I have enjoyed watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer ever since I was a kid. I remember sitting in front of my TV, Christmas cookies in hand, delighting in the wonderful adventures of that red-nosed little guy and his friends. I haven’t missed a year since. And today, as I eat a bowl of Christmas Crunch cereal, I’m watching it again . . . but this time, for a different reason. I am watching it today to pinpoint the moments that give me pause. The moments that cause me to question what life is really like in Christmas Town. Here, in no particular order other than order of importance, are 10 questions for which I have no answers:
10. Why does Fireball turn on Rudolph when he discovers that Rudolph has a red nose?
Rudolph and Fireball are fast friends when they meet at the reindeer games. They laugh, play, and Fireball even encourages Rudolph to go talk to that bow-wearing vixen, Clarice. But later, when they’re playfully locking horns, Rudolph’s prosthetic nose (how did this nose even get made?) falls off. Fireball’s eyes go all crazy, and he turns on Rudolph like the others. Why? Because you think he’s a freak, Fireball? Have you considered the fact that you are the only reindeer with blond hair and freckles?
9. Who trained those in charge on how to work with their staff?
Seriously, both the coach and the head elf are terrible leaders. Coach finds out that Rudolph has a red nose and then mocks him in front of his peers by sending him away and then saying “We’re not going to let Rudolph play in any reindeer games – right, guys?” What a jerk. And the head elf is no better. Hermie tells him that he doesn’t like to make toys. So what does the head elf do? Does he pull him aside, away from all the other elves, and explain to him the importance of what he does? The happiness that he brings to children everywhere? No, he doesn’t. He blasts him in front of everyone, openly mocking his life choices and then yelling out “Hermie doesn’t like to make toys!” This leads to all kinds of gossip right in front of Hermie, like an elf version of the telephone game. And now Hermie feels awful. I’m sure he’s really motivated to be a team player now.
The actions of both the coach and the head elf lead to one very important question: Who trained them? Let’s go straight to the top.
8. Why is this Santa a bad CEO?
Sure, he makes toys for all the good girl and boys (although the naughty list is never mentioned, perhaps because almost everyone in Christmas Town would be on it). But if you examine those in authority who report directly to Santa (see #9), their poor treatment of subordinates must be learned. And is. From the big man himself, who clearly cares only about the bottom line. When Rudolph returns after being gone for months and asks Santa where his family is, Santa says they went looking for him. No mention of a search party, or the fact that a child (Clarice) is missing too. All that Santa cares about is not having Donner to lead his sleigh.
And his day-to-day interactions with his employees perfectly exemplify the type of CEO he is. A day after Christmas, A DAY, the elves are performing a song that the head elf just wrote. And sure, the choreography is dreadful, but the song is delightful. But Santa hates it and criticizes them – harshly. Mrs. Claus tries to defend the elves, but her feelings are dismissed (the way all the females’ feelings are in this special). Santa leaves in a huff, telling the elf choir that they better improve.
Why? Their job is to make toys, not to entertain him. Especially the day after Christmas. I would imagine that they’ve been a little busy. MAKING TOYS. (As a side note, the head elf appears to have somewhat of a Sybil issue in this scene because he has two distinctly different voices.)
7. Why would anyone want Hermie as their dentist?
Hermie learned everything he knows about dentistry from a book. No training except for his using a hammer on dolls’ teeth. A HAMMER. His only living client, Bumble, is treated by having all his teeth yanked out. So, two clients: one who gets hit with a hammer and the other who loses all his teeth. What?
Not only are his techniques suspect – his schedule management is highly questionable too. Near the end, Hermie schedules an appointment for the head elf. For like two weeks later. I’m not sure why he can’t do it, I don’t know, like tomorrow. But I do know this: If I’m the head elf and the elf I made leave in shame wants to work on my mouth and I know what he considers “dentistry,” I think I’d stick with a mouth full of cavities.
6. Speaking of Hermie, why is he living in a snowbank?
After Clarice finishes singing “There’s Always Tomorrow” and she’s yanked away by her father, who later shows zero concern for her whereabouts (there’s that treatment of female characters again), Rudolph falls into a snowbank. Hermie pops out, looks at Rudolph, and says “Oh, is this your snowbank?”
Okay, A, why would it be anyone’s snowbank, Hermie? And B, was THIS your plan? To run away from Christmas Town to . . . live in a snowbank? That’s terrible. Then Rudolph and Hermie decide to be freaks together, and Rudolph says they can hang as long as Hermie doesn’t mind his red nose. And Hermie says “Well, as long as you don’t mind me being a dentist.” You’re not a dentist yet, Hermie but you were living in a snowbank. And if I were Rudolph, I’d be more concerned about that.
