'A Christmas Story Live!' Changed a Racist Scene From the Original Movie

The Fox musical, which aired in 2017, recruited members of the Filharmonic a capella group for the controversial scene.

A Christmas Story may be a Christmas classic and at the top of essentially all holiday movie marathons, but for decades now, that racist Chinese restaurant scene has cast a shadow over the film. That all changed in 2017 when Fox's A Christmas Story Live! debuted, the creators of the live musical version of the 1983 film opting to change the scene for the better.

The original Chinese restaurant scene in A Christmas Story comes at the end of the movie as Ralphie and the rest of the Parker family resort to having their Christmas dinner at Chop Suey In, a Chinese restaurant, after their Christmas Eve meal is eaten by the neighborhood dog. There, the Parker family is serenaded with Christmas carols from the waiters at the restaurant as they sing a rendition of "Deck the Halls in over-exaggerated accents, pronouncing the refrain as "fa ra ra ra ra." The scene also sees Mrs. Parker shrieks in horror when a whole roasted duck is delivered to the table, Mr. Parker stating, "it's smiling at me."

Prior to Fox's A Christmas Story Live! premiere, there had been plenty of anticipation regarding how the musical would handle the scene, but rather than keeping things the same, director Scott Ellis, producer Marc Platt, and writers Robert Cary and Jonathan Tolins provided some much-needed updates. In the musical, the waiters, most of whom we learn are attending Ivy League colleges, sing the song with no accents. The waiters were played by members of the Filharmonic, a Los Angeles-based a capella group.

There is a small nod to the original scene when Ralphie's father noted it was "not what he was expecting." Ken Jeong, playing the restaurant owner, replied by asking, "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 told Vulture of the scene. "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."

The change was celebrated by many viewers and fans of the 1983 film. On X (formerly Twitter), one person wrote, "turned to 'A Christmas Story Live' during commercials and saw the Chinese restaurant scene. They decided NOT to repeat the racist part and made it into a joke referencing it instead." A Christmas Story Live! is available to rent or purchase on Prime Video, YouTube, and Vudu.