To cleanse the palate, I assumed that the post I wrote on this subject five years ago had conclusively settled the matter for the entire Internet. Imagine my surprise to find that pollsters are still testing public opinion on it.
No, of course “Die Hard” isn’t a Christmas movie in any meaningful sense. In an age when Americans seem to agree on nothing, they at least agree on that. When Public Policy Polling asked this question in 2015, 62 percent said that “Die Hard” didn’t qualify as a Christmas movie versus just 13 percent who thought it did. The good news for “Die Hard” fans, per this new one from Morning Consult: The share that thinks it’s a Christmas movie has grown since then.
The bad news? The share that disagrees hasn’t shrunk.
Just as you’d expect, if you were a teenaged or pre-teen boy when DH came out and have fond memories of watching it in the theater, you’re more likely than most of the population is to call it a Christmas movie. Which fits with my 2013 theory: The people willing to answer this question in the affirmative are mostly just people who grew up loving “Die Hard.” Ask them any question involving a positive connotation with the film (and Christmas is as positive as connotations get) and they’ll say yes.
But given the age splits in the graph above, I’m kicking around another theory. Maybe younger adults are more likely to call “Die Hard” a Christmas movie because most of the modern Christmas movies they’ve grown up with are forgettable crapola. Here’s more new data from Morning Consult, comparing how members of different age groups rate the “standout” Christmas movies of their age in terms of their associations with holiday traditions compared to the general population:
Note the quality of the films in each generation. Grandma and grandpa had “Miracle on 34th Street” and “It’s a Wonderful Life,” younger adults have “Home Alone” and “Four Christmases,” whatever that is. (No “Love, Actually”?) Can you blame the latter for reaching for a genuinely great movie, which “Die Hard” certainly is, and trying to force it into the Christmas pantheon? Look what they’re forced to choose from otherwise. It’s no accident that the Hallmark Channel airs sappy formulaic dreck 24/7 during the Christmas season, as that’s as close as young’uns can get to memorable Christmas-movie fare.
We can chop up the arguments pro and con every which way but in the end it’s this simple: A proper Christmas movie simply can’t involve one character violently killing another character, no matter how much the second character deserves it. A true Christmas version of “Die Hard” would involve Hans realizing the error of his ways as he’s dangling from the roof of Nakatomi Plaza, then enjoying a conciliatory eggnog with McClane before the cops haul him away. That’d make for a terrible movie, admittedly. But then most Christmas movies are terrible.
Exit quotation from Bruce farking Willis himself: “Die Hard is not a Christmas movie. It’s a god damn Bruce Willis movie.” QED.