And there’s this year’s phenomenon, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which stars Jim Carrey. This is not just about special effects and neat-o costumes, though. Again, it relays a message. It has a moral, which is that Christmas is not about the presents, but instead about family and friends and love. But if we strip this celluloid naked of the Christmas element, what are we left with? We’re left with a green guy making a boatload of smart-aleck comments and a group of colorful people with snouts who live in a dysfunctional town and all have hairstyles that even the B-52’s would consider a little too much.
Send in the Oompa Loompas
So what do we do now? Is some genius writer/producer going to come up with one holiday special that unifies all races, religions, creeds, colors, etc.?
Let me answer that for you. Nope!
So, here is my proposal: I would like to nominate Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as the official, one and only, all-inclusive holiday program. Here’s why:
1) It teaches numerous lessons: The importance of thinking about others before ourselves; honesty pays off; greed is bad; and Oompa Loompas have a very strong work ethic. (They also represent inclusiveness of other ethnicities.)
2) It offers plenty of festive surroundings, which are indicative of the holiday season.
3) There’s lots of treats … like candy, but instead of boring and traditional candy canes, fruitcakes or chocolate coins, Willy has edible flowers, jaw breakers that last forever (ever-lasting Gobstoppers) and a whole chocolate lake. (Get me a Silly Straw!)
4) Willy offers various modes of transportation far more clever than a sled. He has a durable, flying glass elevator and a bodacious boat. This way, if you don’t like flying, there’s always the water as an option. Not to mention, Willy isn’t beating on any reindeer to carry him around!
5) In this day and age, it is quite clear that Santa has little regard for his health as is evidenced by his thick waist (not to mention his high level of bad cholesterol and the soaring blood pressure from the demands of his job). Willy, however, is slender, in far better physical condition and obviously knows when it’s time to retire. 6) And finally, what better theme song than “The Candy Man?” It extols Willy’s many virtues without mentioning anything about holidays, Jesus, religion and the like. And most importantly, it’s sung by a black, Jewish man with a glass eye.
And so, as the presidential candidates rest their cases, I rest mine.
And in the spirit of unifying a nation, I vote Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as THE choice for holiday movie.
Heidi Oringer is director of entertainment programming at ABCNEWS Radio.