POSTING BY JB MADDAWG
If there’s one universal theme that is central to Rankin/Bass’ 1964 classic children’s television special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, it’s conform. Conform, or be exiled to the harsh gulag of society’s outer circle, which in this particular case, is an island of freak toys that are ruled over by some kind of flying lion thing. Not good.
Obviously the creators of one of the most viewed holiday specials in the history of television didn’t set out to prove that point, but alas, there it is. Rudolph is supposed to represent one’s ability to overcome personal short comings and become useful and productive amongst society. In short, Rudolph’s unique gift ends up making him one of the most revered protagonists in history. Of course, this is all after his father made excuses and attempted to cover up his own unbearable embarrassment of his only son. Look, when the one and only Santa Claus is getting pissed off at your kid because his nose is a different color, reason goes out the window.
Obviously a show written almost 50 years ago is going to get a bit dated, but as a parent, I think even back then someone would have had the stones to stand up and say, “you know, maybe we could throttle the ‘whole world hates you’ message down a bit”. We get it. Nobody loves Rudolph. Everyone is united in the global hatred of Rudolph…that is until a giant abominable snowmonster captures the whole family for dinner. And Santa Claus has to cancel his Christmas run because he wasn’t a forward enough thinker to expect a blizzard in December. Sure, no Christmas presents will irk more than a few folks, Kringle. The reindeer with the off-color nose not looking so bad now, eh? It all comes back home to Rudolph. They bullied, ostracised and exiled him right up until everyone up in Christmas town realized he was the only guy with a shred of common sense. Reminds me of the old saying, “be careful who you step on as you climb up the ladder, you’re gonna face the same people on your way back down.” Rudolph should have sat his furry ass in the snow and watched as the big, crazy yeti devoured the town.
Obviously, the show is based on the classic song of the same name but all that compares here is the fact that Rudolph wasn’t allowed to join in any “reindeer games” whatever the hell those are. The whole business of Rudy’s dad and Santa knocking him was completely an angle of the t.v. show. Not to mention the reindeer coach that sounds like Don Adams on helium that goes apeshit when he finds out Rudy isn’t “normal”. Let’s face it. The only thing holding the poor guy together is the fact that Clarice, the little girl reindeer, finds him cute. Even she’s got a bit of an attitude, however, telling Rudolph “I don’t mind” in reference to his odd nose. Well, good to hear his physical affliction won’t inconvenience you in any way, little girl reindeer. And your rendition of “There’s Always Tomorrow” is a bit pitchy, just a heads up.
All this may seem like minor nit picking, but the best message for everyone (after cutting through all the bullying) is how Rudolph is only fully accepted by the two friends he makes along his walkabout, Hermey the elf and Yukon Cornelius. That’s right, justification comes in the form of a little elf that shirks the whole toy industry to become a dentist, and a guy that hunts the frozen tundra for silver and gold by licking the end of a frozen pick axe. The guy’s skin graft bills alone have gotta be astronomical, but I digress. The two accept Rudolph, unconditionally. Why? Because it’s the heart of a message we can all relate to. No matter how much of a weirdo we’re all labled as, everyone in eyesight is just as fucked up as we are. Let’s see NBC put that in “The More You Know” segment.
Here’s all 51:45 of the Rudolph special, just so I can beat CBS to airing it, which will probably be as soon as Thanksgiving dinner is finished.