Friday, December 8, 2017

Santa Is a Jerk: Re-Watching Rudolph

Christmas is approaching, and that means our old favorite Christmas shows are on the television again. Shows like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. We've all seen it, and we all love it, right?

But should we?

Recently, I gave this classic another look. Things have changed a bit since this show was made back in 1964. The North Pole of Rudolph's world is full of grumpy, sexist, and discriminatory jerks. It really is quite jarring, especially after viewing all the nice, friendly, happy folks who inhabit the North Pole in the movie Elf.

So, I thought I'd take an in-depth look at Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer using the old running diary method. I recorded the show on my DVR, then I sat down for a minute-by-minute review. Here's how it went:

00:00--I start the DVR and the show is already going. It was supposed to start at 6:00 PM, and that's when I set it to record. But apparently the fine folks at CBS decided to start it at 5:58 instead. You'd think the networks and the DVR people could get their times straight.

00:01--I start with the Narrator Snowman rolling along in the snow telling us all what's what. (I'm a bit jealous of his fancy facial hair.)

01:00--We are first introduced to Santa. He is grumbling about not wanting to eat. And Mrs. Claus is nagging at him to "eat, eat, eat!" because no one wants a Santa who isn't fat. (I don't like to use the word "nag," but there is no question that it is the word that best describes what Mrs. Claus is doing.)

2:12--The Narrator Snowman starts singing the song and the opening credits begin to roll.

3:30--Our first commercial break. (Rudolph is sponsored by Target.) (There's a deer hunting joke in there somewhere, but I'm not going to make it.)

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer! Don't be a jerk, own it today!

6:06--We get our first glimpse of Rudolph's famous red nose.

6:20--Rudolph's dad, Donner, is immediately repulsed. "How can you overlook that!" he exclaims. What a jerk.

6:44--Santa comes to congratulate Donner on the birth of his son. He sees Rudolph and quickly shows himself to be a jerk, too. "He'll never make the sleigh team with a nose like that!" Santa snarls.

7:55--Donner decides the best approach is to hide Rudolph's nose, afraid of the shame it will bring to himself.

9:38--We are introduced to Hermey the Elf. He is not good at making toys and doesn't like to do it. He is yelled at by the Elf Boss. "WHAT!?! You don't like making toys?" The Elf Boss yells at and mocks Hermey.

10:19--Hermey declares that he wants to be a dentist. He is once again mocked by the Elf Boss and all the other elves. Apparently jerks abound at the North Pole.

10:40--While all the elves but Hermey get a break, the Elf Boss yells, "Finish the job or you're fired!"

11:22--Donner covers Rudolph's nose with what looks like an oversized olive. When Rudolph complains, Donner tells him, "There are more important things than comfort!" And, "Santa can't reject you now!"

15:38--The Elf Boss leads the elves as they serenade Santa with the song, "We Are Santa's Elves."

15:45--While singing the song, one elf hits the other over the head with a hammer, because nothing is funnier than a little hammer-on-elf violence.

16:20--The song ends and Santa is unimpressed. "It needs work," he says gruffly. I thought he was supposed to be jolly!

16:35--"WHAT!?!" is the reaction by the Elf Boss when he finds out Hermey didn't sing with the other elves.

17:05--"You'll never fit it!" the Elf Boss bellows to Hermey.

17:30--Hermey climbs out the window to run away. Unfortunately, there are no good dental schools at the North Pole.

18:00--Coach Cotton is here to teach the reindeer how to fly. He seems nice enough, and even says he wants to be the friend of all his students.

18:10--Rudolph, with his nose in the oversized olive, begins to make friends with the other reindeer.

18:58--Rudolph meets Clarice, a beautiful doe who immediately seems taken with him.

19:55--Clarice tells Rudolph she thinks he's cute, which sends Rudolph in an excitable tizzy.

20:22--Unfortunately, in his excitement the olive falls off Rudolph's nose, exposing him to everyone as a freak.

20:45--Santa vehemently disapproves of Rudolph and his nose. "Donner, you ought to be ashamed of yourself!" he chides.

21:05--Coach Cotton proves to be yet another North Pole jerk as he bans Rudolph from joining in any reindeer games.

22:30--Hey, what do you know? Someone at the North Pole isn't a jerk! Clarice tells Rudolph that she likes him, glowing nose and all.

