(Originally published in OC WEEKLY, December 22, 2005)
Thanks to his rants about the so-called “War on Christmas,” Bill O’Reilly’s recently enjoyed more attention than he’s seen since his falafel fetish became front-page news. In the World According to Bill, the phrase “happy holidays” is part of a “secular progressive agenda” that includes “legalization of narcotics, euthanasia, abortion at will (and) gay marriage.” If only! Actually, the reason people say “happy holidays” in December is because there’s more than one holiday this month. (Seriously; look it up, Bill.) Below you’ll find recommendations for holiday fare for those of us who don’t worship Santa.
The Hebrew Hammer Jonathan Kesselman’s “Jewsploitation” comedy epic stars Adam Goldberg as a Shaft-like, Certified (and circumsized) Dick who goes up against Damian Claus (Andy Dick), Santa’s evil son who is bent on eradicating Hanukkah and forcing the world to celebrate only Christmas. Hmm. Maybe we should sic the Hebrew Hammer on O’Reilly.
Eight Crazy Nights The critics despised Adam Sandler’s gross-out, animated Hanukkah comedy, and rightly so. But still, this thing is so magically, tragically wrong that you haven’t lived a full life unless you’ve seen it once. A reviewer on Eye.net summed it up beautifully: “You couldn’t make a worse Hanukkah movie if the Pope starred in it.”
Chanuka at Bubbe’s One for the young’uns, this 2000 video features a cast of puppets and follows a sweet Jewish grandmother (or Bubbe) as she explains the holiday to her visiting grandchildren. The whole thing is so adorable that goyim will wish they could be Jewish just to have a Jewish grandma of their own.
The Wicker Man (NOTE: This article was published well before the release of the 2006 remake) Pagans are, as you might imagine, a bit touchy about being constantly depicted as murderous weirdos in the media, and they’re bitterly divided about this 1973 horror movie. On the one hand, the filmmakers clearly did their homework, and the film is very informative about pagan beliefs. On the other hand, the film gets a lot of the details wrong and pagans are depicted once again as murderous weirdos. Still, screen this thing for your Solstice get-together, and I can guarantee your holiday celebrations will be a hell of a lot more fun than O’Reilly’s.
The Message Moustapha Akkad’s 1976 biopic chronicles the life of Muhammed, but gets around the Muslim tradition of never showing Muhammed’s face by having Muhammed’s uncle (Anthony Quinn) constantly address the camera as if it is Muhammed, occasionally nodding in response to the unheard but presumably sage observations of the Prophet. Celebrate the end of Ramadan’s fast with this well-intentioned but utterly peculiar epic.
Harambee The late Howard Rollins stars in this one-hour, made-for-TV comic drama about a family in a Brooklyn housing project celebrating their first Kwanzaa. Apparently this earnest but sweet little movie has screened at so many Kwanzaa events that anybody who would want to see it probably already has, and a few times too often. Still, it’s pretty much either this or Rugrats Kwanzaa.
Seinfeld, season 9: “The Strike” Learn about Festivus from the holiday’s scrappy founder, Frank Costanza (Jerry Stiller) and witness his hapless son George (Jason Alexander) being subjected to such traditions as the Airing of Grievances—in which family members share their mutual hostilities—and the humiliating Feats of Strength, in which George is forced to wrestle his father to the ground. Some of you have probably been celebrating Festivus all your lives—you just thought it was Christmas.