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Film / A Diva's Christmas Carol

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Yep, another retelling of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, only this time Scrooge is a diva singer and a Black woman. Almost all of the genders have been swapped for the characters. Premiering on VH1 in 2000, it stars Vanessa L. Williams, Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas and Kathy Griffin.

A Diva's Christmas Carol provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Alpha Bitch: As is often the case with gender-flipped Christmas Carol adaptations, Ebony Scrooge is this—she's pushy, demanding, bossy, unreasonable, greedy, and entirely self-centered.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: After Ebony's redemption, we briefly see Marli manifest at her concert... only now her clothes are white and the chains on them are gone, implying that her role in saving Ebony has also saved her own soul. She smiles at her old bandmates before turning into white light and flying upward, suggesting that she has made it to Heaven.
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  • Adaptation Personality Change: In the book, it is Belle who breaks up with Scrooge because of his obsession with money and furthering his career, but in the film it is Ebony (the Scrooge counterpart) who breaks up with Bob (Belle counterpart) in order to focus more on her career.
  • Adapted Out: Played with. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come does not show up as a physical manifestation, but rather as a future episode of Behind the Music.
  • A Lady on Each Arm: How the Ghost of Christmas Present is introduced, although he has three (one of which on his leg).
  • Alcoholic Parent: Ebony and Ronnie's estranged father.
  • Amicable Exes: Ebony initially doesn't want Bob to leave work to be with his family, and it hurts him. Still, despite their ongoing business relationship and his finding a new love, Ebony continues to think of Bob as one of his best friends years after they break up.
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  • As Himself: Brian McKnight and Nile Rodgers.
  • Babies Ever After: Olivia and her husband are the proud parents of a beautiful baby girl by the end of the film.
  • Back from the Dead: Marli.
  • Benevolent Boss: Par for the course with the redeemed Ebony, only since she has a much larger entourage than Bob, we get to see it in fuller force—she buys up every ticket to her own concert that she can and passes them out to her crew, telling them to invite their families to visit (and promising that she'll pay for their travel, too), then calls in a favor with Wolfgang Puck himself to get a massive catered feast before the show, personally serving them. She also flies Kelly and Tim to New York and arranges for him to be admitted to the best hospital in the city, swearing that she'll finance his recovery no matter what.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Ebony says one when she sees her Behind the Music episode that showcases her death.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Ebony's "trusted" financial advisor, Ernie.
  • Break the Haughty: Since Ebony became a conceited bitch along with the typical Scrooge's crankiness and miserliness, this version qualifies.
  • Broken Pedestal: Patrice was a fan of Ebony and Desire as a child, but comes to find out her true nature. That being said, though, she isn’t as hardened as her coworkers and even is still a fan of her music regardless of her poor treatment of her and others.
  • Career Versus Man: In the past, Bob and Ebony have a fight about the latter prefers success over love, so even though he genuinely loved her, they broke up due to her career coming first.
  • Catchphrase: "You're fired!"
  • Coincidental Broadcast: Lampshaded in the beginning, when Ebony's crew is talking about her career and her old group's music video just so happens to air on tv.
    "No way! How's that for timing?"
  • Comically Missing the Point: This happens to The Ghost of Christmas Past (played by Kathy Griffin).
    Ebony: You skinny bitch.
    The Ghost of Christmas Past: [gasps] Did you say 'skinny'?
  • Composite Character: Bob Cratchitt is able to take on his traditional role and the "First Love That Got Away" role Belle had in the original story. This is due to both Gender Flipping and Ebony being relatively young for an analogue to Ebenezer Scrooge.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Ebony's grandmother is the one who calls Child Services to transport her and her brother into foster care, as she's too old to look after them herself and realizes that their father is a dangerously abusive alcoholic. It clearly breaks her heart to do it, but she has no other choice.
  • Curse Cut Short: Ebony tells room service she wants her pasta al dente, and not soggy.
    Ebony: No, if it's soggy, I'm coming down there and I'm shoving it up your—[grandfather clock chiming]
    • And a little later after seeing Marli and thinking she was hallucinating:
    Ebony: That Pharmalain's some powerful sh...[passes out]
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Poor Ebony. She had an abusive and alcoholic father, an absent (and most likely dead) mother, she was taken into foster care away from her beloved older brother on Christmas Day, she reunites with him only to lose him to a brain aneurysm some years later and she pushes away the only man who ever loved her due to her working very hard to secure her success.
  • Dead Artists Are Better: Played for Laughs in this instance:
    Nile Rodgers: She's worth ten times more dead than she was alive.
    Ebony: [outraged] Ten times?!
    Nile Rodgers: Make that 20! [chuckles]
    Ebony: I’ll have your head for this!
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: After being shown the error of her ways (and her terrifying future forecast), she grows friendlier and more loving.
  • Determinator: Olivia, arguably. Her Dad is dead, we don't know the fate of her mother and her only biological family member initially wants nothing to do with her. At least she has a loving husband, close friends who are like family and a baby girl by the end of the film.
