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I Watched 21 Hours of Christmas Films While the West Collapsed

I submitted myself to the Sky channel that exclusively plays Christmas films as the world changed forever.

by Joe Bish
11 November 2016, 2:03pm

The author getting in the Christmas spirit

If you're basic enough to follow a Very British Problems-style Twitter account, or you just pay minimal attention to what's going on around you, you'll have noticed that Christmas is coming. Fancy crackers an pigs-and-blankets are being advertised, and John Lewis has done its big thing.

But it's not just products and food you can consume before celebrating the birth of that old dog Jesus Christ in December. There's a whole TV channel on Sky, Christmas 24, dedicated to showing Christmas films – traditionally heartwarming fare – all day, every day.

So on the day of the US election – you know, the one with the racist and the grinning woman people seemed to really hate – I wanted to spend an entire 24 hours of my life watching these films to see if they could make everything better. Let's see how it goes, shall we?


11:00: And so it begins. Christmas 24 isn't like Sky Movies Christmas. Sky Movies Christmas has all the legit films, like Home Alone and stuff. Christmas 24 is purely budget Hallmark movies with intro sequences that look like they were made by the South Park guys. It's so budget, in fact, that in lieu of adverts, before the 11AM film it's just rolling footage of a log fire, which doesn't warm you up as much as you might think. The movie coming up is called Merry Kissmas and is about a woman who "shares an impromptu kiss in a lift with a handsome stranger" and "feels like she's finally and serendipitously found true love". Can't wait.

11:04: The antagonist in this story is an English actor who is the fiancé of the attractive lady who will be kissing some guy in the lift. Seems that, even at Christmas, Americans are still sore about the colonies. Get over it, lads!

11:11: There are lots of funeral ads on this channel, which isn't very Christmassy.

11:58: There's only the tiniest tenuous link to Christmas in this film. The whole thing is set in San Francisco, which is sunny, and the plot is more centred around an engagement party than actual Christmas day. It's only little tidbits like a nutcracker doll or a bit of mistletoe that remind you it's supposed to feel festive. Fucking lame.

12:12: Good lord, all these adverts are about PPI compensation, hospices and life insurance. ☹

12:56 One down. The fake fire is back on.

13:01: This one stars Lacey Chabert, who was in Mean Girls and also played Meg Griffin in the first series of Family Guy. Going to go ahead and assume that if she was still doing that she probably wouldn't be starring in the Motion Picture Corporation of America's production of A Royal Christmas.

13:12: This is one is already better. It has snow, a cantankerous mother-in-law in the form of Jane Seymour, it's more knowingly silly. But the adverts about how expensive hearses and coffins are is dragging me right out of the Christmas vibe.

13:39: I fucking love this film. It's Christmassy, it's fun, there's not weird, needless conflict to bolster the jeopardy. For a shitty TV movie it's doing pretty well.

14:00: This is like a Christmas-themed Downton Abbey but with more cutesy bullshit and less young men going to die boneless in the Somme.

14:02: Might start drinking soon.

14:23: Wish I was rich. I'd gladly go full Tory to dance a waltz in a ballroom and then do some £200 gear in the bogs with a man in a kilt.

15:00 That was a great Christmas film, I even misted up a little bit. She was from the wrong side of the tracks but she got her Christmas miracle in the end. Beautiful. Next up, a businesswoman inherits a Christmas tree "farm" and, get this, a lawyer (?!) convinces her not to sell it. Come with me, readers, on this seasonal adventure, while I try to stop myself from drinking spirits.

15:06: Already off to a good start: it's snowing, it's in NYC, there's a sad act Santa hanging around in the cold. If I see another one of these set in fucking Death Valley or some hot-all-year-round shithole I'm gonna be angry.

15:14: Funnily enough, the charming lawyer in this looks like he could also play The Punisher.

15:17: All these yokels want this woman to move back to Hicksville, USA so she can run a business that would only be profitable once a year, and even then it would probably struggle. She has a good job that she's clearly worked hard for. Patriarchy, much? Santa is a man after all.

15:27: There isn't a lot of magic in any of these films. They seem to be just normal situations centred around Christmas as opposed to elves and sleigh bells and stuff. Where's the love?

