This Is How 'A Christmas Story Live!' Handled That Controversial Scene From The Original

"Deck the Halls" indeed.

It's no secret that 1983's A Christmas Story is one of the most beloved holiday movies of all time, so last night's A Christmas Story Live! on Fox was a spectacle for the holiday season. The best part about seeing this classic come to life before our very eyes? The fact that they took the original and weren't afraid to make changes to it that, overall, made it more sensitive to everyone.


The 1983 film had an almost entirely White cast but this live version added a bit of diversity into the mix by featuring actors and actresses of color. Beyond that, though, they also brought 1940s Indiana — the setting of the story — into the 21st century by taking a controversial scene that played up Asian stereotypes and made it more authentic while being respectful to other cultures at the same time.

The scene in question takes place on Christmas at a Chinese restaurant — owned by Ken Jeong in this iteration — toward the end of the production. Ralphie's family comes to eat and, while there, waiters sing "Deck the Halls." The only problem is that in the original they sing it as "Fa ra ra ra ra," playing up an accent portrayed by problematic characters, such as Long Duck Dong in 1984's Sixteen Candles and Mr. Yunioshi in 1961's Breakfast at Tiffany's.

To update this to a more "woke" audience, the Alex Rudzinski-directed live version ditched the mispronunciation all together and had a real-life acapella group, a quintet of Filipino singers known as Filharmonic, sing the song correctly as "Fa la la la la" — and does so quite flawlessly, we might add.

Jeong told Vulture that he gave input as to how the production could still include scenes from the original film in the live production but do so in a better way. One contribution he made to the show was, after the waiters finish singing "Deck the Halls," one character says they weren't expecting that. Jeong's character, without missing a beat, responds: "What were you expecting?"

"We wanted to do something that realistically felt like it took place in the 1940s, but also asked, what if this was a progressive town?" Jeong said. "We talked about how my character was working two jobs — as tree salesman and in a restaurant — but he's very assimilated. He has three sons, he's very progressive and hardworking. He's very American. So, it wasn't about transplanting a 2017 Asian-American into the 1940s; it was about creating a new world in which this could all actually happen."

This just goes to show that you can be respectful to other cultures while preserving all the things that make older works great — and, just maybe, you can even improve upon them.

Listen to Filharmonic sing "Deck the Halls" on their YouTube channel here:

Cover image via Ray Mickshaw / FOX


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