5. Why won’t Santa eat?
Mrs. Claus makes it abundantly clear that, even though it’s not healthy, people want a fat Santa. Okay. So why doesn’t he eat? Has he became health conscious? Is he eating too much between meals? Is he being a stubborn petulant elf? No. The reason he won’t eat is clear. Ms. Claus feeds him what appears to be purple clay. It doesn’t even look like food. It looks more like the fork. And the plate. And the walls. The only people who would eat that are three-year-olds, and then only accidentally.
Notice that when Mrs. C finally feeds Santa something real (soup, of all things), he gains 300 pounds instantly. So why doesn’t she do that at the beginning? Why the purple clay?
4. Is Ms. Claus happy in her relationship with Santa?
This one I can answer: No. And why would she be? They clearly aren’t getting along, and Santa sees her more as a mother figure than a wife. Where’s the romance? Where are the moonlit dinners? Where’s the thank you? Nowhere – because this Santa clearly doesn’t value the others around him, especially not his wife. So Mrs. Claus stays in the shadow, feeling unappreciated, and doles out purple clay as if everything’s okay. But it’s clearly not. And I don’t think Ms. Claus can put up with this one-sided relationship for an eternity. If Santa doesn’t change his ways, his Christmas present may be an empty bed.
3. Why are there misfit toys?
Seriously, think about it: Let’s say that Santa and his elves make all the toys. That would mean that they originally made these misfit toys. That some elf made a train with square wheels, a gun that shoots jam, a doll suffering from major depression, a cowboy riding an ostrich, an elephant that has spots but is completely adorable, and many others. Why would they be made if Santa knew that they would be unwanted in the first place? It seems rather cruel. And their only dream is to get back into Santa’s bag and be given out by the same person who made them misfits in the first place?
How could this possibly be a good idea? Have you seen how misfits are treated in Christmas Town? And when Santa promises to find them a good home, why didn’t he do it the first time? Because the truth is . . . he doesn’t like things that are different. Misfits.
2. Why does losing all of his teeth make Bumble humble?
He’s still huge. Still has giant claws. And he hated anything to do with Christmas. So why did losing all his teeth change this? Shouldn’t he be angrier? He’s a carnivore who’s now going to eat what? Snow? Ms. Claus’s purple clay? He shouldn’t be humble. He should have ripped them apart with his bare hands. (Note: I’m not saying that should have actually happened in the movie, I’m just saying that it would have been logical if he had.) Later, adding insult to injury, he lets Yukon pull him by a rope around the neck, so that he can brag to the good folks of Christmas about crushing his spirit. Making him “humble.” Then Bumble puts on the star on tree for a holiday that he doesn’t even celebrate. Why? Perhaps his teeth were like Samson’s hair. I don’t really have an answer. This one really bothered me as a kid too.
1. Why is Rudolph’s nose the thing that keeps Santa from canceling Christmas?
It’s clearly a major storm. Christmas trees were damaged, shingles were ripped off buildings, and homes were completely buried in snow. So Santa quickly cancels Christmas until he finds he has a red flashlight to guide his way. What? It’s not even that bright. And how did you see all those other years in the dark without Rudolph’s nose? I thought the problem was the storm, you know, the snow and the gale-force winds, and a red nose doesn’t stop any of this. Or does it? When you watch the end, you see that there was no storm. Just a regular night. Which kind of negates Rudolph’s unique usefulness.
Even accepting all of the above, you’re still left with an absolutely charming Christmas special. Because in the end, Rudolph does the right thing. When Santa asks him “Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?” logically, he should have said no. And walked away. But he doesn’t. He says yes. Perhaps he did it for the kids. Or to take his dad’s spot because his dad was clearly not part of this year’s team. Most likely, though, it was to show Santa that so-called misfits have a place too. Which is something I think we should all be grateful for.
Or are you? Perhaps you are merely being judged by your outward appearance and your resting mean face. Maybe it’s not meanness at all. Maybe you are lashing out at a society and a people, our delightful yet not diverse Whos (except for one random human), who enjoy a life of excess in a beautiful mountain community full of wonderfully bizarre contraptions, while you spend your days in a cave with a dog?
I love Christmas specials, and since I believe myself a writer of things, I have decided to evaluate those specials every year. This year, I’m taking a look at that Christmas classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. And, as always, after watching it, I have some questions.
1. Does the title actually work?
Short answer? No. He did manage to steal everything during the transition between Christmas Eve to Christmas day but . . . (spoiler alert) Christmas still came, despite his efforts. So maybe How the Grinch Almost Stole Christmas would be more appropriate. Yes, I realize that title would give the ending away, but a) most people would likely assume that the Grinch doesn’t actually succeed in the stealing of Christmas because, well, it’s a Christmas special and b) if you don’t change the title, it’s a bald faced lie.
