December
2nd 2009
“Rudoph’s” Santa: total frickin’ nightmare

Posted under: American history, art, bad language, childhood, GLBTQ, the body, wankers

(WARNING:  NSFW or small children.)  This guy has it exactly right:  Santa, or Satan?  I’ve long thought that the Santa in the Rankin-Bass claymation “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was a major-league jerk (or d!ck, or d-bag, as this video suggests.  H/t to commenter Mother of ALL for sending it along.)  Also, Donner is clearly a Hockey Dad who’s guaranteed to get evicted from the arena at least once a season.

hermieI grew up watching this animated feature, I usually catch it when it’s on broadcast TV during the “Holiday Season,” and I’ve really wondered about the piling on by the adult figures in the first half of the show.  Then again, it’s probably on balance a good show for children, because it features a major hero in gay history, our pal Hermie, the aspiring dentist!  Hermie, Rudolph, and all of the “misfit toys” are clearly stand-ins for disabled, gay, fat, immigrant, or for any kid who gets teased about something on a regular basis.

18 Comments »

18 Responses to ““Rudoph’s” Santa: total frickin’ nightmare”

  1. life_of_a_fool on 02 Dec 2009 at 4:47 pm #

    that is awesome.

  2. Oroboros on 02 Dec 2009 at 4:53 pm #

    Yes that was awesome. I grew up on those movies.

    The real reason I don’t have children is that I would probably corrupt them with alternate Santa myths and this would get me into Big Trouble with other parents.

    I probably wouldn’t be able to contain stories like the one where Odin slays a reindeer and turns its coat inside out which is where Santa’s red and white trimmed suit might come from.

    The alternate explanation for the coat I’d offer would relate to the apparent use of Amanita muscaria by the true shamans who, knowing its toxicity, fed it to reindeer before drinking their urine. I really don’t know how much if any truth there is and rather than provide links, I’ll leave it up to anyone curious to ask google.

  3. Anastasia on 02 Dec 2009 at 7:49 pm #

    “I probably wouldn’t be able to contain stories like the one where Odin slays a reindeer and turns its coat inside out which is where Santa’s red and white trimmed suit might come from.”

    That might be one of the best things I’ve ever heard. Thank you.

  4. Western Dave on 02 Dec 2009 at 8:47 pm #

    Hermy (as in hermaphrodite) isn’t just queer, he’s Jewish right? Along with everybody else on (Long) Island of Misfit Toys and that gold grubbing miner.

  5. Oroboros on 02 Dec 2009 at 9:50 pm #

    And that name is awfully close to himey for comfort isn’t it?

    Rudolph was on earlier and so I watched about half of it. The best quote I caught was this one:

    There are more important things than comfort like self-respect. Santa can’t laugh at you now.

    What a miserable model for self-respect that presents to children.

  6. HistoryMaven on 02 Dec 2009 at 10:44 pm #

    It just wasn’t Christmas until the Norelco commercial, when Santa sledded down a snowy hill riding an electric razor, appeared with this special. “Noelco!”

    My siblings and I were more interested in the toy commercials and we always wondered why we had to give Dad an electric razor. What a crummy gift! Never did like this special; we were more a “Charlie Brown Christmas” and Crosby-Kaye-Clooney “White Christmas” family. Thank goodness that really awful Mr. Magoo as Ebenezer Scrooge cartoon disappeared.

  7. Indyanna on 02 Dec 2009 at 11:20 pm #

    I remember the Norelco Santa spot too, with real fondness. I was kind of partial to “Miracle on 34th Street” myself, on the film side. “White Christmas” is a great nostalgic tale, but the last time I saw it (or maybe its clone and or studio predecessor, “Holiday Inn”) I was really shocked at the casual racism of some of the holiday themed skits–which went right by me as a kid. What the world was like in the ’30s, and 40s, and 50s, and 60s…

  8. Clio Bluestocking on 03 Dec 2009 at 4:54 am #

    Awe. Some.

