I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit that "It's a Wonderful Life" was one of my favorite holiday movies growing up. Despite George Bailey's endearing purity of intention, however, I've come to realize that the movie is just another outdated blue pill fairy tale infused with Hollywood cliches and conformist ideology.
If you haven't seen the movie, the protagonist George Bailey plays the subservient beta, clinging to the expectations of others and essentially blaming external forces for his own lack of ownership over his life's path. Over the course of his lifetime (the movie spans 30+ years), George:
Risks his life to save his brother's, leaving him permanently disabled and unable to serve in the military
Passes up a risky but lucrative entrepreneurial opportunity to do his duty to his family business
Desperately wishes to travel the world, but puts it off indefinitely due to job responsibilities
Holds a oneitis for his eventual wife that stops him from enjoying a life pursuing other women
Uses his hard-earned honeymoon money to bail his family business out of a crisis caused by an imbecile
Nearly loses his business to the "evil" rich man in town despite all of his good deeds
At the end, he is destitute and about to kill himself when an angel steps in and shows him the extent of the positive impact he's had upon the world. In a renewed passion for life, George hurries home, where all of his friends are waiting with money to help pay off his debt and save the business.
The movie's chief message -- briefly summarized as "Live your life for everyone else, and you'll be rewarded" -- bears suspicious resemblance to the promise of religious afterlife that has successfully subjugated lower classes since the beginning of time. Similar to Hollywood's niceguy-gets-the-girl bromide, such films control our society by imploring people to play by all of the rules for a delayed gratification that never really comes.
As with most mass-produced popular media, the lessons you should take from the film are diametrically opposed to what is actually portrayed in the movie. Question what people are telling you to do. Do not accept societal reproach for living the life you desire without deferential regard for the interests of others. Unlike George Bailey's reality, a guardian angel will not intervene at the end of your limited days and save you from the putrid pathos of a life lived for others.