For many, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a beloved holiday classic. The Griswold family — Clark, Ellen, Rusty, whoever Juliette Lewis plays — is welcomed into our homes each Christmas like they’re our own flesh and blood. Christmas Vacation director Jeremiah Chechik would have you believe that Clark, the Griswold patriarch, is a quintessential Rockwellian family man, a lovable dad and husband who wants nothing more than to spend the perfect Christmas with his loved ones.
It’s bullshit. Clark Griswold is a lunatic, a narcissistic sociopath whose criminal conduct and obsessive single-mindedness endangers the well-being of everyone he supposedly holds dear. He is an unparalleled public menace. If someone actually behaved like this, they would be taken into custody and remanded to a psych ward for decades.
Don’t believe me? Understandable. Just review the evidence assembled below with an open mind.
Let’s see how Clark begins his quest for the picture-perfect Christmas. Oh, by flipping off a pair of salt-of-the-earth, blue-collar Americans and then nearly killing his entire family with his reckless driving.
Later, Clark decides to shop for gifts. Admirable, especially after his horrific motor vehicle operation resulted in a near-death experience. Rather than dedicate time to finding the perfect gift for his inexplicably loyal wife, Clark decides to sexually harass minimum wage retail employees in front of his son instead.
Clark is a dangerous, property-destroying buffoon at best:
And a domestic terrorist at worst:
Add selfish to Clark’s Bible-length list of character flaws. His garish, injury-causing exterior lighting drains an entire town’s power supply in the middle of winter. How many elderly Chicagoans froze to death the week before Christmas just so Clark Griswold could realize his juvenile holiday fantasy? The energy company had to activate a goddamn auxiliary nuclear reactor just to satisfy your power demands, Pisswold. Your tiny municipality isn’t equipped to safely dispose of spent fuel rods over the holidays. What are they supposed to with all that radioactive waste?
Oh! Maybe they can chuck it into the sewer grate outside Clark’s house. Doubt he’ll give a fuck. Dump some poison into the water supply, who cares? After all, he doesn’t lift one goddamn finger when he notices his brother unloading a full chemical toilet into the wastewater system.
This gross abdication of societal responsibly later causes a dangerous explosion that leaves a septuagenarian with third-degree burns on his head.
Dissatisfied with merely maiming his own family over the holidays, Clark irresponsibly applies an untested zero-viscosity polymer to a 99 cent metal sled because he gives zero-viscosity fucks about the health and wellness of his fellow citizens. This is such an blatantly stupid move that Cousin Eddie — a brain-damaged sock puppet in human form — begs off trying it himself. Cousin Eddie is the smartest person in this movie. To wit:
That’s a school bus he cuts off at 80 mph. A school bus no doubt filled with disabled children on their way back from volunteering at a soup kitchen just days before Christmas. The driver’s calm, steely reaction to an utter moron darting into nighttime traffic is only reason the highway isn’t littered with children’s bodies.
Perhaps the sledding debacle was an isolated incident. Fine. Let’s see how Clark deals with a harmless squirrel entering the house. Does he take charge and solve the problem for his family?
Yes! No, he forearm-shivers an old lady in the spine to ensure his own safety like he was filming a Force Majure remake.
The personal failures eventually become too much for Clark to handle. When poor workplace performance results in a laughable fruit-based Christmas bonus, Clark unleashes a petulant, profanity-laced rant rather than take responsibility for his actions.
His outburst seems like a spontaneous release of tension. Upon closer inspection, however, the diatribe doubles as subliminal instructions for Eddie. Go to my boss’ home. Snatch him from his bed. Bring him here. Of course, his boss’ wife calls the police, who must then respond to what they believe is a dangerous hostage situation on Christmas Eve. Their children and spouses must be thrilled.
Clark is fortunate he lives in suburban cul-de-sac land. If his name was Cl’arkshaun Griswold, and his 19 relatives kidnapped a white executive on Christmas Eve, slapped a bow on his head, and stashed him in a Southside Chiraq rowhouse, the cops would light everyone in the place up like a church nativity scene.
Fortunately, the movie ends with the Griswold family alive and smiling despite Clark’s best efforts. Law enforcement officials and kidnapping victims join hands with their abductors to sing Christmas carols because holiday magic. Also because Stockholm Syndrome is real.
There you have it, folks: indisputable evidence that Clark Griswold is a brontosaurs-sized pile of shit. Next year, avoid this filth and choose a more wholesome holiday entertainment option…like A Christmas Story, which features a central character who nurtures an unhealthy firearms obsession and beats the face off a 10-year old boy.
Actually, just watch Bad Santa. Probably safer.