Good Reason

It's okay to be wrong. It's not okay to stay wrong.

The clothes were cool though.

I just watched ‘Miracle on 34th Street’. It was an eye-opening experience for me because I’d never seen it before, and it’s such a well-loved and admired film and… it sucked. Zeus, it sucked. It was really a terrible movie, and not just because of its leaden plot.

There’s this woman. She’s successful at her job, she has a daughter, and she divorced, which must have been pretty groundbreaking for the time. But even better, she’s really rational and skeptical. She’s committed to raising her daughter without lying to her about Santa Claus. Okay, she takes it a little far by also not reading fairy tales to her child, but even the rational among us sometimes wonder about the effects of fiction on kids.

Anyway, she’s doing great, and then over the course of the film, her rational worldview is undermined by Frank, a nice but woolly-headed lawyer, and Kris, a delusional geriatric. Frank tells her “Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to.” And by the end of the film (during which time the action has shifted completely over to the men and off of her), when Frank proves that Kris is really Santa Claus, she says, “I never really doubted you. It was just my silly common sense.”

The fuck did I just watch?

5 Comments

  1. Yikes!! I half-watched it once, but I hadn't noticed it was so bad.

    Of course, the theme of common sense being the enemy is really par for the course with Christmas entertainment. I wrote a post a few years ago about different Christmas specials where the villain is the skeptic who is ruining everyone's Christmas magic.

    • This is a pattern I'd never noticed before, but I'm sure it will stick out like a sore thumb now that I have. Who can forget the skeptical Scrooge?

      "You don't believe in me," observed the Ghost.

      "I don't," said Scrooge.

      "What evidence would you have of my reality beyond that of your senses?"

      "I don't know," said Scrooge.

      "Why do you doubt your senses?"

      "Because," said Scrooge, "a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!"

  2. It's a popular Hollywood theme not limited to Christmastime. Even supposedly rational TV shows fall foul of the balance problem.

    I've watched a lot of Becker lately. He's "science all the way", is outspoken with his atheism and regularly dismisses alternative therapies as nonsense. But, every once in a while, the door will be left open for the viewer to accept that he might just be wrong and maybe acupuncture, like God, works in mysterious ways. Becker is also grumpy and cynical for the most part.

    Similar things happen in Bones where the title character, despite her apparent genius, is often portrayed as rational to the point of being a socially ignorant moron while the nice normal people who surround her seem "open" to the paranormal.

    • "House" is good for that. His character is even quoted saying "You can't reason with a religious person. If you could reason with a religious person, there wouldn't BE any religious people." or something like that…

  3. I haven't watched it since I was a kid. I might have to watch it again. With "The Invention Of Lying" on standby for recovery purposes…

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