Imagine being a kid around the holidays: there are shiny, beautiful, blinking decorations everywhere. There is a plethora of cookies and treats, and a fair bit of peppermint. Everyone asks you what some jolly stranger is going to bring you if you’re good. There are happy Christmas carols playing wherever you go. And then there are the countless Christmas movies playing on TV and in theaters. How incredible!
Now that I am a parent, I look forward to creating a festive, fun, and memorable time for my kids in the month leading up to Christmas. One way I like to do that is by sharing some of my favorite holiday traditions with them. For me, that includes watching all of the classic Christmas cartoons that I grew up enjoying with my own brother. But a funny thing happened this year: my three-year-old revealed to me that he doesn’t like them!
At first, he would politely sit through How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Charlie Brown Christmas, but when I would ask him if he wanted to watch them a few days later, he would quickly decline and request a newer Christmas cartoon instead.
“But honey, why don’t you want to watch The Grinch? I love that one!”
“The Grinch is mean. He steals Christmas. I want to watch Curious George.”
That was when I took a step back and realized that the Christmas cartoons that we have all grown to love have not aged well, for one reason or another. Sure, the music might still be catchy (my son still requests that I sing the Who song from The Grinch even if he doesn’t want to actually watch it) but there is actually something inherently wrong—or creepy or just plain weird—about most of the classics.
1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Probably the best Christmas cartoon of all time, right? Well…as my three-year-old pointed out, the Grinch is mean. Most of the Christmas cartoons that have been produced in recent years are all happy and fun with nary a villain to be seen. I tried watching The Grinch through my son’s eyes and found the grouchy, green Who to be pretty unpleasant. The parts of the movie where the other Whos sing and revel in Christmas spirit are fantastic, but I fear that they are too few and far between to hold the attention of a little person these days.
2. Frosty’s Winter Wonderland
Speaking of villains, Jack Frost plays a prominent role in this Frosty movie, and he kind of puts a damper on the whole happy Christmas mood. While it is true that there are mean people in real life, it seems that most cartoons these days are focused on keeping that reality off the screen. So the bad guy in this one seems totally out of place to a child born in recent years. He seems to have an unfounded grudge against our beloved snowman, and he’s a little scary-looking.
3. A Charlie Brown Christmas
The fact that my kid won’t watch Charlie Brown hurt a little more than the rest, I have to admit. But once again, through a three-year-old lens, this movie is a DRAG! Poor Charlie is pretty pathetic to begin with— hes’ always looking at the negative side of things. Plus the kids he surrounds himself with are straight-up mean. They call him names constantly, and most would be sent to the principal’s office these days for bullying. It’s only when Linus enlightens us to the true meaning of Christmas that the movie takes a turn for the better. Good grief.
4. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
If you want to talk about bullying, then look no further. Rudolph is just the butt of every other reindeer’s joke and he has to find other “misfits” like himself in order to feel good. In a world where participation trophies are given at every school event and “inclusion” is a buzz word, this movie just does not fly in 2017.
5. A Year Without Santa Claus
Heat Miser and Snow Miser are brothers who control the weather. They are flat-out scary and unpleasant and no character like them exists in other, more modern Christmas cartoons. After watching Daniel Tiger and Curious George ad nauseam, I can safely say that this movie is sorely out of place in the minds of today’s children.
6. Twas the Night Before Christmas
This particular cartoon wouldn’t be considered so terrible by today’s youth except for the fact that it was clearly animated in 1974. The haircuts and clothing choices of the characters are so unbelievably from another era that it’s almost impossible to ignore. The movie might have a saving grace, though. Since hipsters have made certain fashion choices popular again, it is possible that a kid might mistake a ’70s shag for a cool hipster ‘do. The jury is still out.