It would readily apparent by now that I really love Christmas, and by extension that I really love decorating my Christmas tree which takes pride of pop culture ornament-accented place in my lounge room every year.
Granted, it’s almost 20 years old and is looking a little old and creaky in places (aren’t we all? *insert “Dad Joke” boom-tish sound effects here at will*) but throw on some lights (now in a blessedly hassle-free single strand), some vivacious red thick red tinsel and enough ornaments to carpet a few hundred trees (at least that’s how it feels at times; okay, ALL the time) and it looks freaking spectacular.
Now, I have enough pre-existing ornaments to weigh the tree so much it is in real danger, even though they’re made of plastic, of plunging through the floor – watch out, neighbour, Christmas is literally coming through! – but, of course, I always have to buy more because there are always new and enticing pop culture ornaments and I am nothing if not a creature of the new and pretty (even though I very sentimentally appreciate what I already have).
So, this year despite my partner suggesting I stick to two new ones, I have purchased, ahem 20 (blame it on a terrible year which included my Mum tragically dying for buying ornaments feeling a better option than embracing the bare surrounds of reality) which has necessitated not one but two posts on my ornaments.
You’re welcome … now help yourself to some eggnog and sit back and relax.
Whether you’re a fan of the original Disney animated version (1992) or its live-action 2019 remake, the fact there is a lot to love about a story of a character who rises up to meet his dreams, with the help of a wise-cracking genie (blue or otherwise) and finding that wish fulfillment may come with more than a few complications. Throw in some fun musical tracks, enchanting secondary characters and vivacious dialogue and you have a story which uplifts, entertains and make the impossible (with lessons learned well in hand) seem all quite possible.
(2) BING BONG (Inside Out)
What a memorable and heart-rendingly affecting character. Encapsulating the wonders of imagination that fill many a child’s world, Bing Bong is the discarded imaginary friend that Joy and Sadness discover in the deepest recesses of Riley’s multi-faceted, endlessly-colourful internal world and who proves key to them returning home to Headquarters though it comes at great cost. He is without a doubt the beating heart in many ways of this film and it’s near impossible not to be deeply-moved when he tells Joy, when they must say goodbye, “Take her to the moon for me, okay?”
Ziggy has been with me for most of my life. A comic strip character created by Tom Wilson (his son Tom Wilson II now draws the strip) who first the light of inky newspaper day in 1968, though he only entered syndication in 1971, Ziggy is “diminutive, bald, barefoot, almost featureless character (save for his large nose)”, a person trapped in the many absurdities of life, especially in the office, to great comic effect. It’s this very everyman-ness and the way in which Ziggy handles it that make him deeply relatable and which has long earned him a place in my heart.
Yes, I have many a Star Wars ornament already but how can you not buy an ornament which has our favourite two droids ever – sorry every other robot ever, including yes, you, Robot from Lost in Space the original but it’s true – but who dismiss these two 1977-debuting Laurel and Hardy-esque galaxy far, far away pals bedecked in a festive hat (C-3PO) and sparkling Christmas lights (R2-D2) with a present between them on a snowy ground. Not this longtime fan, thank you …
(5) WONDER WOMAN
Created by Debuting in All Star Comics #8 in October 1941, Wonder Woman, known as Princess Diana of Themyscira, Daughter of Hippolyta aka Diana Prince, and I go way back (though not as far as her birth year, thank you very much). My first memories of her stem from the gloriously kitschy but wonderfully escapist 1970s TV series in which a noble and goodhearted and eminently strong and capable Wonder Woman would transform into her true superhero with some impressive twirling, ready to save the world from itself once again. (The ornament is from the 2017 film which was an impressively nuanced and immersively captivating piece of filmmaking.)
(6) DUCKY AND BUNNY (Toy Story 4)
As feisty and hilariously wisecracking as they come, these two buddies (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) who are literally joined at the hip thanks to some fearsomely-good stitching which survives all kinds of adventuring through the heartfelt joy which is Toy Story 4, are the best new Pixar characters ever (save for Forky, naturally). Prizes in a game called Star Adventure at a carnival where the toys of Andy’s, now Bonnie’s toyroom find themselves, they are key to Woody effecting, with the help of Buzz Lightyear, Hamm and the others, the film’s poignant ending, their quips and oneliners leavening out some intensely action and emotionally-heavy scenes.
A character in Little Golden Books (LGBs), which were instrumental in me going down a lifelong path of reading which continues happily to this day, Scuffy came from the minds of writer Gertrude Crampton and illustrator by Tibor Gergely and was first published in 1946. While I had many LGBs, it’s the one starring the tugboat who dreamed big, got his wishes and then decided he liked being home in the once-restrictive bathtub all along that made its way into my heart and never really left.
A star protagonist, like Aladdin, of not one but two Disney films – an animated one released in 1941 and a live-action one that hit theatres in 2019 – Dumbo is ridiculously sweet and adorable. How could you not love him? A LOT. Not simply because of his close and sundered relationship with his mum Mrs Jumbo or his unmissable, flying-enabling floppy ears but because of his gorgeously trusting nature which remains intact even as he comes to understand what he must do to protect and look after himself.
(9) COMMANDER SARU AND MICHAEL BURNHAM
(Star Trek: Discovery)
There is a lot to love about the latest Star Trek show to hit the airwaves (or, more accurately, the streaming platforms). It’s bold, upsets the franchise’s status quo, looks visually stunning, possesses muscular, emotionally-intelligent and stars a number of brilliantly well-realised characters including the protagonist Michael Burnham, played by Sonequa Martin-Green and Commander Saru, played by Doug Jones, who are close friends, a relationship which is one of the key emotional touchstones of the series which is happily heading into a third series in 2020.
(10) MARC ANTONY AND PUSSYFOOT (Looney Tunes)
Now this is what friendship is, my friends! Appearing in five Looney Tunes shorts including “Feed the Kitty”, “Feline Frame-Up”, and “Kiss Me Cat”, and are sometimes known as Marc Anthony and Kitty or Cleo, these two buddies are a delightful twosome who are devoted to each other, their love and companionship adding some real emotional heft to some hilariously enjoyable adventures.