3. Is the reason for the Grinch’s not liking Christmas really because his heart is two sizes too small? After eliminating tight shoes and his head not being screwed on just right, we are told that the Grinch’s meanness is caused by his heart being physically two sizes too small. But if his heart is the size they want it to be, it won’t make him more loving. It will make him more dead. Severe cardiomegaly, anyone? Maybe the reason he’s mean is because you call him “The Grinch” and he has no other companionship besides a dog? Are there no other Grinches somewhere? Why is he the only one, like Tigger or Gonzo? What a lonely, depressing life he must lead. Perhaps, Whos, if you opened your heart and invited him to celebrate Christmas with you, he would like Christmas instead of wanting to destroy it.
4. Who names everything after themselves?
The Whos, that’s who. The name of the town that the Whos live in is Whoville (try doing that in the real world), and pretty much everything else was named Who something or other. And what the heck exactly is a “rare Who Roast Beast?” Is it just their arrogance shining though, or are the Whos actually cannibals? I don’t know, but I do know that our narrator (Boris Karloff) can’t stand the rare Who Roast Beast “in the least.” I have no idea why he had to call it out, though. Well, he is really condescending to the Grinch so maybe it makes sense. Also, why are there like five servants serving Cindy Lou Whoman personally? Is it a strawberry? No. It’s a Whoberry.
5. The thing the Grinch hates the most should make it abundantly clear why he feels the way he does about Christmas.
He complains that the Whos “Stand close together, hand in hand, and sing.” I have no idea why that would bother someone who spends all his time alone except for his pet who’s terrified of him. Oh, right. Because hedoesn’t have anyone to stand close together with, hand in hand with and sing. Empathy, Whos!
6. Why did it take him 53 years to come up with the plan to steal Christmas?
Seriously, it seems pretty straightforward. If he hated it so much, shouldn’t he have come up with the plan like, say, I don’t know, at least 45 years ago? Why would “steal everything” take so long to come up with?
7. That song.
Highly insulting and offers no specific reasons why he is so awful. Just opinions. And why should we value this narrator’s opinion? Because he can’t stand rare Who Roast Beast? Because he’s omniscient? Because he has a striking voice? Well, I for one don’t value his opinion. Give me facts, Boris, you elitist.
8. Why doesn’t Santa wear pants?
So you create a coat, a hat, and even boots, yet . . . no pants for your Santa? Or even decorative underwear? Questionable. Also, there was no mention of Santa until now. The Whos had no “Santa” themed decorations, so why are you dressing up like Santa? Bringing in a character this late in the game seems more like a plot device. And if you’re going to play the Santa card, would Santa let the Grinch take everything? Doubtful. And where was Santa when the Grinch was robbing everything? Shouldn’t they have crossed paths at some point?
9. Who goes to sleep holding candy canes?
10. Who’s going to catch him? Cindy Lou Human, that’s who.
Oh wait, the Grinch tells a terrible lie and Cindy falls for it. Man, humans ruin everything.
11. How in the world did that dog make it up the mountain with the complete contents of an entire town?That’s super impressive. There must be like a billion pounds of stuff and the dog who struggled going down the mountain (taking a route that, by the way, was completely illogical) valiantly makes the climb. That dog is a beast.
12. Despite having everything taken, Christmas still came. And the Whos sing.
Okay this is beautiful and meaningful. Christmas isn’t about what you get, but before singing, shouldn’t someone call the police or something? The contents of every house have been stolen. That’s bad. And alarming. Shouldn’t someone in Whoville be the voice of logic and say “Guys, guys. Let’s just hold off on the singalong until the authorities get here.” I mean, you clearly know who did it and you even have an eyewitness. Shouldn’t take too long to wrap this case up and get back to the singing.
13. After seeing that Christmas is so much more, what happens? So many more questions. If his heart grew three sizes (not the two it needed), how will it fit in his chest? Does he need a new name? Is he now an accepted part of the community? Will he be arrested or at least forced to pay for damages? Will the Grinch and his dog work through their abusive relationship or go their separate ways? Will the Who Servants rise up and form a union? Will the Whos force the narrator to try rare Who Roast Beast again? Will the Grinch be allowed to carry on half- or full-on naked? Will the Whos put up a wall after what happened with the Grinch, or will they realize, after spending time with the Grinch, that they should be more open to all types of people and work to make sure that everyone feels like they belong? Will the Grinch and the Narrator work on a new theme song for him?
There you go. So as you sit and watch How the Grinch Stole (or didn’t steal) Christmas this year, ponder these questions and perhaps . . . create some of your own to ponder.
Here it is. