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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

11/27/23 pdf
November 27, 2023

Where are all the Thanksgiving movies?

The Halloween movies are packed away for the season, and it’s a little too early to break out the Christmas flicks—for some people, at least. There’s only so many times that people can handle “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” It’s pretty difficult to get into the Thanksgiving spirit, which begs the question: Where are all of the Thanksgiving movies? What makes this humble fall holiday so overshadowed? What’s going on in the film industry?

Thanksgiving is a major celebratory outlier for one reason alone: It doesn’t have a mascot to its name. Sure, there are turkeys and pilgrims, but neither of those fit perfectly. It’s hard to show happy turkeys on a holiday dedicated to eating them, and depictions of pilgrims and Native Americans are inaccurate at best and horribly racist at worst. 

Christmas has Santa Claus and his elves; Easter has its fabled bunny; Halloween has so many mascots that it’s hard to count them all. Thanksgiving doesn’t have anything going for it, which makes it hard for companies to attach an image to the holiday. There’s not much for them to market.

There’s also the issue of plot. There’s a vague story surrounding other holidays, a legend that children can follow. Thanksgiving does have an overarching story about Native Americans and pilgrims, but in recent years that storyline has become less and less prevalent in the media. 

As more of the public learns about the truth behind those stories and the horrific fates of the Indigenous populations, they aren’t as eager to tell the tale of everyone getting along just fine and dandy. It’s an outdated and biased story that isn’t told as frequently today as it used to be; overall, this leaves Thanksgiving completely plotless. 

Other holidays also have traditions surrounding them. Kids run around to collect candy on Halloween, they leave cookies and milk out for Santa to take before he gives them their presents, and they scramble around the yard trying to find Easter eggs to crack open. Each holiday has its own set of activities that set them apart from the others, and they’re usually always fun for children. Thanksgiving is different in that it’s not a lot of fun. 

There isn’t a lot for kids to look forward to on Thanksgiving. They’re not getting any candy or presents, and they don’t have festive decorations. The closest thing they have is going to see family for Thanksgiving dinner, but that’s not always fun for kids. It can be awkward, boring and full of foods that they haven’t learned to like yet. There’s nowhere near as much excitement surrounding Thanksgiving as there is for other holidays. 

This brings back the movie discussion. Thanksgiving has no mascots, no plot, no traditions and no fun. This makes the demand for movies extremely low. There’s absolutely nothing to market, nothing to keep kids’ attention. Not to mention, Thanksgiving is an American holiday, so it eliminates the international market. 

This doesn’t mean they’re completely extinct, of course. Thanksgiving movies do exist, but they’re few and far between, and they often don’t succeed at the box office. Children don’t follow them as religiously as they do other animated movies, and there isn’t much about them that’s memorable. 

The great thing about other holiday movies is that they can take tradition and combine it with modern traits, creating unique and contemporary concepts that leave an impact on an audience. Film studios don’t have this luxury with Thanksgiving, so creating a movie around the holiday would likely be a waste of time and money compared to creating a movie around a different one. 

Perhaps this is why Christmas keeps coming earlier and earlier each year. There’s nothing to look forward to when it comes to Thanksgiving, so the public turns to a holiday that’s much more mainstream. And perhaps it’s for the best to let the kids get excited. They need it.