    • Ebony as well. It's clear that she was willing to do almost anything and step over anyone in her way in order to be successful.
  • Did Not Get The Guy: Ebony and Bob had a slight Will They or Won't They? relationship that even Kelly was aware of, but she came to realize how wrong it was to keep him from his family, especially given how much he and his wife loved one another and his love and concern for Tim was worth losing his job over by leaving the tour to be with him.
  • The '80s: When Ebony and Desire first hit it big, which as expected, both Ebony's crew and The Ghost of Christmas Past mock, especially in regards to the looks involved.
  • Epic Fail: Ebony asks for French toast while in France.note 
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Ebony draws the line at anyone making light of Marli's accident. See Make It Look Like an Accident.
    • Even though The Ghost of Christmas Past is a Deadpan Snarker, even she couldn't make any comments about the sad circumstances of Ebony's abusive past as well as she and her big brother getting taken away by social services on Christmas Day.
  • Freudian Excuse: A good amount of Ebony's backstory goes toward explaining (though not justifying) her behavior. Her miserliness seemed to stem from growing up in poverty, and losing her entire family made her leery of letting anybody get close to her.
  • Gender Flip: The majority of the characters that were in the story were gender flipped (Bob Cratchitt and Tim being notable exceptions).
  • Gentle Giant: Ebony's personal bodyguard T-Bone is this—he's a hulking guy, but soft-spoken and sweet. When Ebony serves up a massive feast to her crew after her redemption, T-Bone very politely asks for more stuffing, prompting a chorus of laughter from the group.
  • Greed: Ebony sells her Christmas CDs at $25 each. Also, she puts her large crew into fleabag motels, pockets the rest, and forces them to perform on Christmas Day instead of allowing them to go home to be with their families.
  • Happily Married: Ebony's niece Olivia and her husband Matt. Ultimately, Bob and Kelly thankfully prove to be this, being able to work through the strain that his busy work schedule and residual feelings for Ebony were causing to their marriage.
  • Happy Holidays Dress: Ebony rocks this towards the end of the movie.
  • Hollywood Atlas:
    • Gay Paree Ebony learns the hard way that French toast didn't originate (and is, in fact, unknown) in France.
    • Big Applesauce: The film's present-day action moves to New York City about fifteen minutes in.
  • I Am the Band: Discussed by Marli:
    One minute we were a trio and then the next, Terri and I were your backup singers, and that hurt!
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: Ebony's and The Ghost of Christmas Past's wardrobe (which she explains she has because she "had to show Tom Ford his past Christmases.")
    • Desire's matching outfits are pretty cool, too. Hell, even Marli's outfit as a ghost had a pretty unique and memorable style to it; see Jacob Marley Apparel below.
  • Ironic Echo: The same phrase Ebony used on Olivia to decline her offer to come over to her Christmas party—"Let me take a moment to consider your offer. Ah, mmm, no."—was also used by the Ghost of Christmas Past when Ebony herself asked to stay longer in her only happy Christmas memory: when she and Desire first debuted.
  • Ironic Hell: Marli explains her being trapped on Earth as this. Since she never spoke up and reined in Ebony's bad behaviors while she was alive, she's now doomed to silently watch her former friend continue to indulge those behaviors and gradually self-destruct as the years go by.
  • It's All About Me: Ebony comes first and foremost.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel: Marli Jacob's outfit is a variation of this—it's a black leather outfit with an arrangement of chains and metal woven into the fabric.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Ernie ends up being arrested at the end of the movie for embezzlement.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When Ebony asks Christmas Past what happened to Terri, Christmas Past asks, "This isn't Where Are They Now, OK, that's on later."
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: Bob's son Tim of course, although which exact disease he had remains vague. The fact that everybody seemed to sure that he would be cured at the end makes it seem like whatever he had could be easily treatable (which is was, as seen by the ending) if he simply had access to the appropriate resources, which makes his sickness all the more gut-wrenching (and Ebony's cheapness all the more horrible.)
  • Looping Lines: In-Universe: Ebony lip-synches at the beginning of the film, before she chokes on the fake snow.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Ebony’s back-up singer, Tina, believes in the old rumor of Ebony cutting Marli’s brake line, thus killing her in an effort to start her solo career. However, Bob absolutely refuses to believe it, and Ebony herself is horrified by the notion, calling it “terrible”.
  • Mean Boss: Ebony. Aside from her greed, she also makes her band stay in fleabag motels, work on Christmas and refuses to allow them to invite their families.
  • Missing Mom: Ebony and her niece Olivia both have one. The former is implied to be dead and there's no mention of the latter's. Ebony's backup singer, Tina, is also a Downplayed version: she has a child that she can't see because she's on the road working for her Mean Boss.
  • Morality Pet: Ebony had several throughout her life, including her brother, Marli and Bob. Unfortunately, none of them are enough to help her stop her selfish ways (at least not at first.)
  • Never My Fault: Ebony refuses to take responsibility for her actions, such as her diva behavior eventually driving Marli into drug addiction or her suing Terri for trying to recreate Desire leaving her in poverty.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Averted hilariously with Ebony's Behind The Music episode, as many viewed her as a miserable person, a meal ticket, or just glad not to have to deal with her.