23:30--It doesn't take long to find another jerk. Clarice's dad forbids her from having anything to do with that red-nosed freak.

23:45--Rudolph decides it is best to just run away. He quickly runs into Hermey, and they bond in their mutual misfitiveness.

29:38--Rudolph and Hermey run into Yukon Cornelius. He is, apparently, the only male in the North Pole who is not a jerk, so he must be a little crazy.

30:05--To prove he is crazy, Yukon Cornelius licks both ends of his pick.

33:55--After escaping from the Abominable Snowman, Yukon Cornelius once again licks both ends of his pick. (I don't know why, but I think this is my favorite moment of the entire show. Maybe this proves that I'm crazy.)

34:29--Rudolph's Mom and Clarice say they want to go search for Rudolph. Donner puts the kibosh on that, saying "No, this is man's work!" Donner isn't just a jerk, he's a sexist jerk.

35:21--Rudolph, Hermey, and Yukon Cornelius land on the Island of Misfit Toys and meet the sentry, the Charley In a Box.

Here's Rudolph, Yukon Cornelius, Hermey, Narrator Snowman, Abominable Snowman, Charley-In-a-Box, Santa and Clarice, all available for sale at!

37:42--We are introduced to some of the misfit toys, including a spotted elephant and a train with square wheels. Among them is a water gun that shoots jelly. Why in the world is that toy on the Island of Misfit Toys? I would pay good money for a squirt gun that shoots jelly!!!

40:05--Fearing that his nose is getting his friends in trouble with the Abominable Snowman, Rudolph heads out on his own.

41:00--During the commercial break there is an ad for Halos, those cute little oranges, which features a psychotic little girl leaving a stuffed horses head in her dad's bed to send a message to him that she needs more Halos. Here's a link: (I find this a bit disturbing.)

44:45--Rudolph arrives back at Santa's village to find that his Mom, Clarice, and Donner are all missing because they went out to search for him. Is Santa concerned? Not about Clarice or Rudolph's Mom. Selfish Santa only worries that "without Donner I'll never get my sleigh off the ground." (Yes, he's still a jerk.)

46:05--Rudolph goes to the cave of the Abominable Snowman, where he finds the lost Donner party. (They have not yet resorted to cannibalism.) (Yes, I know that's a lame Donner Party joke, but I just couldn't help myself.)

47:50--After the Abominable has captured Rudolph, Hermey and Yukon Cornelius come to the rescue.

48:55--Hermey practices dentistry (literally) by pulling all of the Abominable Snowman's teeth.

49:30--Yukon Cornelius wrestles the Abominable Snowman over a cliff to their seeming death.

49:58--Back at Santa's workshop, Santa, the Elf Boss, and Donner all give half-hearted apologies.

50:45--What's the best way to make friends with an Abominable Snowman? Apparently, pull out all of his teeth and throw him over a cliff. The Abominable is now so friendly that he helps put the star on the top of the Christmas tree. "Lookie what he can do!" declares Yukon Cornelius.

51:20--We finally see Mrs. Claus again and, once more, she is trying to force Santa to eat and get fat.

52:20--A winter storm is so fierce that Santa declares that he is going to have to cancel Christmas.

52:20--Santa finally decides to fully accept Rudolph for his differences. Why? Because he has grown and realizes he was being a jerk? No! He finally accepts Rudolph because he figures a way he can use him for his own best interests!

53:00--Donner continues to prove himself to be a jerk. He says, "I knew that nose would be useful someday! I knew it all along!" No one believes him. (The jerk.)

54:30--Mrs. Claus force-feeds Santa one last time.

57:51--With Rudolph leading the way, Santa picks up the toys from the Island of Misfit Toys.

58:30--Isn't Santa supposed to deliver toys by going down the chimney and placing them under the tree? So why exactly is he having elves throw the misfit toys out of the sleigh in mid-air as they are flying through the sky? Seems a little harsh, doesn't it? (Personally, I think this Santa is still a jerk.)

So, there you have it. I really don't think this version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer would fly (figuratively speaking) if someone tried to make it today. But that's okay, because it's been deemed a "classic." We'll still be showing it to our kids and grandkids for years to come. And they'll all wonder why everyone was such a jerk back in 1964.

Edited from the original post on 12/15/15.

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