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The too-white Christmas

The Hallmark Channel’s original movies have become a holiday viewing tradition in many households.  In fact, this year’s Countdown to Christmas campaign – boasting dozens of holiday movies – began before Halloween.

But according to the Hollywood Reporter, the Hallmark’s Channel’s White Christmas is just a little too white.  And too Christmas.

THR says the network has produced 24 new movies this year, yet only four of them star African American actors.  But an even greater crime is the lack of religious variety, focusing mainly on Christianity.  Last year, there were only two movies that referenced Judaism.  And none involved Kwanzaa or Dhanu Sankranti (Hindu).

So what’s the problem?  It’s a Countdown to Christmas.  Christmas – originally a Christian holiday.  And it’s a pretty big one that is celebrated worldwide.  Furthermore, Christmas offers a visual spectacle that’s perfectly suited for superficial TV movies that focus on love and family and the magic of the winter season.

Regardless, Hallmark has worked diligently to take Christianity completely out of Christmas.  Religion is rarely, if ever discussed in their films except for the occasional prayer for a miracle or an angel ornament with supernatural powers.

Hanukkah has been touched on twice.  One movie is about a Jewish girl whose Christmas work schedule conflicts with her religious celebrations.  Another film involves a Jewish actor who is hired to play someone’s boyfriend for a Christmas party.  So Judaism was more of a dramatic tool as opposed to the actual storyline.

Meanwhile, there are no Islamic or Sikh holidays in December.  And given the respect required for the more traditional and strict religions, writers have shied away from trying to turn solemn beliefs into a holiday love story.  So no one’s producing “Little Mosque on the Snow Drift” or “A Sikh for the Holidays.”

But it is definitely time that Hallmark stopped being the all-white network.  While their movies are sweet, every male lead is interchangeable and the majority of females – less the occasional slightly-dim star-power of Candace Cameron Buré (Full House) and Lacey Chabert (Party of Five) – have become just as bland.

Why not add a little zip to their cocoa and a few more colours to the crayon box?  After all, Christmas isn’t just white.

The Grinch is green, as is Holly, Ivy, Mistletoe and that all-important Christmas tree.  Red is the colour of Holly berries and the robes of Bishops.  That’s why St. Nicholas wore it and Coca Cola adopted it for their 1931 image of Santa.

Blue often represents the Virgin Mary, as well as the colour of royalty.  Purple is used in the Christian church during Advent, the weeks leading up to Christmas.  Gold is both Christian – one of the gifts given by the wise men – as well as pagan – the colour of the sun and light during the dark winters.

So if Christmas is celebrated with all kinds of colour, so should Hallmark.  We don’t need an all-white Christmas.  We’ve already got snow for that.