A Christmas Story: The Story of American Christmas Traditions and the Twenty First Century Public

This thesis analyzes the history of the secular and religious aspects American Christmas, the 1983 film A Christmas Story, and contextual clues with an eye toward consumerism and the twenty-first century. Unveiled is how consumerism is a tool of the hidden American aristocracy designed to keep the working class in their place. With an eye toward American Studies and Marxist themes, I examine and explain how the film fulfills the American Dream. By identifying how the ideology of the film and in turn underlying push for consumerism, promotes and supports the socioeconomic system and power structure in which it plays a significant role. Repeated exposure to A Christmas Story and the emergence of it as a cult phenomenon and now cultural tradition has influenced twenty-first century consumerism. Examined in this thesis is the top 1%, particularly the top 25 riches families in America, top 20 richest individuals in America, and the early months of the presidency of Donald Trump. Through examinations of how the religious and secular traditions have made their way from Mesopotamia to America; Christmas’s the cult of domesticity; St. Nicholas; Clemente Clark Moore poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas;” the influence in America of British writer Charles Dickens; the popularity of the Christmas tree and evergreens for decorations; celebrations during wartime; Virginia O’Hanlon’s letter to the editor; the rise of the modern Santa Claus, his image in the media and his eventual use as a marketing tool; the use of Rudolph as a marketing tool by Montgomery Ward’s Department Store; how twentieth century’s battles for social change affected the landscape of the season; and how it all worked together to become uniquely American experience. By establishing these as pieces of American Christmas traditions, I show how the film A Christmas Story appeals to all of these desires. This will show how the film is able to feed into the push for American consumerism that comes like clockwork to end of each calendar year and how the underlying themes of the film present a different narrative that can be used to predict economic, social and political changes.

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