movie: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Character: Clark Griswold
Scene: No, it’s not the famous scene of him rigging up the Christmas lights, stapling line after line to cover his entire house, then causing temporary blindness in his neighbors when the lights shine with an intense glare. He’s unaffected. How about when he changes lanes on the highway? He may be distracted by aggressive hillbillies in the pick-up truck, but who can’t see a semi in the mirrors? Clark’s sweet blind spot leads to a ridiculous roadway moment. The family’s station wagon dips under a logging truck–right between its massive tires–escaping only with a quick flick of the steering wheel, and then another jerk of the wheel to avoid a snow plow. Remember, the journey culminating with the car sailing off-road over a snow bank is made possible by Clark’s loss of acuity. Before he does more damage, get this man to an eye doctor.
Movie: The Year Without a Santa Claus
Character: Santa Claus
Scene: It’s more than a scene. It’s the hidden catalyst of the movie. Santa’s not going on vacation; he’s taking time to cope with vision loss. Multiple pieces of evidence make the argument for Santa’s visual impairment. First, he sports spectacles on Christmas Eve morning. But we already covered nearsightedness with Ralphie, so it’s not that. Second, Santa isn’t producing in his workshop, it’s all the elves all the time making those fine toys. Finally, reindeer power the sled which is led by a retina-friendly red light, not Santa. Ho, ho, on no. After years at the North Pole absorbing sunlight reflected off the snow without eye protection, it was only a matter of time. Macular degeneration caught up with Father Christmas. I rest my case.
Movie: Home Alone
Character: Little Nero’s pizza delivery guy
Scene: Alright. Anytime this dude arrives at the stately McAllister residence, he seems to be in a hurry. So much so, his bumper knocks over a metal statue out front. Clank, thud. Decades before driving while texting existed, this guy reps distracted driving. Or is it something more? I don’t think he’s a teenager taking advantage of his first set of wheels on the open, icy suburban Chicago streets. What we’ve got here is a depth perception problem with possible night blindness. Early stage retinitis pigmentosa, anyone? I think so.
On that silly note, what are your favorite holiday movies? Is there a character who always makes you laugh or you can’t forget? What movie do you watch this time of year to escape the holiday rush? Tell me about it.