For fifty years now, families have gathered together to sit and watch the children’s classic movie Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer. As I have again started to watch this with my own children, I’ve always been struck by one thing – Santa the slave-driving fascist, King Moonracer of the Island of Misfit Toys and the bulk of the other reindeer surrounding Rudolph, including his father Donner, are just outright assholes.
From the day of Rudolph’s birth, Santa is on his ass about his nose. When Santa visits to see the new buck and Rudolph’s nose starts to glow (as the ubiquitous song points out), Santa says, “Great bouncing icebergs! Let’s hope [it stops] if he wants to make the sleigh team some day.” As if having a red nose somehow prohibits his ability to fly a damn sleigh. And his bastard of a father shows what backbone he’s got (none) by agreeing with Santa. So what does he do? He first covers Rudolph’s nose with mud and when that doesn’t work, he puts on a cap making him sound like a kid with an allergy to cats who gets locked in an animal shelter. Not exactly setting him up for success, are they?
Despite this auspicious beginning, Rudolph goes to try out for the sleigh team on the day of the Reindeer Games. There he meets Fireball and despite his ridiculous sounding voice (courtesy of the stupid nose cap), he and Fireball hit it off. When they see a couple of does nearby, the mack is on. Fireball prods Rudolph into talking to one exceptionally cute doe named Clarice. After throwing out his smooth lines and getting her to agree to walk home with him, Clarice tells him she thinks he’s cute. This literally sends him into orbit and he jumps into the sky and flies better than all of the other mean ass reindeer at the games.
But when he and Fireball engage in a little reindeer fun, his nose cap comes off. And that’s when the shit hits the fan. Fireball immediately yells at Rudolph to get away from him and that’s when the other lemming reindeer come in and start the insults. Instead of stopping the nonsense, Santa scolds his father. “Donner, you should be ashamed of yourself. What a pity.” And to add insult to the injury, Comet the coach, dick that he is, announces to all of the other bucks as they head back to practice, “Oh no, not you. You better go home with your folks. From now on gang, we won’t let Rudolph join in any Reindeer Games, right?” Clarice is the only stand up deer in the bunch as she is still interested in Rudolph despite his “malady”. Of course, her assfaced father comes and busts them up because he doesn’t want any doe of his with a red-nosed reindeer.
When Rudolph meets Hermey the Dentist Elf, he at least finds a kindred spirit. Hermey, like Rudolph, was run out of Christmastown because he didn’t want to be like every other single-minded toy slave that the other elves were. He probably didn’t dig Santa bagging on the elves for their singing either. They pal up and along their way, they pick up Yukon Cornelius, a precious metals prospector and loner himself. The triumvirate, in escaping the terrible Abominable Snow Monster, Bumble, end up on the Island of Misfits Toys where they, misfits in their own right, hope to stay. Of course, King Moonracer isn’t having any of it stating that the island is only for toys, stating, “Unlike playthings, a living creature cannot hide himself on an island.” I guess he missed the part where he is a living damn creature. After denying them asylum, Moonracer has the balls to ask them a favor! This guy. He asks them when they return to Christmastown, would they ask Santa to come pick up all of the misfit toys and get them to children? Uhhh, Moonracer – Santa basically consented to Rudolph being run out of town, much in the same way you did. Why would they ever go back let alone do you a favor?
The last turn of assholishness occurs at the end of the movie when Santa declares Christmas is canceled because of some storm. Now, did it not occur to Santa that Christmas could be delayed? That he would rather just ruin the lives of every child on earth who celebrate the holiday rather than reschedule is insane to me. Talk about tunnel vision. Perhaps the most insulting thing he does the entire movie is when he literally sees the light (of Rudolph’s nose to be exact). Only when he figures out that Rudolph can be of any use to him in this exact moment does he embrace him. “That nose. That beautiful, wonderful nose of yours!” Wait a minute – you told his father he should be ashamed of him because of that nose, now it’s beautiful and wonderful? Fuck that. And Donner in true fashion says, “I knew that nose would be useful someday. I knew it all along!” No you didn’t. You were as much of a dick to him as Santa was, Donner, you sycophantic ass, so cut the shit. You see a chance to capitalize on your son’s new status, no different than Honey Boo-Boo‘s mom.
It’s no wonder kids who grow up watching this turn into assholes, too. This is the blueprint on how to be racist, afraid of “others” (poor Bumble), tyrannical, indifferent and cruel. Get ’em while they’re young, I guess. I don’t know what their intentions were, but maybe the writers and director were using the film as a mirror for American society to look at itself as a way to change these behaviors. I seriously doubt that, though.
My kids love this movie and I remember it with fondness from my childhood as well. That doesn’t mean there isn’t some bad shit in there, though. It’s a wonder kids love Santa at all after watching this. His dickheadedness is hardly subtle. The only thing he doesn’t seem to do is punch his wife or kick a dog. Maybe Tarantino will direct a grindhouse version of it and we’ll get those two elements taken care of. Fifty years on, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is still a staple in American households. My questions is, should it be?