3 Reasons to Watch Hallmark Movies
Today's article is written by a guest author, Vincent Wise. Wise is a graduate student at California University of Pennsylvania, where he specializes in Secondary Education and Social Studies.
I know what you might be thinking, “Why in the world would a twenty-four year old Master’s student suggest to me to watch Hallmark?” And the only answer is, I kind of like it. I think that Hallmark has something to give us, something a tad better than a story pandering to an army of Middle Aged White Women. Here I wish to explore that topic and give you three reasons to go support Candace Cameron Bure or Lacey Chabert.
When you talk about the Ideal you often think of something heady like the Platonic Forms and how there exist in reality an ideal for all things. For instance there are tables and all tables have similarities but in the metaphysical realm there exists a table that is the perfect table by which all tables take their shape after. This kind of concept exists in many different forms but the real problem with it is that it's not very digestible by the everyday audience. No one cares that some metaphysical realm exists in which things have perfected purpose but what people do care about is what can be tangibly shown to them.
I can honestly tell you that my mom, who is probably the one person who keeps Hallmark’s stocks up at all, does not care and will never care about learning about the platonic forms, instead she likes to see Candace Cameron Bure meet some Lawyer in a small town in the middle of Minnesota during the fiftieth storm of the century that day and then fall in love. But that’s okay!
My mother is getting to experience something similar to the Platonic Ideal because she is getting to experience something that may or may not amount to something like a form. Sure the story plots may be the same over and over again and sure the acting might be something akin to that of a high school drama club but I think the thing that is being conveyed isn’t that the writers are masters of storytelling (though every once in a while there's a pretty good story written) or that the actors and actresses are the best in the industry; no, the thing being conveyed through these movies and shows is the Ideal of the Good Life and Happiness.
One movie that, I particularly found interesting, was about this engaged couple that were planning their wedding. Both of whom had terrible past experience with weddings (for example the lead woman was left at the altar) and both of whom had very taxing careers that they worked hard in, photography and a yoga/couples counseling exercise program. But the thing that really got the story rolling was the fact that the couple wanted to do their wedding as “perfect” as possible, but circumstances meant they either had to wait forever or rush the wedding for it to happen at the “perfect” venue. As one would expect with two full time jobs, obligations, preparing for a wedding in a few weeks and the mysterious entrance of the guy who left the lead female at the altar, everything falls apart. It wouldn't be a Hallmark movie if it didn't! The couple begin to doubt their whole relationship, the stress of putting up a gallery of the lead male’s photography gets at him while he fights not to be just another wedding photographer, and all the plans that would make the wedding perfect start to fall through.
How can this not be appealing? Sure, not all of us are Yoga Psychology Counselors or Photographers worth a damn that are about to get married in the most rushed wedding since the Princess Bride. There is something there, that pertains to us, as adults and people who are doing our best to enter into our career fields and find love. For twenty and thirty-year-olds, life seems to be a race that we have to keep running towards the finish line. Some of us hit our wall and fall apart and that's because we suffer the same thing that is happening here in the story of the rushed wedding for this couple.
Life happens to them and now it's their job to figure out what to do with the mess that’s been dealt to them. That is what is so brilliant about these movies. They take such mundane problems, real problems, and try to answer them, sometimes too simple, but they’re really contending with the problems that you and I are facing. At the end of the wedding rushers’ story (SPOILER ALERT) they end up getting married in an old run down building with their friends and family around them and are absolutely happy with the results.
Because the ideal isn’t to have this "perfect moment" but to enjoy the moments together with friends and family in the circumstances that you must deal with.
I think that’s a pretty great message.
So I know I’m going to get a few weird looks for this one, but one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time is a Hallmark movie. There I said it. I actually like the Christmas moves, even if I complain about them every time they are one. (Really the complaint is that they are being broadcast in the middle of July! Why?) The movie is called Christmas Under Wraps and it is equal parts romantic and comedic in that Gen X-er type way.
The main character (played by the famous Candace Cameron Bure most notably known for her role as D.J. on Fuller House) is a doctor looking for work. She doesn't get the job she wanted, so instead she takes job in the small town of Garland, Alaska, which is quite literally in the middle of nowhere. What the viewer comes to realize quickly and what the doctor figures out while living there is that the town is no mere normal town. Nor is the shipping company run by the jolly-big-cookie-loving owner just any normal shipping company; she’s living in the North Pole with Santa and his Elves. The movie is hilarious, Santa has Diabetes, Rudolph sprains his ankle, and the amount of ridiculous ways the towns people lie to the ever growing suspicious doctor is comical in a very campy sense.
There are plenty of Hallmark movies that fall within this fold. There’s the Good Witch, all the Christmas Tales, and even the magic of a girl falling in love with a prince from some nonexistent country in Central Europe. The magic itself is often a plot device that is used to further tell the cookie cutter story but its done often in ways that make magic feel like its a part of this world. For me that’s something that’s hard to do. Not even Harry Potter did that well.
That, I'll say it again, is the Brilliance of these movies; they make the viewer feel like they could drive up to Nowheresville, Arkansas meet the Archduke of Metatronia and learn that they are descended from the Witch that they saved the world from the Dark Lord and now they can use that magic to open up a knitting shop in their new hometown.
Something has been missing from modern day movies that I think is a pretty tragic to have lost. Now I’m not idealising the movies of the past, and there have been plenty of movies in the 30’s-60’s that have the same sort of feel that these modern day movies have. But there’s a darkness that underlines most major movie productions. Our superhero movies kill off half the universe’s population, our love stories include scam artists who trick a girl to fall in love with them for their crown, and our kids movies are dealing with depression and anxiety. There’s a lot of good that has come out of that, and I personally love the themes of all those genres including the real gritty and dark aspects of reality but as the famous philosopher once quipped, “And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
I think this is where all the hype in recent years has come from in the “Wholesome Movement.” We’re constantly being berated by dark images and thoughts and so some of us have decided to try to find the good things in life, like Keanu Reeves or Wholesome Memes and images (kittens anyone?) that always makes you feel warm after you’ve looked at them long enough. That’s where stuff like old Fred Astaire movies or Hallmark movies come in. A Hallmark movie is like an hour and thirty minute long Wholesome Meme and that’s great! Sitting down and watching a movie about people falling in love and making their mundane lives exciting should be something that we watch every once in a while.
Let's face it, we often need to be reminded that in the slow and boring lives we lead that we too can achieve happiness and turn the lives we’re living into something good.
Hallmark movies are charming, they provide something for us to look at and go, “I really like that because it's cute and adorable and I too can have that if I really ever strived to move my life that way.” And that’s great! That’s brilliant!
Obviously you have to take this with a nuanced approach. Sadly none of us will be whisked away by Prince Charming to Meratonia, and tragically most romances are not as exciting as the "kissing in the rain" stories that are regularly broadcasted on Hallmark. But that's not the point. These movies inspire us to pursue the great adventure story that is romance. It pushes us to fall in love and truly pursue someone for the sake of that person. And as we say here at Chapteroftheday.com, we all deserve a good story. That’s why you should watch Hallmark Movies.
Special thanks to Vincent Wise, our guest author this week, for sharing his insight with us. Wise is a scholar in the areas of Secondary Education and Social Studies.
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