COLUMN: The Tyrannical Rudolph

Harry Caines contributes a weekly column to Harry is a resident of Logan and an alumnus of Utah State University. He can be reached via email at His column is a work of opinion, and does not reflect the views of Cache Valley Daily, the Cache Valley Media Group, or its employees. 

<em>Mrs. Claus: Eat, Papa, eat.</em>

<em>Santa Claus: How can I eat? That silly elf song is driving me crazy!</em>

Released in 1964, the television special “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is a standard that, for many, is an essential part of Christmas season. Based on the iconic song of the same name, it has for over a half-century been watched by children all over the world. But, should it be viewed by children?

Let us examine this in imbecilic detail. I will assume my dozens of readers will have all seen this special at least once in their lifetime.

The show starts off with the knowledge that Rudolph is Donner’s son. He and Mrs. Donner are proud to have a young son. So is Santa, who comes to visit the newborn. That is until they discovered that Rudolph has a red nose. Instant to that knowledge, Rudolph is treated like untermensch.


I am nothing near a zoologist, but I am not sure what deficiency of talent impedes a magical reindeer by having a glowing red nose. At the North Pole, a red nose makes you #worsethanhitler.

I guess the fact that Santa is a bulimic who is mysteriously thin for 364 days a year is an acceptable malady. Let’s completely overlook his awkward eating disorder to fixate on a newborn with a built-in nightlight.

And let us not forget that Santa has built his reputation on the backs of slave labor. It is here that we meet Hermey.

Hermey is an elf assigned to work in Santa’s (Sweat)Shop. Problem: he does not like making toys. He wants to be a dentist. Off camera, I am certain they whipped Hermey for his insolence. On screen, he is ostracized for his lack of obedience to his white-bearded overlord.

At this point, Hermey sings a song about being a misfit. Remember, this was 1964. Misfit was a code word for gay.

Hermey is gay! You really don’t see it? C’mon!

Back to Rudy.

He is now in reindeer school, wearing a disguise on his nose…because his parents taught him to feel shame at his deformity. He makes friends, meets does and shows amazing athleticism. But then his disguise falls off. Suddenly, he is excluded from reindeer games.

OK, from what I have seen, reindeer games consists only of the long jump. Maybe they get up a badminton match on the 4th of July. Perhaps in the Martin Scorsese “Director’s Cut”, the elite reindeer play a game where they hunt humans…the ultimate prey. But if all Rudolph is denied is running and jumping, which is what all magical reindeer do, I think he is going to be alright.

And what is up with Rudolph’s best-friend-for-about-ten-minutes, Fireball? He is the first to shun Rudolph when he is outed. Umm, <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Fireball</a> is the only reindeer at the North Pole with blonde hair! No one notices that (golden) nugget of unconformity? Yeah, I know what conclusion kids in the 1960’s were supposed to reach by that strange oversight. The snow is slightly whiter at the North Pole than other places, isn’t it?

Rudolph decides to leave and meets up with another traveler, Hermey. After singing a reprise of the “Misfit Song”, the two take long fishing trips together alone to Wyoming. Wait! That’s the plot of “Brokeback Mountain”. I get my gay pop culture references confused. Oops!

Back at the North Pole, the elves are forced to sing a song in praise of working for Santa. Compulsory songs exalting the virtue of unpaid work for an oppressive cult figure was a big hit in an era before the Civil Rights Act of 1965 became law. No. Just…no.

Out on the road to lower Canada, Rudy and Hermey meet Yukon Cornelius, who obviously has a drinking problem. He is hunting for silver and gold. In the North Pole. And he uses gun powder. Just let that sit there a minute.

Let me lead you in the right direction. It rhymes with shrug stealer.

At this point, the trio is running from The Bumble, a large snow monster with a worse comb over than Your Humble Columnist. This leads them to the Island of Misfit Toys, a place with toys that would be marked at 50% off at dollar stores.

I do not wish to be cold-hearted, but I see spotted elephants every time I drink too much eggnog and rum. I would be offended if someone gave me one as a Christmas gift. And, if we really remove emotion from this, what use does a train with square wheels have? They are crap toys. They should be exiled! Still, they are of better quality than anything sold at Wal-Mart.

Rudolph eventually goes rogue, heading home. Plot twist: Rudy’s parents along with Clarice, Rudolph’s girlfriend-for-ten-minutes, went to find him. When Santa mentions they are missing, he seems unconcerned for their safety. Santa moans about missing his best reindeer days before Christmas.

A group of his reindeer are missing and all this guy can do is think about his own self-interest? Santa, you are an insensitive jerk!

Rudolph, fortuitously reunited with Hermey and Cornelius, saves his parents and Clarice from being eaten by The Bumble. Donner was almost dinner. I waited 35 years to tell that joke. #worthit

Cornelius takes a header off a cliff fighting The Bumble. But he is OK, because Bumbles bounce. I would like the guys from “Mythbusters” to take that on. The Bumble does a babyface turn and becomes another part of Santa’s free labor force.

Happy ending? Not yet. A horrific blizzard dismays Santa. He cannot take his sled out in such inclement weather. Yeah, that happens at the North Pole in December. Maybe he should move to Arizona. Anywho, Santa decrees that Christmas is cancelled.

What the Frosty the Snowman is that?!?! Santa can cancel the celebration of the birth of Jesus? The Gospel of Matthew never existed? The only people allowed to cancel Christmas are Communist dictators and university presidents.

To an end, everyone realizes they were bigoted bullies and Rudolph saves the day. The only loser in the story is the unfortunate kid that got a train with square wheels as a Christmas gift.

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