Every holiday season, people around the world debate one major issue: Is Die Hard a Christmas movie? Earlier this month, we looked at the (woefully misinformed) pro-side of the debate. Now that we've come to our senses, it's time to atone for publishing that fake news with a long-overdue rebuttal.
Here are 7 reasons why 'Die Hard' is not a Christmas movie.
1. The setting is an overblown plot device
Those in favor of lumping 'Die Hard' with 'Scrooge' and 'Miracle on 34th Street' often say that it takes place on Christmas at a Christmas party, so it must be a Christmas movie. But that line of argument is putting way too much stock in a simple plot device.
To make 'Die Hard' work, the writer had to find a plausible way to get everyone working at Nakatomi Plaza in the office at the same time. Hans Gruber and his thugs couldn't risk going in there with guns blazing while management was off on a business lunch. And that timeframe also had to be outside of normal business hours because Gruber couldn't have hidden the hostage situation from the police as long as he did if clients, mail carriers, custodians and other people who wander in and out of offices every day kept interrupting the heist.
So the writer went with an evening Christmas party to get everyone in one room - especially spouses like John McClane. And a Christmas party is pretty much the only way to justify our hero being at Nakatomi Plaza in the first place. Admit it: the movie would be pretty ridiculous if the attempted robbery took place on a day when McClane just so happened to stop by his wife's office to sign divorce papers or some other ludicrous reason to bring him all the way from New York to LA for a day.
So 'Die Hard' isn't a Christmas movie; it's a movie that happens to be set at Christmas because that's the only time when the plot would be plausible. The party is really just a walk-in MacGuffin that brings all the characters together and creates the central conflict, but it's as meaningless as whatever's stashed in Marsellus Wallace's briefcase.
2. The book takes place at Christmas, so what?
I can already hear people shouting that 'Nothing Lasts Forever' - the novel that 'Die Hard' is based on - was also set at Christmas. On the one hand, that is absolutely true. But on the other hand, so what? Are you telling me that you follow up a yearly reading of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' with a festive recitation of 'Nothing Lasts Forever'? Of course not, because you want your kids dreaming of dancing sugarplums, not cops rappelling down elevator shafts and shooting up terrorists.
Saying 'Die Hard' is a Christmas movie just because there happens to be a few shoutouts to the holiday in the film is like saying every calendar is actually a really long, chocolate-free advent calendar because it also counts the days till Christmas.
3. The writer's intentions don't matter
Some think 'Die Hard' screenwriter Steven E. de Souza set the record straight in 2017 through a series of tweets that defended the status of 'Die Hard' as a Christmas movie. But De Souza also wrote 'Hudson Hawk,' 'Street Fighter' and the Sylvester Stallone version of 'Judge Dredd' among other cinematic travesties. So he doesn't have much credibility as a film critic.
4. There are no real Christmas carols in it
'Die Hard' must be a Christmas movie because it contains Christmas songs, right? Not so fast. The supposed carols in the movie aren't actually about Christmas at all.
'Let It Snow' doesn't mention a single thing about Christmas. No tree, no stockings, no Santa, no Jesus. Nothing. That's why the song was originally released in late January/Early February in 1946. Likewise, 'Winter Wonderland' wasn't written as a Christmas song either. And 'Jingle Bells' was originally penned as a Thanksgiving song. These tunes became associated with Christmas later on - just as 'Die Hard' became erroneously associated with the holiday over the years.
So the Bruce Willis flick isn't a Christmas movie: it's a case of history repeating itself.
5. 'Christmas in Hollis' doesn't count
While the traditional carols in 'Die Hard' aren't legit Christmas songs, there's no denying that Run DMC wrote 'Christmas in Hollis' with the titular holiday in mind. But anyone who thinks including the rap carol makes 'Die Hard' a Christmas movie obviously wasn't paying attention to the scene in which the song appeared in the film.
On the ride to Nakatomi Plaza, John McClane basically asks Argyle the limo driver to turn off that damn rap music and play something more traditional. So the main character in the film is saying Run DMC's carol isn't Christmassy enough to count as Christmas music, just as 'Die Hard' isn't Christmassy enough to share the yuletide spotlight with 'The Grinch,' 'It's a Wonderful Life' and other legit Christmas movies.
6. You can watch 'Die Hard' whenever you want
Regular movies can be watched year-round while Christmas movies have an annual best-before date. Throw on 'Die Hard' in July and nobody will think twice about it. But watching 'Elf' in April is about as weird as chugging egg nog on Spring Break.
7. Bruce Willis says so
Forget the opinions of the screenwriter and novelist behind 'Die Hard.' The only person whose opinion really matters on the subject is Bruce Willis, whose outstanding performance as the wisecracking hero cop is the only reason we're still talking about 'Die Hard' 30 years after its release. Early this summer, Willis weighed in on the Christmas movie debate and settled it once and for all by saying, "'Die Hard' isn't a Christmas movie. It's a goddamn Bruce Willis movie.
So if John McClane himself says it isn't a Christmas movie, then it isn't a Christmas movie. Case closed.