Holidays can be tense these days; there are certain subjects that dredge unwanted tensions, dark secrets, and myriad of other unpleasant situations.
Few subjects, however, draw as much ire to the age-old debate that has been tearing us apart for over 30 years: is the 1988 Bruce Willis movie Die Hard a Christmas movie?
Obviously, the answer is yes, but like flat-earthers, creationists, and people who say The Beatles suck, some people are unwilling to embrace reality and accept this proven truth.
Thankfully, I, the Neil Degrasse Tyson of this argument, is here to provide you with the tools to shut down the myths the uneducated use to further their ridiculous point of view.
Listed below are the three myths people on the wrong side of this debate throw in your face, along with a series of quick, easy and most importantly fact based refutations that will leave your opponents feeling like Ellis when his plan to get McClane to give Hans the detonators by pretending to be his friend backfired spectacularly.
MYTH 1: ‘Die Hard would be the exact same movie if you set it on any other day of the year.
Congratulations, you payed absolutely no attention the plot of the movie whatsoever. For Hans’s plan to be successful, two things needed to happen:
- Nakatomi Plaza had to be almost completely empty.
- Police response had to be incredibly slow because most people would’ve taken the day off and weren’t expecting any sort of emergency call-in.
Remember, Hans and his men weren’t really terrorists; their ultimate goal was to break into the vault and steal the building’s money. They needed just enough hostages to cause a distraction, and the 30 or so people at the Nakatomi Corporation’s Christmas party was perfect. By only taking the 30th floor hostage as opposed to multiple floors, it gave them ample opportunity for them to move freely throughout the rest of the building and cut the computer systems for the vault while Hans dicked the cops and the FBI around.
Of course, Hans didn’t account for John McClane, ‘the fly in the ointment, monkey in the wrench, pain in the ass,’ to completely fuck his plan to all hell.
MYTH # 2: The spirit of Christmas is completely absent.
While this argument might work when discussing the visuals of the film, it doesn’t really apply to the film in regards to plot (which we’ve discussed), the events, or the character development.
The general archetype of any the more ‘traditional’ Christmas movies are usually amalgam of the following tropes:
- A man trying to get home to his family and encountering a series of obstacles.
- Achieving some sort of redemption that renews their faith in love, the holiday, and / or humanity in general.
Die Hard fits the bill just fine in these regards: John McClane is estranged from his family due to his own arrogance and rigid adherence to his job. He’s cynical, angry and edgy when we first meet him, albeit with a likable wit and nonchalant demeanor.
The onus of this rift isn’t entirely on John: Holly doesn’t seem to sympathize with the fact that John really doesn’t a ‘pick up and go’ sort of job, and that his reasons for not coming to Los Angeles with her had little to do with jealousy or lack of support. Both characters need a sort of Christmas Carol-esque ‘dark night of the soul,’ and boy do they get it.
Beyond that, the general sense of family, love and togetherness we associate with Christmas adds both emotional heft and tension to a lot of the movie’s most nail biting moments. When Hans Gruber mentions that George Takagi is a father of five and kills him minutes later, we can’t help but think of his family waiting for him to come home for Christmas, unaware of his fate.
There’s also Al Powell, the hapless cop who becomes McClane’s best friend; he’s got a kid on the way, and is missing Christmas and possibly the birth of his kid just because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. As John and Al grow closer throughout the film, we bite our nails in anticipation if they ever get to meet face to face. The development of their friendship throughout the film is one of its most powerful and moving attributes, and is a major step in McClane’s own journey to make things right with his family. (Powell achieves his own redemption when he gets over his guilt for shooting a kid by accident, drawing his gun and killing the last remaining terrorist).
Even seemingly less important moments like the FBI cutting the power on thousands of families, or Argyle the limo driver helplessly waiting in the parking garage, become empathetic moments for the audience simply because of the vibe we associate with Christmas.
I hope this article is informative and helpful, and convinces at least one poor soul out there to embrace what we’ve all known for years: Die Hard is the best Christmas movie of all time.