A Christmas Story

Ralphie visits Santa in A Christmas Story

Although I never owned a Red Rider BB gun and grew up in the 1970s rather than the 1940s, this film speaks to youthful Christmas joys and challenges like no other, and my family watches this classic every holiday season.

The film is an example of economic convergence because although it was produced by MGM/UA Entertainment,  Turner Entertainment acquired the rights to the film when Turner bought all of the rights to MGM/UA’s pre-1986 films.  With film costs of $4 million and a gross close to $20 million, the film was a moderate success initially.  It has since gone on to become a classic, at least in part due to television airings on Turner’s Superstation TBS, TNT, and TCM. The film gained such popularity that TBS began airing a 24-hour Christmas Story marathon on Christmas eve day in 1997, in addition to airing it periodically throughout December.  TBS reported 45.4 million viewers in 2005. Turner Entertainment became part of Time Warner when Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. merged with Time Warner in 1996.

The film is also an example of technological convergence as it has found expression across a variety of media.  The scriptwriter was Jean Shepherd, who gained fame as a radio personality on WOR-AM in New York in the 1950s, telling stories of his youth.  The script for A Christmas Story was based on several semi-autobiographical essays Shepherd had written about “Ralphie,” several of which had been published as well as presented in dramatic radio form, and some of which were in his novel, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash. Shepherd also provided the audio narration for the film.  Since 2000, an authorized stage play adaptation has been widely produced in the Christmas holiday season.

The film is also an example of cultural convergence.  It’s considered a classic film about a time in U.S. history, and companies such as Marriott have capitalized on its location in Hammond, Indiana by offering “A Christmas Story” packages to overseas tourists that include a visit to the A Christmas Story Comes Home exhibit at the Indiana Welcome Center “located right next door to the hotel.”  On New Year’s eve this year, my family had to stop the car to see a brightly lit reproduction of the leg lamp in the window of a house in Buffalo, New York.  Now I want to check the going rate for the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window to complete my cultural experience of A Christmas Story.

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