Monday, December 05, 2005

Rudolph the red-nosed fraud

Of all the irritating byproducts of the holiday season, none are as grating as America's favorite loser, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

No matter where you turn during December, you are hammered with the tale that presents a terrible lesson to America's children. Rudolph sacrifices his self-respect and dignity, yet we celebrate him throughout the land.

Before we break down this invective drivel, thrust upon us by department store copywriter Robert May in 1934 and turned to song by Johnny Marks in 1949, I'll post the lyrics here for our Jewish readers who may be unfamiliar with the tune:

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen
Comet and Cupid, Donner and Blitzen
But do you recall
The most famous reindeer of all?

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
Had a very shiny nose
And if you ever saw it
You would even say it glows

All of the other reindeer
Used to laugh and call him names
They never let poor Rudolph
Join in any reindeer games

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say:
"Rudolph with your nose so bright
Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?"

Then how the reindeer loved him
As they shouted out with glee:
"Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
You'll go down in history!"

The story is marketed as an underdog-makes-good message for children. But Rudolph is no icon to be cherished.

First of all, who is Rudolph? When the song was penned, the red nose was a symbol of the vagrant drunkards roaming America during the throes of the Great Depression. Montgomery Ward department stores, which tapped May to write a children's Christmas poem, rejected Rudolph because of his possible proclivity toward alcoholism.

So since Rudolph is selected to guide the sleigh, the jingle tacitly endorses driving under the influence. Mothers Against Drunk Driving should be outraged, as drunk driving kills countless people every holiday season, including Christmas Eve.

Rudolph never actually pilot's Santa's sleigh in the song; but we are left to conclude that the flight occurred. Flying with a blood-alcohol level of 0.04 or higher is a criminal act. Two American West pilots were convicted of this offense earlier this year. Even if he hadn't been drinking on that particular eve, chronic alcoholism is a disqualifier from receiving an FAA medical certificate. Do we really want our children celebrating such a reckless reindeer?

Rudolph may or may not be a drunk, but he is definitely an outcast. A freak. He's not only the last reindeer chosen in gym class; he's not even allowed to play in the god-damned games. In the television Christmas special, he is portrayed to have been banished to living in a cave.

To be fair, May's poem and Marks' song part ways on this particular point. May has said Rudolph lived in an "ordinary" village elsewhere, and although tormented by his peers, his parents did not regard his deformity as a shameful embarrassment.

In interviews, May further stated he modeled Rudolph after The Ugly Duckling story, and his own childhood. Small and slight, May was often taunted by his fellow schoolchildren. This bullying of Rudolph and May is unfortunate and not condoned under any circumstances.

Where the hell is Santa while all this occurs? At best, he is an absentee paternal figure unaware that the reindeer hierarchy has exiled Rudolph in ruthless, Lord of the Flies fashion. At worst, he idly watched the bullying occur and did nothing because he, too, did not want a disfigured reindeer on his sleigh. Who knows. Maybe he worried it would have negative commercial implications for his gift-delivery business. Santa's exact role is unfortunately unclear.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Rudolph makes the biggest mistake of all.

Although the lyrics never explicitly state he accepted Santa's request, we can assume this is true, because the other reindeer immediately begin celebrating. Christmas has been saved.

This is the worst part of the song. Think about this. Put yourself in Rudolph's hooves. You have been mocked your entire life because of this deformity. On Christmas eve, the very disability that caused you so much heartache, through a twist of fate, becomes needed by the tormentors who have made you miserable. Are you going to guide that sleigh? Of course not. You know what I tell Santa?

"Go fuck yourself."

Frankly, and although murder is not condoned, Rudolph would have gotten some sympathy if he decided to go Dylan Klebold on those other reindeer. At the very least, he should have let Santa's business wither while he smugly sat at home. Or, he could have started a competing gift-delivery business that would have enjoyed immediate success thanks to the massive failure of Santa's idle sleigh.

That would have made this a true American triumph-over-adversity story.

Instead, Rudolph takes a completely unrealistic route out of this dilemma. He joins those who conspired against him. He must have a deep sense of self-hatred, because no reindeer with any shred of self-respect or dignity would have so gleefully forgotten past wrongs.

No mention is made if any compensation was afforded Rudolph for this journey. Give the dire situation, you think Santa would have offered a sweet pot. Yet even for millions, Rudolph should not have allowed his spirit to be trampled by Santa's fat ass.

The lessons of this tale for children are clear, and they are dreadful: The needs of your enemies are more important than your own self-respect. The needs of the corporation are more important than the needs of the individual. Be a good, submissive worker.

If you let your children be brainwashed by the unrelenting popularity of this song, they could find themselves backing down to bullies in the schoolyard. Eventually, they too, could be crushed beneath the sleigh of unchecked capitalism.

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2 Comments:

At 10:32 AM, Blogger Erik said...

Utterly ridiculous...maybe the auhtor was a big fan of Jimmy Durante? Why can't you just enjoy the song for what it is? Not to get too deep, but isn't it more about how we need to celebrate our differences, particularly around the holidays?

If I were you, I'd feel bad that I wasted 20 minutes of my life writing that last post. It could have spent doing something more productive, like staring directly into the sun.

Happy Holidays! Go Rudolph!

 
At 12:47 PM, Blogger Joependleton said...

PETE:
Great post. As I said in one of my posts, Santa is a total douche in the TV show. If he tells everyone to stop picking on Rudolph from the outset, it would stop. Not only doesn't he stop it, he promotes it.

Maybe Rudolph should've done a kamikaze deal and drove the Sleigh head-first into the Island of Misfit Toys.

Even Rudy's old man, Donner, wouldn't stand up to friggin Santa. Thanks dad.

At least Hermie had the friggin balls to quit the elf shop. I'm sure when he got boss elf in the dentist chair for the first time, he caused a great deal of pain.

Y

 

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