Naughty and Nice 2017 #6: Christmas Antagonists

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Every party has to have a pooper, and that’s why the following were invited to Christmas.

Despite all being regulated to No. 2, don’t believe for a second that all poopers are equal. We’ve had some downright magnificent bastards in our Christmas stories, movies and specials, but we’ve also had some bland, pointless wastes of time.

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1. Professor Hinkle — Frosty the Snowman

The Hink’s only important role in all of Frosty the Snowman was providing the hat that brought Frosty to life. The whole rest of the movie, he’s pretty much a nothingburgermeistermeisterburger; he has no impact whatsoever on the plot save for a small bit in the beginning and again in the end. The mere seconds separating the Hink’s apparent victory to the neigh-immediate pathetic comeuppance was the real magic trick, here.

2. Stubbornness — The Santa Clause

This movie was well-loved, but it always grated on me. That’s the danger inherent in writing a man vs. self plot, though; it’s all too easy to make the entire movie about your main character saying “No” for 90 minutes, then finally saying “Yes” at the end of the third act. I guess you really just have to watch The Santa Clause for the effortful worldbuilding.

3. Sand — Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey

I’ve dumped on this Rankin/Bass special before, and I’ll do it again.

Yes, sand. Arch-nemesis to Anakin Skywalker and the Virgin Mary alike. The whole special was building up Nestor, from his birth deformity to the bullying to the cruel death of his mother, all to put him in place where his long ears could shield Mary from a sandstorm as she made her way to the City of David.

Though I suppose God might be the real antagonist, as He didn’t need to put Nestor through all that when He could have much more easily just not had a sandstorm that day.

1. The Grinch — The Grinch who Stole Christmas

While the story is a redemption arc for the creature whose name is synonymous with meanness, The Grinch really brings the goods. He’s clever, creepy, menacing, unflappable and a genuine threat. While antagonists in Christmas yarns are destined to lose, The Grinch is a worthy villain who really sets the bar for effective evildoing.

2. Life itself — It’s a Wonderful Life

As Rocky Balboa will tell you, nothing hits harder than life. The frequency and severity in which random happenstance deprives George Bailey of every single dream and goal he ever had is so fantastic, 80% of the movie is spent itemising each occurance. By the time George is on that bridge ready to end it all, you don’t just believe him; you’re left with no doubt as to why it has come to this. While life ultimately fails to hit George hard enough to stop him from keeping going, I admire the passion and conviction it showed in the attempt.

3. My True Love — “The 12 Days of Christmas”

This of course, is the freaky stalker who choses to prove their love to you by providing an ever-increasing number of birds and slaves to you each day from Christmas to the Epiphany. They pull a reverse-Grinch by overburdening you with horribly impractical gifts instead of leaving you with nothing.

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1. Warren Hammerschmidt — Last Ounce of Courage:

Last Ounce of Courage is one of those movies you check out on TV one day, because you’re curious about whether it’s as bad as you’ve heard. This is essentially “War on Christmas: The Movie,” where a father whose son was killed in the War in Iraq goes to town to restore the supposed spirit of Christmas, after the township was forced to remove certain Christmas imagery and crosses from the decorations. The antagonist here is Warren “Hammer” Hammerschmidt, played by Fred Williamson, the head of the organization responsible. The organization is an obvious stand-in for the ACLU, who advocates for the separation of church and state, and the head just happens to be black. This movie didn’t perform well financially, but the War on Christmas rages on.

2. Lord Zedd — “I’m Dreaming of a White Ranger” from Power Rangers

This is also the kind of episode I mention in the “Nice” section. This was one of the biggest episodes to highlight how the writers lost track of Lord Zedd in the Power Rangers series, something I noticed even when I was young. His grand plan here is to brainwash all the children to do his bidding in the future, and ruin Christmas. Of course, his plan is foiled by the Power Rangers, which leads to him giving a “bah humbug” to the holiday. This Christmas special was better than “Alpha’s Magical Christmas,” the series’ first Christmas special, but it was still far from great.

1. District Attorney Thomas Mara — Miracle on 34th Street

Thomas Mara is one of my personal favorite Christmas movie antagonists, mainly because he’s represents several cynical viewers. He figures that Kris Kringle couldn’t possibly be the real Santa Claus during the court case near the movie’s end, even though he is for the sake of this film. Mara doesn’t qualify as a villain per se, but he’s certainly an antagonistic figure for those watching who know he’s Santa, especially if they’re young.

2. The Joker — “Christmas with the Joker” from Batman: The Animated Series

The Joker is hardly a Christmas villain, but I was a big fan of this episode and his actions within it when I was younger thanks to its subject matter. Christmas episodes in many other cartoons were tamer than others, likely due to demands from executives. But this one didn’t hold back, as the Joker and his henchmen play a little game by kidnapping three familiar characters (Commissioner Gordon, Harvey Bullock, and Summer Gleeson) and threatening to kill them unless Batman can find them in time. Sure, Batman saves them (along with Robin), but I appreciated how the episode didn’t sacrifice the usual tone.

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