The Hallmark Channel has a reputation for producing movies that social conservatives find wholesome. Not surprisingly, these movies get satirized by cynical Hollywood. Consider, for example, this 2017 satire courtesy of Saturday Night Live:
(Yes, it is true that SNL is in New York while the Hallmark Channel is actually headquartered in, ahem, Studio City, California. But just forget about that: “Hollywood” is less a place than it is a cultural whipping boy / bogeyman that can conveniently be invoked whenever social conservatives see something that they don’t like.)
But I digress. NBC News just posted an article titled ‘LGBT indoctrination agenda’? Petitions want to keep Hallmark ‘family-friendly‘ which describes two new petitions against Hallmark by Christian conservatives. Why?
“Two separate petitions are asking Hallmark to keep its content “family-friendly” by keeping the “promotion of homosexuality and transgenderism” out of its movies and advertisements.”
The article explains,
“Though Hallmark is rolling out 40 original holiday-themed movies this season, none of those movies include an LGBTQ main character — and One Million Moms and LifeSiteNews petitioners want to keep it this way.”
However, Hallmark is currently exploring future productions that include LGBT characters and themes. Hence, the protest: “One Million Moms” and “LifeSite News” want to keep the wholesomeness of the traditional Hallmark Christmas movie without having it sullied by non-heterosexuals.
But what is a “wholesome” Hallmark movie? Is it like The Christmas Card, for example? This popular Hallmark Christmas movie depicts a classic love triangle when a woman who is already committed to one man kisses another man and effectively develops an emotional affair with him. Notably, this behavior is rewarded as the two lovebirds end up together.
The basic storyline is repeated in another popular Hallmark offering: in A Christmas Detour a woman headed to meet her fiancee and his family is detoured on Christmas Eve to a small town where she shares a kiss with a bad-boy bartender. But she then decides that she needs to follow her heart and leave her committed fiancee for this bad new beau.
The Christmas Card and A Christmas Detour are but two examples of a storyline which is repeated ad nauseam in Hallmark movies (and in the wider culture), one in which the follow your heart theme is presented as trumping sober (and far less exciting) self-giving commitment. Unfortunately, this selfish and trite notion of love as infatuation is deeply subversive of mature, committed love as I explain in my 2011 book You’re Not as Crazy as I Think with respect to the popular film Titanic:
Despite the fact that Titanic packed cinemas with swooning teenage girls, the film had little if anything to do with true love. Just think about the premise: a centenarian is still fantasizing about the twenty-year-old man she had had a brief fling with eight decades before. What’s romantic about that? The fact is that Rose never really knew Jack. She certainly never saw him grow old and lose his hair in some places (while growing it in others). Nor did she ever see him get age spots and varicose veins, expand in the mid-section, become debilitated from arthritis, suffer from colorectal cancer, and finally succumb to dementia. All she has is a fantasy of a young man that has apparently served over the years as a convenient periodic respite from the sometimes unpleasant reality of her real husband and family. Far from being true love, this is an unhealthy, regressive infatuation. Exciting though the fantasy may be, real love is found not in a constructed image from long ago but rather in the commitment that sustains us through the trials of receding hairlines, overdrawn bank accounts, expanding waistlines, and devastating medical diagnoses. Perhaps Rose’s attraction to Jack could have developed into love, but, alas, we suspect that that sort of movie would not have sold nearly as many tickets. True love, it would seem, is just not that romantic.
The irony of all this is disturbing, if not particularly surprising: “One Million Moms” and “LifeSite News” protest the mere possibility that a Hallmark movie might include non-heteronormative characters. But they are silent about the fact that Hallmark movies regularly subvert Christian notions of self-giving love and sober marital commitment in favor of whimsical self-actualization by way of personal infatuation. In short, if you really want to protest Hallmark movies, you should probably start with the ones they’ve been making for years.
Or better yet, you could simply turn off the TV.