Culture Clips: It’s Hallmark Season


It’s that time of year again. Yup: It’s Hallmark season.

I came home a few nights ago to find my wife and two daughters watching a schmaltzy, sentimental Christmas movie on the Hallmark Channel. “Didn’t we see this one last year?” I asked. They looked at me with blank expressions, my wife answering, “Yes. And?” As if Hallmark movies could only be watched one time, she was obviously implying. (And, well, I guess I have seen Star Wars a few … hundred … times … )

These saccharine-infused, yuletide happy-ending fests may not be my cup of tea, personally. (At least, not three nights in row, as has happened this week.) But plenty of other folks tune into these sweet, innocuous Christmas movies on cable’s Hallmark Channel.

Writing for the Christian Science Monitor, Hannah Schlomann suggests that it’s because these stories present a surprisingly positive, hopeful, cynicism-free alternative to so much of what we see onscreen (and in the world) these days: “Television has long served as a form of escape,” she writes. “For many viewers, with its 24/7 feed of TV miniseries and movies full of white picket fences and wholesome family values, the Hallmark Channel has become a growing safe haven for those weary of the violence, conflict, and uncertainty churned out by both news broadcasts and apocalyptic-themed TV dramas.”

She also reports that in 2016, the network saw a surge of 10% in total viewership and 26% among the coveted 18-49 demographic. So the next time you secretly check to see if that one Hallmark Christmas movie is airing again, know that you’re not alone.

Back in the real world where endings aren’t always happy, you practically need scorecard to keep pace with the avalanche of allegations of sexual misconduct that pop up almost daily. And, in fact, more and more news outlets are publishing exactly that, including USA Today, whose most recent update lists all of the politicians, news figures and entertainers who’ve been accused since accusations against Harvey Weinstein surfaced several weeks ago.

Celebrities are struggling to deal with the fallout. In the opening monologue for her new Hulu Series I Love You, America, comedienne Sarah Silverman ponders the paradox of continuing to care for a friend who’s been accused (in her case, Louis C.K.) and yet not letting them off the hook because of that close kinship. “I love Louie,” she says in the show’s debut episode, “but Louie did these things. Both of those statements are true. So, I just keep asking myself, can you love someone who did bad things? Can you still love them? I can mull that over later, certainly, because the only people that matter right now are the victims. They are victims, and they’re victims because of something he did.”

Meanwhile, former child star Mara Wilson (Mrs. Doubtfire, Matilda) writes in Elle about the destructiveness of sexualizing young actresses when they’re barely even out of their tweens. She says, “As soon as I’d hit puberty, it had become okay for strangers to discuss my body. Every time I stumbled across an article about myself, every fear I had about my pubescent body was confirmed: I was ‘ugly,’ which as a woman, made me useless, or I was ‘cute,’ which made me an object. I was ‘grown up,’ which made me vulnerable. Because I was a child actor, my body was public domain.”

Elsewhere this week, final figures are in this week for Taylor Swift’s sixth album, Reputation, which apparently sold about 1.2 million copies in its debut frame. It was Swift’s fourth album in a row to sell more than a million copies during its first week—a feat no other artist has ever matched. And to put Swift’s massive sales in perspective even further, Rolling Stone reports that it sold more copies than the other 199 albums on the Billboard 200 chart combined.

Over in the realm of technology and its influence on our lives (and especially young lives), researchers continue to theorize that young people and smartphones are a really bad combination. Time reports on the growing body of scientific evidence suggesting a correlation between teen smartphone usage and the massive spike in teen depression and suicide in the last six years.

That article also mentions that the average age kids get their first smartphone these days is just 10 years old. That disturbing factoid prompted The Federalist’s Nicole Russell to write her article, “Why I’m Not Giving My Ten-Year-Old A Smartphone.

Finally this week, actress Gina Rodriguez, who stars in Jane the Virgin and the new animated Christmas movie The Star, talked with The Christian Post about the themes found in the latter. Rodriguez portrays Mary in the new film about Jesus’ birth. At one point, she tells Joseph, “Just because God has a plan doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.” Commenting on that line, Rodriquez said, “I live my life that way, I’m very aware that life is difficult and it isn’t going to be easy and there’s something in my heart that revels in those moments to see the triumph that I can bring in those difficult times.”

Who wrote this?

Adam R. Holz is a senior associate editor for Plugged In. He also writes for Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine and has been a Boundless contributor. In his free time (which there is sometimes precious little of) Adam enjoys playing guitar and constructing LEGO kits with his son. Adam and his wife, Jennifer, are the proud parents, in fact, of three children, one boy and two girls.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Christa Pelc More than 1 year ago
I'm always shocked at how every article on PluggedIn starts with one topic, and somehow meanders into attacking everything else pop culture.  I thought this article was supposed to be about why everyone like Hallmark movies, not on the rise of sexuality in our culture and the total depravity of anyone who uses a smartphone.
AsayPaul More than 1 year ago
Christa, just a quick clarification: Our weekly Culture Clips blog (you'll see it most Wednesdays) is designed to be a roundup of news itemsy--lots of different factets, quotes and tidbits dealing with entertainment and technology. Hopefully, we're not quite as scattershot in most of our other blog posts.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
By CbinJ
The first culture clip is exactly what I mean when I say that bad movies are not unique to Christian cinema. It's not fair to bash Christian movies (an industry trying to establish itself, which includes growing pains and other complexities) as if the secular market doesn't produce mostly junk. Hallmark pumps out cheap, poorly-made schmaltz everyday of the year. That's not to say everything Hallmark is bad--Signed, Sealed, Delivered is one of the best series' ever. It's just funny that so much time is dedicated to critiquing a fledgling market, when well-established companies with millions upon millions put out comparatively worse stuff which inspires very little intense debate.
By CbinJ
Inkfeather1 . More than 1 year ago
I've never had anyone try to tell me that Hallmark movies are objectively good. I have seen thousands of people try to say that Christian movies like God's Not Dead and Saving Christmas are good. No one is debating Hallmark movies because there's only one side: they're bad. In any field of art critique is the most valuable thing an artist can receive. People pointing out where you went wrong and didn't even realize it is how you improve as an artist. Unfortunately, it seems that a large portion of Christian movie makers and movie watchers would rather shut down all criticism and never go anywhere. If you really want to see this "fledgling" genre improve and get on the level of the rest of the movie industry, then you'll have to start accepting the criticism.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
By CbinJ
You are just proving my point. I've never said Christian movies are good; I said they are just as bad as most modern movies; I said that it has become a huge passoniate debate whereas the same people seem to ignore the industry wide problem. I know plently of people who think Hallmark movies are good--i.e. the message of the culture clip and personal experience. I know plenty of people who think Wonder Woman & et all are good. 
Putting scare quotes around "fledging" proves my secondary point: most people who critize Christian movies have no idea about all the complexities involved. There's money, blacklisting, politics, access, audience demand, learning curves, etc, etc. It's not as simple as Christian movies are bad because...bad writing, acting, directing, editing--there is so much more involved. 
By CbinJ
[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
Evan Weisensel More than 1 year ago
I remember reading a review of the new movie "The Star" that summed up what I feel is the biggest problem facing the Christian Film Industry today. 

Here's the quote from the AV Club review:
"...even the kid-friendliest, Sunday-school-iest kind of religious art can't spring from religion alone; it needs artistry, too. Otherwise, you end up with a generic product aimed at a market segment who'll buy anything as long as it seems sufficiently churchy."