Why Do All Holiday Movie Posters Look the Same?

Posted inDesign Criticism

The holidays are unmistakably about carrying on traditions, so whichever holiday you celebrate towards the end of the year, you’re probably celebrating and honoring some kind of tradition passed from generation to generation. And while this time often inspires a sense of lighthearted togetherness, there’s often an underlying feeling of dread or “blah-ness” that seems to fly under the radar, year after year.

I have a theory that this unexpressed societal anxiety is covertly reflected through the formulaic approach to holiday movies. Sure, this sounds far-fetched, but hear me out: change, money, and the stress of perfection are factors that absolutely lead to a feeling of anxiety. These are also all themes that arise during the holiday season, so by keeping something as lighthearted as rom-coms almost exactly the same, I believe this is media outlets’ way of trying to relieve the stress of the season.

In fact, they’re trying so hard to relieve people’s stressors that the formulaic approach has become enough of a copy & paste approach to the point of being visually offensive. While the thought might have been honest, the mark was wholly missed. And while I sincerely believe that the repetitive look was created for a reliable sense of comfort, it’s led to painfully stagnant, insultingly conservative posters.

First and foremost, the classic holiday rom-com poster design features a white heterosexual couple. It often portrays the man in green and the woman wearing red, with a title written in both a script and serif typeface and festive holiday lights sparkling in the background.

This design, for me, lacks character, charm, and creativity: something the holidays are theoretically about. So while I believe this formula was put together to try to ease the stressors of the holiday season, we end up wholly missing the uniquely charismatic look of classics like It’s a Wonderful Life or Love Actually.

Where’s the creative typography? The dramatic typography? Inventive fashion? It’s lacking and it’s oppressive.