It's finally (almost) sweater weather in North Texas. The smell of autumn permeates the air, and I've dusted off my tall boots--the ones that look great with my skinny(ish) jeans. It is in this weird time of year where people start celebrating the holidays before Halloween has yet arrived, that one of my new favorite pastimes is quickly approaching. My guiltiest pleasure, close behind my love of all things Ricky Martin and my annual secret Twilight movie marathon...the Hallmark Christmas movie countdown.
You see, as a very low-maintenance mother of four boys, about the girliest thing I do besides applying mascara frantically in my car visor mirror before work, is spend my evenings and weekends devouring Hallmark movies. I am admittedly late to the game--I just discovered them last Christmas, which is why they aren't higher on my guilty pleasure list. I had decided to spend my time over the holidays working diligently in my newly-decorated home office, but instead found myself glued to my bedroom working from my laptop so I wouldn't miss a minute of these wholesome, feel-good treasures. I began to worry about how I would ever spend my free time (excuse me, I just laughed out loud) once the holidays were over and the Christmas movies would disappear. But, to my great surprise--they didn't. I was relieved to find out that Hallmark celebrates every holiday and season with a set of corresponding movies so the fun can last all year. First Winter Wonderland, then Valentine's, and Spring Extravaganza, onto Easter, and Summer, and Harvest--and even taking a quick detour for Christmas in July. My DVR has been full to busting with the four or five variations of these movies, and even though I know exactly how the plot will fall, I enjoy every warm fuzzy minute.
And now I've come full-circle--anticipating the premiere of an entire cartload of Christmas movies from now until Neverland. And though I've got my movies carefully planed and recorded, I must admit, I have one secret, deep dark yearning that only Hallmark can repair. And though I hate to ask, daring to mess with the winning formula they've so expertly crafted...it is almost Christmas after all. If you peek at my list to Santa, somewhere near the top (again, coming in third--right after a Cricut printer and copious amounts of wine), is to see a Hallmark movie that features a black actress.
There. I've said it. The secret is out. Hallmark movies are whiter than a ceramic mug of rice in a snowstorm.
That being said...I still LOVE them. I can't help myself. I watch them all year long even at the risk of my black card. And I wish that it was enough---if only it could be true that we don't "see" color. But in this case, we don't. We don't see any color at all. Yes, I know there is often a black friend who plays a bit role, but I can't help but thrill at the thought of the main character--the feisty woman returning home after the crushing loss of some long-held dream, who finds love again with an ex who is now a celebrity, or a Prince, or even Santa himself, while turning the cabin they inherited together into a bed and breakfast that she uses to find the solitude she needs to finish her book--as a (gasp) proud black woman. I know, crazy right?
My friends wouldn't understand my longing, they see the movies perfect as they are. And they are nearly right. But I can't help wanting to see even the smallest representation of myself on that Hallmark screen. To give myself the courage to believe that even I could one day turn an abandoned horse stable into a thriving cupcake establishment--nay, a chain of cupcake establishments. I remember seeing two different movies that featured a black actress, and BOTH times the actress played a white woman. No joke. They even gave her a white sister and mother to have coffee with several times, to make sure to drive home the point that in that particular movie, that woman was white. I was disappointed, to say the least.
I am sure Hallmark has studied their audience, and probably feels that they don't have enough secret black viewers binge watching their movies. But if I know my people, and if the Black Panther movie has taught us anything, let it be that if they were to put one of us on this silver screen, we would show up in droves--crowded around our televisions wearing the tribal print headwear of our ancestors.
Don't underestimate the fervor of any group yearning for representation.
I don't want to mess with this holiday tradition. I don't expect Hallmark to fill their lineup with black or even (gasp) mixed-race couples. But could one really hurt? Oh, and don't try to trick me with throwing one half-hearted, non-publicized effort out there just to placate the masses. Let us know exactly when it will be on. Tell us about the story. Give it your all. Build it, and we will come. Well, at least I will. And then, if nothing else, you can fulfill the Christmas wish of one tired, busy, entertainment-starved yet hopeful mother. And if you can save just one, isn't it all worth it in the end? No? Well, in the meantime, I'm printing off the movie list so I don't miss a single, White Christmas minute. And I've included a link to the PDF if you want to print the official list too. Get the program here.
Merry Christmas (just kidding, it's only Halloween)!