    Patrice: I mean, great performer...
    Brian McKnight: ...nice butt...
    Tina: ...but such a bitch.
    Lance: She smelled real bad.
    Ebony: Oh, you're all fired.
    • Played straight with Marli's death—though Ebony is a royal pain, no one is allowed to make any sort of jokes or comments about that incident.
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: Ebony Scrooge is this in spades. Even her poor back-up singer Patrice, who was and continues to be a fan of her music, learns this upon being hired to be on her crew.
  • Nightmare Face: When Marli reveals her “real” face to Ebony (presumably the one that's not only been decaying for a decade, but was also destroyed beyond recognition after her car accident). We don't see it, but Ebony's disgusted reaction says it all.
  • Noodle Incident: Ebony when commenting on Marli's outfit:
    "I thought you gave up the whips and chains after you broke up with the guy from Paramus."
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Somehow, not seeing Marli's decayed, hideous Nightmare Face is even scarier, because we're left to imagine what it looks like.
  • Not His Sled: Since this adaptation's analogue for Belle also fills the role of Bob Crachett, he not only remains in Ebony's life, but remains an important part of it as her manager. As a result, Ebony gets a more intimate look at the family life that Bob has with Kelly and Tim and might have had with her. Bob and Ebony have a close but strained friendship, which is mended when Ebony is redeemed.
  • Only One Name: All of Ebony’s crew. Some of them aren’t even given names, just the main three, Patrice, Tina and Lance.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Ebony, who feels that Russians can’t drive and how she must take a long shower to wash the “Parisian stink” off of her.
  • Pretty in Mink: Ebony rocks a big (fake) fur coat during the beginning holiday special.
  • The Prima Donna: Guess who? Ebony is so bad that her bitchiness making a French production member cry.
  • Race Lift: Scrooge and Jacob Marley (now Marli Jacob) are Black in this version.
  • Reclusive Artist: In-universe, this is implied with Terri. After being sued into oblivion, one of the volunteers with Meals on Wheels tries to get her to sing at the homeless center, but she refuses to go out, citing how her voice isn't what it used to be. Also given her surroundings and her appearance, she rarely leaves her apartment and even Ebony's bandmembers were unsure of what happened to her after Desire's breakup. When Ebony invites her to sing at the big Christmas concert, her voice is still gorgeous, suggesting that her problem was psychosomatic.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Kelly. Her only roles in the film are as Bob's wife and Tim's mother.
  • Screwed by the Lawyers: This happens In-Universe to Terri. She attempted to get a new Desire off the ground after Marli's death and Ebony's abandonment, but the latter's lawyers crushed her in court, leaving her destitute.
  • Second Love: Kelly is this to Bob, as Ebony was his first.
  • Shout-Out: Since the movie originally aired on VH1, a couple of their now-defunct shows were mentioned, such as Where Are They Now? and Ebony's own bad future-themed episode of Behind the Music.
    • Also, Patrice jokingly declares to her bandmates, "God bless us, everyone!"
  • Someone Else's Problem: In addition to things never being her fault, Ebony feels that the problems of the homeless (amongst others) have nothing to do with her. Once the Ghost of Christmas Present shows her the homeless people that her benefit concert is supposedly helping, she realizes just how out of touch she's become (especially since she herself was born into poverty).
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: When Marli comes back to visit Ebony, the latter freaks out. The former tries to assure her that's it's truly her and to not be afraid of her, she is still understandably terrified of her best friend coming back from the dead after ten years.
  • Take That!: Several, at Los Angeles, Patterson, New Jersey, France, Céline Dion...
  • The One That Got Away: Ebony comes to realize that Bob was this for her.
  • The Twelve Spoofs of Christmas: Discussed by Tina when she and the rest of Ebony's road crew were being forced to work on Christmas day and will only get the next two days off for the "holidays":
    "On the two nights of Christmas, the Diva gave to me, absolutely, positively nothing!"
  • True Companions: Initially, Ebony, Marli and Terri were the best of friends who even grew up together.
    • Olivia, Matt and their friends are this trope as well.
    • Arguably, Ebony's crew are considered this.
  • Ungrateful Bitch: You don't say.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Nobody is exactly sure of what became of Terri after Ebony abandoned her, Ebony included, until the Ghost of Christmas Past showed her what happened.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: In this adaptation, Bob Crachit is a tour manager working for Ebony. He's on duty in France, and his wife, Kelly, and very sick son, Tim, are in Cleveland. Tim is understanding, but Kelly is out of patience. Before Ebony's reform, Bob and Kelly's marriage is teetering on the brink of divorce.
  • You Bastard!: Ebony’s reaction to Brian McKnight using her death as a way to become richer (as he and producer Nile Rodgers quickly released a duet the two of them did just after her demise as a memorial single):
    Brian McKnight: And the workers are just about finished putting in the pool. Thanks, Ebony! I’ll never forget you!