My favorite film genre? Christmas movies. All of them. Funny, nostalgic, classic, and, most of all, romantic Christmas movies. I have zero shame in admitting I am a sucker for all things Christmas romance. (Internalized misogyny? I don’t know her.) The more ridiculous the premise, the better. The family tree farm is in dire financial straits? Sign me up. A rich heiress with amnesia finds love with a handsome stranger? I’ll bring the popcorn.
What I don’t love about romantic Christmas movies is when everyone dumps on the premise of a heroine leaving her “big city” life for a small-town love story. It drives me nuts. Let these women live, OK?
First and foremost, I will say I don’t care for the way cities are essentially demonized as a cold pit of corporate greed in these movies. Maybe it’s a valid critique in some ways, but cities are also the heart and soul of diversity, culture and accessibility in ways the suburbs and more rural areas never will be—and it’s very important that we acknowledge that.
That being said, the small towns in these movies are, for the most part, utterly unrealistic in the best way. If you grew up in an American small town, chances are it didn’t look very Hallmark-y. Some do, sure. Many, like my own, do not. Especially if you grew up in a poor small town.
But the Christmas romance movie small town? Now that is what dreams are made of. They’re gorgeous, they’re festive, everyone is happy to drop absolutely everything for a cookie-baking contest at any given time, and climate change doesn’t exist in these little havens of perfection because snow is absolutely guaranteed every December. As Liz Lemon says, “I want to go to there.”
So why is it so unrealistic—or, as many are quick to criticize—anti-feminist for a successful career woman to leave her corporate life behind in favor of a picturesque village and a hunky lumberjack who worships the ground she walks on? She can support herself, thankyouverymuch, and she chooses to do it in a town that looks like a modern version of Pleasantville and Whoville combined.
I’m a feminist to my core. Always have been, always will be. And you know what? If given the choice, I probably wouldn’t choose a lifetime of fluorescent lighting, being condescended to in meetings by my male peers, a long commute, and making rich people richer. Been there, done that.
Nope, I would gladly work in a bookstore in a town called Wintergreen where a rugged ranch owner (who also shares my feminist and social justice values and was not, say, anywhere near the Capitol on January 6th 2021, of course) pops in for a book rec and a latte after doing…whatever it is ranch owners in Winterville (oops, Wintergreen) do.
Big city corporate life does not automatically equal feminism. Feminism looks like a lot of things: dismantling capitalism/the patriarchy/racism instead of upholding all of it, frankly, is about as feminist as it gets (bell hooks’ works make great Christmas gifts, just saying). That’s not to say every woman should give up their big-city corporate life—we’ve all gotta pay the bills, after all.
I’m just saying we don’t need to shame the heroines who choose to give up their old life for a new one. In Wintergreen. With endless cookies, carols, festive decor, and, presumably, quality intimate time with Hudson, the handsome lumberjack rancher.