15:53: Cot dang this film fucking sucks.

16:14: It hasn't got any better. There's this really annoying subplot in which "the city" sucks and Yokeltown is the nice place where all the good, kind people live, even though they're probably all Trump-voting Christmas fascists who think baby Jesus is going to return from the heavens on a blinding white stallion, sword in hand, destroying every mosque he sees. Those guys suck.

16:44: Really bad film. Going to start drinking.

17:00: Okay, next up is A Mission for Christmas, which is about a dead woman coming back as an angel to help with some Christmas stuff or whatever. That's what we need more of: more actual wonder, even if it does involved a reanimated corpse. Magical delight at the most perfect time of year.

17:10: The woman in heaven has an iPad. Heaven probably would have iPads, in fairness, but good ones that wouldn't break, and all the apps would be free, and there would be no waiting times on The Simpsons: Tapped Out.

17:17: Hmm. Steve Job's ghost is here, too. And there's Apple Watches. Is... this ... shitty... Christmas movie... sponsored by Apple?

17:25: It's set in Portland, this one. It's a hipster angel Christmas film; bang into it so far. Six-and-a-half hours in, things are looking up, guys. There always seems to be some rando English actors in these films – is that because so many English people go to America to find fame but actually find themselves in these weird lame TV movies? Is this where they all go?

17:40: I sense this is going to become very difficult. Six hours in it's not so bad. The alcohol is helping. Hilariously, many of the actors in these movies look very similar to more successful actors. There was a fake Tom Hiddleston in the royals movie; this one has a fake Chris Pratt.

19:20: All of these films are about self-absorbed New Yorkers. Isn't Christmas about family? Togetherness? Are these movies aimed at self-centred millennials? Because if so, I think they're barking up the wrong tree.

19:30: So fucking bored wow.

19:47: Okay, this one is straight up just a rom-com; not even trying to be Christmassy.

20:16: Another common theme with these American "Christmas" films is a dichotomy between the country and the city, and somehow trying to find your "heart" in either of them. The heart is lost in the city and found again in rural areas.

20:44: Not even halfway done. Lordy-loo.

21:45: Watching another rom-com style one rn. I've checked the next one and it's at least got actual Santa in it, so I'm holding out hope. Is Santa copyrighted or something? Can you not do a film about Santa unless you pay Coca Cola a million quid?

22:01: I really, really want to do anything that isn't watching these films right now. Just seen a MacMillan advert where a bloke with cancer rings up the call centre crying and the woman just goes, "Walk on. Walk on." Now, I'm no therapist, but telling a guy with cancer to jog on seems a bit harsh.


22:29: This one has carols in it, which makes it feel a lot more Christmassy. It's called Once Upon a Holiday, and is, as far as my research goes, the only film I've seen today with a Wikipedia page.

23:01: Right, let's do this. This one has real Christmas shit in it. Prancer's here! Remember Prancer? He's one of the reindeers along with Rudolf and all those other guys. Prancer's hoof is busted and they have to get another reindeer. Enter stage left: a hard-faced, hard-on-her-luck mother with a fucked up reindeer ranch who's in dire need of a Christmas miracle. Only 12 more hours to go!

23:59: Mrs. Claus is basically Meddlesome Ratbag from Viz in this film.

00:14: As I'm watching these, the American election is being declared. This is a happy coincidence. I was supposed to do this last week but it fell through. How can sitting at home watching TV fall through, you ask? It can, trust me.

00:26: Might silently watch some porn as a distraction, just to change it up a little.

00:46: Trump is taking an early lead as this, my seventh Christmas film of the day, reaches its emotional peak. That PornHub tab is looking mighty fine right about now!

00:51: The magic is over. Next up is a "romantic drama". Someone give me a fentanyl enema.

00:58: Got a cognac on the go now. Ready to be bored out of my fucking skull again during the upcoming "romantic drama".

01:12: I don't really know what's going on in the election – just seeing a big red map of the USA. Trump looking pre-tty good from here. The film is very easy to follow. There's a woman from True Blood in it who's afraid of commitment, and her love interest has a bet that he can't get a girl to commit before Christmas. We all know what's happening.

