Today’s Jolt closed out with a cheerier note . . . hopefully a funnier assessment of a Christmas classic:
It’s Time for Regime Change in Christmastown
The latest edition of my pop-culture podcast with Mickey White goes up today. I discuss a Christmas television special that our family watches every year — and I was unnerved to see that James Lileks also wrote about the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas special as well. Luckily, the two of us headed in different directions in our assessment. He wonders how today’s Left would re-edit it, while I lament that for all of the warm feelings it stirs . . . this children’s classic makes almost no sense.
First, I get that this is a parable about tolerance of those who are different, and appreciating “misfits” who “don’t fit in.” Perhaps that was a particularly powerful message in 1964. But the story’s need for an intolerant society to depict means that a lot of previously-beloved characters associated with Christmas get turned into absolute quasi-fascistic villains.
Donner, Rudolph’s dad, is one of the worst. He’s horrified by his son’s shiny nose, literally from the moment of his birth. Everyone just accepts that because of the shiny nose, Rudolph will never be able to pull the sleigh. Nobody ever explains why. They treat this as some sort of horrible genetic mutation. In the entire story, no one in Christmastown other than Clarice and Rudolph’s mother — who never even gets a name! — can tolerate it. Everyone else instantly reacts with shock, horror, and disgust.
Santa comes across as even worse. He’s a jerk who doesn’t care about the elves’ musical number. The first sign of snow — in the North Pole, where he really shouldn’t be that shocked — and he’s ready to cancel Christmas. He’s got one job!
Finally, when Rudolph is exposed at the reindeer games, Santa tells Donner, Rudolph’s dad, he should be ashamed of himself. For what? His son’s nose? A birth defect? For polluting the gene pool? Is this Nazi Christmastown?
Why is Hermey being a dentist considered to be this unthinkable option in this society? By the end, we’ve established that the elves have teeth and they have bad teeth.
By the time Rudolph runs away, it’s clear Santa is a horrible dictator. By comparison, the griffin who’s running the adjacent monarchy, King Moonracer, actually seems to have his head on straight. He’s got a castle, he treats his guests with kindness . . . he’s even got functional border security. The moment Rudolph, Hermey, and Yukon Cornelius land on the Island of Misfit Toys, Charlie-in-a-Box pops up and says “Who goes there!” If only we had such a solid, reliable system on our borders.
Speaking of the Island of Misfit Toys, aren’t the misfit toys made wrong by the elves? Why don’t the elves take responsibility for their defective creations? What, they can’t put round wheels on a caboose? They can’t put water in the water gun? One of the toys is a doll that, as far as we can tell, has nothing wrong with her. It’s as if the mass exile of the undesirables swept up the normal doll by accident, and the bureaucratic police state of Christmastown has no time or concern for justice.
And the Misfit toys go from “no child would ever want us” to being on Santa’s distribution list literally overnight for no discernable reason. Yes, I realize everyone in Christmastown now realizes that Rudolph’s nose is useful, and regrets their mockery. Maybe they’ve reevaluated their attitudes on a lot of things.
“Wait, Rudolph’s nose is useful! This completely changes children’s tastes in toys immediately!”
Ha! One last point: Yukon Cornelius HAS A GUN. He could have shot the Bumble any time he wanted. Bumbles bounce? No, Yukon. Bumbles drop when you hit center mass.
Take the shot, Yukon! Take the shot!