    You know, now that I think about it, at the end, although all of the misfits emerge heroic and accepted, the whole goal is for them to be accepted by such jerks as Santa and Donner. That’s a set up for a life time of abusive relationships if there ever was one.

    A better ending would have Rudolph and the Misfit Toys giving the double bird to the jerkhead and yelling “Bite me, Santa!”

  9. Miranda on 03 Dec 2009 at 5:36 am #

    I always hated that show. It would have been much better if Rudolph hadn’t rescued everyone and/or told Santa ‘bite me, Beard Boy’ when asked to lead the sleigh team.

    But then, A Christmas Carol always brings out my inner Libertarian. Scrooge needed to learn how to enjoy his wealth, but that was as far as it needed to go ;) And where were all the ghosts when he was being treated badly as a kid?

  10. Historiann on 03 Dec 2009 at 8:00 am #

    Clio Bluestocking wrote: “You know, now that I think about it, at the end, although all of the misfits emerge heroic and accepted, the whole goal is for them to be accepted by such jerks as Santa and Donner. That’s a set up for a life time of abusive relationships if there ever was one.”

    Exactly! There’s not a lot of learning or growing on the part of the bullies, is there? Oh well: at least Hermie and Rudolph get a really loving daddy-figure in Yukon Cornelius, who’s also kind of a freak himself.

    Thanks for all of your comments–glad you enjoyed it, too!

  11. Paul on 03 Dec 2009 at 8:46 am #

    Good points. I liked this special when I was a kid, but looking at it again makes it seem more problematic. As another online review that I saw put it, the message seems to be “it’s OK to be different – as long as you do something extraordinary like saving Christmas.”

  12. GayProf on 03 Dec 2009 at 9:43 am #

    I never actually liked this particular special. Now I know why.

  13. Historiann on 03 Dec 2009 at 10:13 am #

    GayProf: just because you failed to save Christmas is no reason to cast aspersions on Rudolph!

  14. ej on 03 Dec 2009 at 10:25 am #

    I do think there is a redeeming gender message here, though. If I’m remembering correctly, it was Clarice and Rudolph’s Mom (?) who went in search of him, because they didn’t buy the b.s. about the nose being a problem, so its really only the male characters (Hermey excepted) who were the jerks.

    So as long as you end the show before Rudolph’s “redemption” at the end, I’m totally on board with the message.

  15. justme on 03 Dec 2009 at 10:32 am #

    I love this.

    A few years ago my ultimate inner geek came out at Christmas when I analyzed Rudolph in the context of the Cold War. Rudolf, Hermy, etc were gays and other “misfits” of society, in one of my interpretations Cornelius was Capitalism (or the United States, I can’t remember exactly), and the Bumble was Communism.

    I blame it on a house full of extended family and too much food.

  16. Oroboros on 03 Dec 2009 at 12:58 pm #

    Hah! When I saw it last night Sam the Snowman said something about the Bumble that made me think it was a more generic representation of Big Government- “just try to stay out of its way and hope it leaves you alone” or something like that.

    It reminded me of the most extreme Libertarian views I know. Government cannot possibly ever do anything good according to some, even as they drive on government-maintained road and send their kids to government-run schools and drink government-filtered water.

    Of course, that water is treated with fluoride which was always the real communist plot. So I’m just indoctrinated with the Komrade Kool-AID.

  17. Historiann on 03 Dec 2009 at 2:49 pm #

    ej, you’re absolutely right. The women and girls in “Rudolph” are virtuous and heroic. The bad dads are really, really bad.

    justme and Oroboros: I’ve thought about the Bumble historically too, but I think it’s just a personification of “fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror. . .”

  18. Sungold on 06 Dec 2009 at 1:28 am #

    I posted on this clip and the assholish Donner character around this time last year. He reminded me then – and he still reminds me – of an exceptionally sadistic P.E. teacher I had in junior high. Glad I’m not the only person who’s thin-skinned about bullies, even 30 years later.