Yippee Ki-Yay: ‘Die Hard’ Is a Reminder That Christmas Isn’t Always as Advertised

Christmas is here and so is John McClane. Die Hard is arguably the most debated “Christmas movie” of all time. Let’s set the record straight: it is indeed a Christmas movie. This is not just the case because the film takes place on Christmas Eve; it’s also because it’s jam-packed with family values (McClane’s wife’s name is Holly), Christmas music, has its own Grinch (Hans Gruber, which is Danish for Santa Claus), and because John McClane and his circumstances are infinitely relatable to all those weary travelers just trying to make it through the mayhem and into the new year.

Die Hard is just one big metaphor for a Christmas party gone wrong. John McClane goes into it with the best of intentions; however, he gets dragged into a bunch of melodrama involving annoying supporting characters as well as financial and political quarrels. The subsequent blood, guns, and carnage are the manifestation of our greatest fears: uncle Scott forgetting to buy enough eggnog in the wake of your sister inviting her overtly douchey boyfriend. At some point, you just want it to be over; to go home, gather your wits and look forward to 364 Christmas-free days.

This is not to say Die Hard is a cautionary tale; quite the opposite. In the face of adversity, John McClane steps up. He does so with an optimistic attitude; hell, he even has fun. Sliding down the chimney (air ducts), John McClane is the Santa Claus we deserve—one who isn’t afraid to get dirty for us. Die Hard isn’t just a Christmas movie, it’s a call to arms: wade through dysfunction yelling, “yippee ki-yay!” So regardless of how awkward the family get-together becomes, or how awful the gifts are, remember John McClane. In honor of his sacrifice, we look back on the exploits of a man, who, if you ran into him in a terrorist-occupied building, would cordially say, “Welcome to the party, pal.”

Cover Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

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