We all have a soft spot for our beloved Christmas stories, movies, and songs, but sometimes that spot can be blinding enough for us to completely overlook how messed up they really are. We barely bat an eye at the obvious sexual connotations of Santa Baby and Baby, It’s Cold Outside because they’re fun and traditional, nor do we think twice about showing young kids the acts of brutal violence Kevin commits against two lovable burglars in Home Alone because their misery is kind of funny. I’m totally OK with that, but what I’m very much NOT fine with is the self-esteem eradicator known as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, specifically the stop motion film version, which is a horribly made movie. Let me explain. Beware, this may get kind of harsh.
The movie begins with Rudolph’s birth, and it instantaneously pulls the pin and tosses a massive “being different is bad” grenade at the audience. Rudolph’s father, Donner, is horrified by his son’s hideous nostril disfigurement, and covers it up so that he can retain his dignity. When Rudolph asks his dad to let him take off the cover because it’s uncomfortable, Donner refuses and tells him “there are more important things than comfort – self-respect!” like a normal, loving father does. Even Santa, who is a bumbling idiot throughout the entire movie, is disgusted by Rudolph’s horrific disability, saying he could never be on his sleigh team with a red nose. Now here’s my issue with this. If the story wants to have any justification for making the other characters hate Rudolph, whatever incites that hatred should either be his fault or they should realize later on in the story that their hatred was unjustified. The nose was not his fault and you’ll come to find that the reason everyone stops hating Rudolph is not because of any such realization.
Since the movie needed more conflict, or maybe needed to pad the runtime, another revolting freak, who goes by the name of Hermey, is introduced. He is an elf who is obviously an outcast because all of the other elves in the movie have nearly identical bland faces, and he is the only one of them with any hair or facial details whatsoever. So for whatever godforsaken reason, Hermey wants to be a dentist. There is no reasoning given for this, and the only evidence of him even participating in the practice is a pointless scene of him hitting a doll’s tooth with a hammer. It seemed like the movie just wanted to give Hermey a dream of doing the single most useless thing one could do as an elf at the North Pole to make him look like as much of a loser as possible. Once again, the movie has a chance to let those who hated someone redeem themselves and apologize for their hatred due to a realization of their wrongdoing, but this never happens and Hermey just feels like a pointless character who does well in the end because the director decided he would.
So after Hermey’s boss verbally abuses him for trying to make the teeth on dolls better, he jumps out of the window in what I can only assume was an attempt to kill himself, but he’s on the first floor so nothing happens. Around this same time, Rudolph is getting mercilessly bullied for having a red nose, so he also runs away. It’s almost as if social outcasts are magnetically attracted because he runs into Hermey. Not caring about their respective crippling deformities, they travel together in the direction of nothing, meeting a creepy mountaineer along the way named Yukon, who licks his pickaxe a lot for some reason. They encounter a Yeti, find the Island of Misfit Toys, and participate in other useless filler for about thirty minutes before Rudolph leaves Hermey and Yukon with the rest of the losers on the island because apparently his nose was endangering them.
The story then skips forward a few months, and Rudolph has somehow survived alone in the wilderness with no food and is suddenly about twice the size he was before. He goes back to the North Pole to see his family, but Santa tells him they had gone searching for him and hadn’t returned. He searches for them, and because it’s a movie, he finds them being held captive by the Yeti. Rudolph smacks the Yeti in the crotch with his antlers in an attempt to save his family, but it doesn’t work. Suddenly, Yukon and Hermey show up out of absolutely nowhere and one of them pretends to be a pig to lure the Yeti out of its cave and knock it unconscious. Hermey uses his limited dentistry skills to brutally rip the Yeti’s teeth out, and then Yukon pushes it off a cliff, falling off the same cliff in the process. Rudolph, his family, and Hermey go back to the North Pole and tell everyone about what happened.
For some reason, everybody immediately decides to not hate Rudolph and Hermey anymore and they are instead praised. Hermey gets to be a dentist with zero credentials and Rudolph gets to lead the sleigh because apparently a bright light eliminates the turbulence of a violent winter storm that must span the entire Earth if Santa was going to cancel Christmas because of it. Yukon and the Yeti are somehow alive and show up for no reason, and the Yeti is now super chill even though Hermey violently ripped his teeth out and Yukon basically killed him. Then they all send off the sleigh together as Rudolph leads them into the storm to deliver presents.
OK, so that may seem like a pessimistic way to look at the movie, but hear me out. The moral of the story is literally “being different is bad unless your defect is useful.” Is that really the message we want to send to KIDS? I mean, the ending of the movie only happens because the people at the North Pole finally found a use for Rudolph. And Santa is still a douche bag when Rudolph’s nose lights up, getting vocally upset about it before he realizes that he could benefit from the freakish disability Rudolph was born with. It’s like someone was born with a screwdriver as an arm and everyone makes fun of him until someone notices that his arm could be useful for driving screws, and then suddenly everyone likes him. THAT ISN’T HOW LIFE WORKS! Anyway, I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas, and remember, don’t be a disgusting freak unless your abnormality has a practical use!
All photos from Cracked.com