Christmas movies are all about presents, togetherness and, maybe, comically knocking the tree over onto grandma.

And, of course, class warfare …

“It’s a Wonderful Life” – Beloved holiday classic it may be, but this 1946 Frank Capra film is basically a microcosm of the current financial crisis and the way the 99 percent can band together to overcome it.

Seriously, evil old miser Mr. Potter is the epitome of the 1 percent – through his monopolistic bank, he’s essentially issuing sub-prime home loans to first-generation immigrants (whom the bigoted Potter refers to as “garlic eaters”), who become hopelessly indebted to him and whom he evicts on Christmas Eve, even. George Bailey’s Building and Loan is a credit union, using local capital to help people build their own homes, and George gives up his own dreams to do it.

When poor, dumb Uncle Billy inadvertently gives Potter the upper hand by losing the B&L’s deposit, George (after a horrifying, angel-induced vision of what a Potter-owned Bedford Falls would become), is bailed out by the very same townsfolk he’s been helping all along. Potter’s greed leaves him rich but alone, while George and the whole town pool their meager money together and sing Christmas carols.

Even the bank examiner (a government employee!) joins in, essentially neglecting to prosecute a guy who, for all he knows, stole the deposit, so moved is he by the whole town’s economic civil disobedience.

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” – This perennial Christmas TV classic’s theme is so blatantly anti-capitalist that I’m surprised Fox News doesn’t lump it in with the new Muppet movie as socialist propaganda.

The whole special is about Charlie Brown being utterly dispirited by the massive commercialization of the holiday – nobody will take his Christmas pageant seriously, the kids demand he get a horrible prefabricated metal tree, and even his dog thinks the whole point is to win a contest by garishly decorating his doghouse.

It takes Charlie’s dogged love of a misfit real tree to remind everyone that it’s not the commercialism that’s important. And if Linus’ speech is a little church-y for the likes of me, its message does help point out that Jesus’ whole deal was not about accumulating wealth.

“The Muppet Christmas Carol” – Obviously, the Scrooge tale is one long “don’t be a horrible, stingy, mean jerk or you’re gonna get the bejeezus haunted out of you” lesson.

But it’s his quote, when told that the social services-bereft poor would rather die than go to the poorhouse (“If they’d rather die, then they had better do it and decrease the surplus population”) that sounds eerily familiar from current GOP debates and, dare I say, a certain governor. (I chose the Muppets to infuriate Fox, and because Michael Caine is my favorite Scrooge, so sue me.)

“Miracle on 34th St.” – You know the scene when Edmund Gwenn’s department-store Santa, defying Macy’s orders to steer parents toward their expensive toys, tells harried mom Thelma Ritter to go to another store because they have a better deal? And then he’s declared criminally insane? Yeah, capitalism hates Santa Claus. 

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer based in Portland.


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