Look, I know you get tired of hearing about it, but it’s true — it happens earlier and earlier, every single year. Why, it’s not even Labor Day yet, we’re still wearing age-inappropriate short pants, the kids are barely back in school, and already, four months before the big day… it’s time to start complaining about the War on Christmas. Can we just get put away the “Halloween is a Satanist celebration” protest signs first? Where are our priorities in this hopelessly paranoid, Christian conservative nation? Anyway, Kirk Cameron — remember him? The Growing Pains heartthrob whose warm, dreamy smile filled a thousand issues of Tiger Beat and as many late-‘80s junior high lockers, before he started railing about evolution and bananas and how gays are destroying civilization, and everyone sort of backed away from him slowly, like some kind of ranting, drooling homeless guy on the subway? Anyhoo, he’s made a fairly good living from the “faith-based” entertainment industry, so this week, he sat down with Glenn Beck’s The Blaze website, which in turn shared the trailer to his latest cinematic opus, Saving Christmas.
Here is said trailer. Don’t say we didn’t warn you:
What’s most striking about the Saving Christmas trailer is how much it plays like a parody trailer for a “faith-based” movie: the gaudy look, the sledgehammer-subtle messaging, and the rote recitation of Fox News “War on Christmas” talking points. Cameron’s narration actually includes the phrases “Let’s put ‘Christ’ back into Christmas” and “Do you ever feel like Christmas… has been hijacked?” (Um no, not really!) And, yes, Cameron raises the single issue that gets the righteous Christian blood boiling more than any other — semantics. Fear not, Cameron will take to movie screens to take down “those that want to replace ‘Merry Christmas’ with ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Seasons Greetings,’ whatever that means.” Because fuck you if you’re Jewish or Muslim or not a Christian according to the specific, narrow definition of a has-been ‘80s TV heartthrob, am I right?
“It’s a scripted story about a guy named Christian White who represents the typical white Christian male and he’s got a bad case of religious bah humbugs,” Cameron told The Blaze of this film, and yes, he actually named the guy Christian White. (Presumably, the character’s middle name is “Straight.”) “[White] is just deflating his wife’s entire Christmas party because he has come to believe that everything we’re doing at Christmas to celebrate is wrong,” Cameron explained. Gee, that kinda sounds like a white Christan male actor making an entire movie about how the rest of us are celebrating Christmas wrong, but I digress.
“Christmas is probably my favorite time of year,” he insists. “It seems to be the time of year when even cranky, grumpy people seem to be touched by the spirit of generosity and kindness and brotherly love and I know that that ultimately stems from the true reason for the season, which is Christ.”
As Uproxx’s Heather Dockray points out, there’s a little something called “seasonal affective disorder” that kinda contradicts Dr. Cameron’s notion that Christmas cheers up “even cranky, grumpy people,” but hey, Kirk ain’t much for fancy science and research—which he further proves by stating, “[It is] offensive to 90 percent of people in our country who want to see nativity scenes and who know the birth of the Christ child is the fundamental root of Christianity, which is the ideology that built this country.” Ninety percent, eh? Yeah, not so much.
But, you see, this all comes with the territory. In a year where summer movie grosses are worrisomely down, independent films have proven surprisingly robust, and several of the biggest hits were aimed squarely at religious audiences. Son of God brought in $59 million, in spite of the fact that it was an abridged movie version of History’s The Bible miniseries — which most of its ticket buyers had probably already seen. Heaven is for Real grossed an even more remarkable $91 million, its first weekend very nearly topping Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s second.
But the most instructive “Christian” hit of the year is God’s Not Dead, which is less a motion picture than a dramatization of every religious conservative’s paranoid fever dreams about “liberal universities.” It is the story of an atheist philosophy professor (played by Hercules himself, Kevin Sorbo) who — and I’m not making this up, I swear to not-dead God — tells his students that, in order to get a passing grade, they must sign a declaration agreeing that “God is dead.” But ONE BRAVE CHRISTIAN YOUTH stands up to this monster and debates him into concession. You guys, this movie opened clear back in March and did a brisk business, and it doesn’t seem like we made a big enough deal about the fact that it’s predicated on an idea that’s as laughably unbelievable as Trans4mers’ dinosaur robots. Seriously, Christians: I went to New York University, which is about as liberal a university as our pagan gods have managed to brew up. This premise is bullshit.
But bullshit is what angry white Christians, the least persecuted portion of our population, are buying these days — the idea that their dominate dogma is somehow in danger of being snuffed out. Following God’s Not Dead into the marketplace (with far less success, it should be noted) was a movie that actually bore the title Persecuted, telling the story of a liberal senator who frames an evangelist for the murder of a teenage girl, forcing this would-be Fugitive to prove his own innocence, with the help of Fox News’ Gretchen Carlson. THIS IS AN ACTUAL MOVIE THAT HAPPENED.
And such movies will continue to happen, as long as there are paranoid Christians with a few dollars to tithe to their moviemaking brethren. Cameron has made a tidy living as the face of this JV Hollywood, and Saving Christmas isn’t reaching screens via some unknown, Santorum-fronted outfit; it’s going out through Samuel Goldwyn Films. They see the money Cameron’s bringing in, most recently with his “documentary” Monumental and his starring turns in such morality plays as the anti-porn Fireproof and the Left Behind series—a series which, it should be noted, has been “rebooted” with no less than Nicolas Cage in the lead. The religious conservative victimization fantasy of a vast conspiracy dead-set on taking away their Jesus and turning them into porn-loving, “Happy Holidays”-spouting, Muslim atheists may be utterly crackers, but you gotta give them this: it’s become quite the business model. And business is booming.