Point: Die Hard Debate: Is It a Christmas Movie or Not?

Gustavo Damian Danemann Soto, Editor-in-Chief

   It’s Christmastime, and with it come endless holiday movie marathons. Get ready to watch Home Alone, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Die Hard! Yes, the Bruce Willis-led classic is a Christmas must-watch for an endless array of reasons, and denying it is a symptom of utter Grinch-dom.

   Die Hard is centered around New York cop John McClane (played by Bruce Willis), who comes to his wife’s holiday work party on Christmas Eve and becomes the only saving grace for those in the building when terrorists take over. McClane looks to reunite with both his wife, Holly, and their son. What’s more representative of Christmas than the value of family coming together in the chilly season?

   According to a SurveyMonkey study, Die Hard is one of surveyed Americans’ ten favorite Christmas movies of all time, even placing higher than Love Actually. Popular films like Gremlins, A Christmas Carol, Scrooged, and The Polar Express didn’t even make the list. A beloved watch during the cozy season, Director John McTiernan’s flick sure has a wintertime reputation (surveymonkey.com). Not enough evidence? According to Google Trends, searches for the film’s title are at their highest during Christmas week (trends.google.com). Secondly, most Christmas films feature one, if any songs related to this time of the year. Yet, according to Digital Spy, Die Hard has a whopping four Christmas-themed songs in its soundtrack, including “Winter Wonderland” and “Let it Snow.” Numbers don’t lie (digitalspy.com).

   Upon revising the film’s script, the word “Christmas” is mentioned 18 times, more times than both words in the title combined. One of the film’s writers, Steven de Souza, is a firm believer that his movie is for the much-adored holiday, according to Digital Spy. He shared in an interview, “If Die Hard is not a Christmas movie, then White Christmas is not a Christmas movie.” Unlike the latter, he argued, his film features a Christmas party, is set entirely during Christmas, and even has a Christ-like sacrifice — John McClane walking on broken glass (digitalspy.com). What more could you want?

   Junior Brooke Hudson deeply agrees with those upholding the 1988 picture’s Christmas standing. She stressed that “The setting is during Christmas, at a Christmas party,” and argued that naysayers feel this way “…because it’s not a traditional Christmas movie. It’s about a guy stopping terrorists.”

   Those unconvinced that the film earns the Christmas tag argue it does not evoke “the Christmas feeling” that the likes of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation or A Christmas Story heavily run on. They may mention how it was released in July of 1988, rather than around the holiday season. Yet, to say that Die Hard does not fit the criteria is to limit the genre to the blandest of clichés. Can no action film be deemed merry based on this characteristic alone? Is our perception of Christmas truly limited to the most superficial of details? And does it matter more when a film is released than the time of the year we all watch it? Even then, the argument is a stretch, with the film’s setting and many holiday references proving its holly jolly status.

   Featuring exciting action sequences, creative uses of holiday accessories, and some of Hollywood’s most memorable Christmas lines (“I have a machine gun, ho ho ho” remains just as quotable to this day), Die Hard is not only one of the finest Christmas films out there, but a testament to the value of coloring outside of the lines. Having an overload of uplifting, joyful content to choose from, an action film that subverts our idea of what is representative of the Most Wonderful Time of the Year becomes a breath of fresh air.