01:14: Getting another drink.

01:27 This one has a John C. Reilly lookalike in it, if John C. Reilly was pumped full of dog food.

01:39: I'm trying to watch this boring Christ-rom, but it's looking a little bit like Donald Trump is going to be the president of America, ergo planet Earth. Tough to concentrate on this shitty movie, NGL.

01:42: I've got a feeling Trump's going to win this. Remember Brexit and how that was going to be chill and we all thought "no way" and then it turned out to be very "yes way"? Feels a bit like that. I also have nine more hours of fucking trash to go.

02:03: I've got Alex Jones on Infowars screaming over all the people singing carols on TV.

02:14: They just did the thing again where the man character is doing something righteous and the music plays over him talking and slow zooms on the girls face as she swoons with festive delight. Trump is projected to win Arkansas.

02:29: Starting to get quite tired now.

02:31: Not one person has mentioned Christmas once in this fucking film. Why is it even on this channel?

02:40: It's raining. A Bride for Christmas has just finished. Only one more film until teleshopping begins. I've downloaded It's A Wonderful Life for this eventuality so I have something to watch in the two-hour interval before normal programming resumes at 7AM.

02:45: The crackling of the fake fire on the TV is rattling through me. Some New York Times graphic is telling me that there's a 54 percent chance of Trump winning the election.

02:58: The fake fire is torture. Hell is not real fire. Hell is fake fire taunting you with its lack of purpose.

03:01: Awwwwwwww shit, Meadow from The Sopranos is the main character in this one. This may not seem a big deal to you, but 17 hours in, a familiar face has really excited me.

03:26: Good GOD this one is depressing. Lots of dead mums and dads and lost children. Bumming me out, but somehow making me feel strangely alive? Trump leads 150 to 109, though I don't really know what that means. 109 what? Thought there would be more votes than that, to be honest. Another ad break.

03:56: Seven more hours.

04:22: Literally don't know what is going on any more. I'm so very tired. My brain is completely filled with shit. These films feel like something the government would stick on to make you forget that they're flooding your nervous system with fluoride and nuclear runoff.

04:38: There goes the ninth film, washed away like a liquorice rollie into a near-overflowing gutter. I will now watch It's A Wonderful Life.

05:02: It's Trump: 244, Clinton: 209. Probably going to win by the looks of it.


05:23: I'm trying to make a link between this film and what's happening around me. I'm trying to piece all of these bits of mouldy puzzle together but they don't fit. When I started watching these shitty movies (with the exception of It's A Wonderful Life, which I'm discovering is great) I lived in a time of assumed success, assumed normality and, much like all those Hallmark films, expected the end result to be just what I thought. I didn't need to see it to the credits to know what happened, because it followed a formula I was familiar with.

But nothing about this election follows any formula I'm aware of. It was the same with Brexit: the walls around me melted and I scrunched up my face and frowned at a computer screen – the same thing I do when I see the line-up of the celebrity edition of a reality show. I feel completely disconnected, and worse feel impotently unable to connect, and in many ways I don't want to connect. I'm quite happy to release myself into the sanctuary of mental comfort, only poking my head out of the anthill to produce a tiny opinion worthless against a landslide of insanity – but my insanity is millions of other people's salvation.

I don't understand the extreme polarisation. Perhaps I'm not looking hard enough. Maybe I'm just too tired and am talking bollocks.

06:25: George Bailey's life is a shit show. The films are not stopping. They won't announce who the president is yet and my chest is tightening. I don't know how much more depressing Christmas movie x depressing autumnal reality I can take.

06:53: I'm calling it, guys. James Stewart is about to jump off a bridge and I think it's high time we all joined him. America has, once again, in its own special microcosmic way, decided to fuck not only itself, but potentially everyone else. Whereas at the start of this journey to the heart of chintz I believed their lives would remain largely untouched by this election, I now, in my exhausted delirium, think the opposite, and it's all guns blazing from here on out.

Nice one, lads. Good job. At least we're no longer responsible for the worst decision of 2016. And we have better Christmas films.

@joe_bish

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