How the Grinch Really Stole Christmas

We’ve all read the book or seen the story on T.V. before. A grouchy green-furred man has an irrational dislike of Christmas, and decides to take out his anger by completely stripping a population of ‘Whos’ from their holiday.

And why do the ‘Whos’ hate the Grinch? Because he hates Christmas. And why does the Grinch hate Christmas?

“The Grinch hated Christmas – the whole Christmas season. Now, please don’t ask why; no one quite knows the reason. It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight. Or it could be that his head wasn’t screwed on just right. But I think that the most likely reason of all… may have been that his heart was two sizes too small.”

Dr. Seuss books are known to hold underlying messages in their storylines: environmental awareness in The Lorax, combating racism in The Sneetches and Other Stories, and acknowledging isolationism in Horton Hears a Who. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a story that helps us think of Christmas season differently.

The message is that the holiday cannot exist without the material. Seuss (the writer) is Grinch Truesaying that if we object to buy-buy-buy mentality of the holiday, there is something “off” about us.

Perhaps something is off about Christmas. The holiday now comes with a Black Friday Death Count App, and we leave our family and friends on Thanksgiving to toil away in the quarry of consumerism. And so is The Grinch really so far off?

Grinch gives in to the Christmas effects at the end. As we tend to do. He realizes that Christmas doesn’t have to revolve around materialistic gift-exchanging, but finally sees the spirituality and community engagement the ‘Whos’ demonstrate.

The reasoning for Grinch’s behavior is justified as tight shoes or biological reasons (born with a small heart/born with a loose head). The Grinch really didn’t steal Christmas. He helped us to know that some things are just uncomfortable, sometimes our hearts and heads need to grow a bit and learn that it’s about the people, the stuff is just extra. And really… do we need all that extra?

Film Focus: Catching Fire

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, as Twitter, Facebook, and T.V. commercials have been telling you for the past week, but Catching Fire is out! If you haven’t seen it, it’s ok, because I won’t be spilling any spoilers. If you have seen it or, as most people like to claim, have read the book, feel free to offer your insight!

So we know the basic premise, which mirrors and extends the first story’s plot. A futuristic land with a capitol that controls 99% of the money and power over the 12 districts sends young adults into gladiator-style battles to the death for enjoyment and as a reminder that the districts are at the capitol’s mercy.

catching-fire-poster

What I’m interested in is a single line that is retold throughout this and the past movie. After a single person survives the Hunger Games, s/he is awarded by living in comfort back in their poverty-stricken district. That person is then forced to say towards the capitol numerous times: “Thank you, for the forgiveness and generosity of capitol.” Now what this makes me think about is when survivors of hurricane Katrina went on air via news channels and said, similarly: “thank you, America, for your compassion and generosity.” Or let’s take this transnationally, when America became the shining beacon of support for the earthquake survivors in Haiti, or the views America had towards the Tsunami survivors in the Philippines.

In these examples and in the Hunger Games storyline, there is depiction that the area with the power and resources graciously extend acts of compassion and mercy towards the otherwise victimized land already troubled with hardship. What is untold, however is that these areas are experiencing hardship largely due to neglect from said merciful lands. Centuries of history show that Louisiana and the surrounding area have been at risk for floods and hurricanes, and coincidentally this unsafe area is where there is much poverty. Is this a surprise, or have these underprivileged people (mostly of color) been forced to live where the rich care not to? When the earthquake struck in 2011 Haiti was known as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and relief efforts from the United Nations only perpetuate the mainstream idea: “oh those poor people! Oh but we’re here now, we’re such good people, we’ll save you,” when if we really wanted to make a difference, we would not have waited for an earthquake to motivate us. This nationalistic ego stroke was completely rejected by the Philippines earlier this year following the tsunami. President Obama tried to define the culture with a westernized concept: resilient. Numerous authors identified as Filipina/o resented the notation of bending but not breaking, as it within their culture that breaking occurs, but transformation follows.

Bringing this back to the topic of the Hunger Games, I find the storyline to be way ahead of its time (considering the books were written before the Occupy movements). There are many other social justice movements in the series, including: anti-war, feminism, economic inequality, disability, and anti-racism. If you have the chance to see it, read the book first, and then go! I give 4 out of 5 Snowcaps!