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.”