Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Problem With The Christmas Project

Get ready for a rant.

So I keep seeing commercials for the latest LDS Christmas movie The Christmas Project. For those who don't obsessively watch TV, here's a rundown of the plot as gathered from the commercials: There's a kid who's bullied at school and his family randomly decides to do a secret Santa project for his bullies family, who apparently live in a literal shack. The kid goes onto say how he learns that even the bully isn't as bad as he seemed as he sees the bully helping his little sister try on some gloves.

Here's my problem:

Sweet Christmas stories aren't supposed to be cinematic masterpieces, or even reflect reality in any way. However, I have a major problem with the idea that the victim of bullying is the one who needs to learn a lesson about accepting others through his bully and that that's somehow the solution to the kid's bullying problem. In no other crime (Yes, I say crime, because if these kids were adults then the kid would be well within his rights to press charges against his bully) is the victim expected to sympathize with their attacker. If we had a movie about a shopkeeper who is robbed at gunpoint, then the shopkeeper isn't going to track down the criminal, find out he was trying to feed his family and give him $50. As sweet as that concept is, the problem is that the guy was an armed gunman in the first place.

Bullying is a serious problem that's been addressed in media for decades. However, it's almost always addressed from the point of view of the victim, and the bully is usually an undereducated poverty stricken villain who is incapable of changing, leaving it on the Erkles and the Bart Simpsons of the world to find ways to deal with him in increasingly creative ways. While this certainly has entertainment value, it's still offensive to put solving the problem of bullying solely on the victim instead of addressing the real causes of bullying.

I have an idea:

The concept of this film isn't bad, after all if you truly want to learn to love someone else then service is the best way to do it, however I think the lesson needs to be learned by the bully and his family instead of the victims. So here's my rewrite:

We'll write it from the point of view of the bully. We'll keep it family and Seagull Book friendly, that's not a problem. So the bully, we'll name him Tommy, has this dad who is a high school basketball coach who's extremely competitive and has one of those strict traditional views of masculinity, basically if you're not into sports you're a wuss and a loser. He says this to his family constantly even pressuring Tommy into being an athlete. In Tommy's class we have Sam. Sam is your average geek, reading comic books, playing video games ect., basically the opposite of how Tommy has viewed what a boy should be. Tommy bullies Sam relentlessly. One day in early December Tommy's dad's team suffers a massive loss and his dad is furious, calling the other team geeks and losers. He doesn't abuse Tommy, but it is obvious he is angry about the loss. The next day Tommy goes to school and sees Sam do something that sets him off so he starts bullying Sam again. The situation escalates and either through violence or due to a relatively innocent accident Tommy seriously injures Sam. Tommy's parents are immediately called to the school and when questioned about why Tommy would hurt Sam, Tommy starts repeating the rhetoric he's heard at home from his dad. His dad, completely horrified that his own prejudices have lead to his son becoming a bully and injuring another student, decides to do something about it: He decides to secret Santa Sam's family. The rest of the movie is about Tommy and his father learning to accept those who are different than them as they serve Sam's family.

Okay, so my movie idea isn't exactly It's a Wonderful Life, but if we're going to write a Christmas movie about bullying let's make sure the right person learns the lesson about acceptance and the right person gets served. You wouldn't have Bob Cratchett show up on Scrooge's doorstep with his sad Christmas goose and Tiny Tim holding his laundry, so let's not have anymore kids try to show up to their bullies with the offering of friendship only to end up with a black eye.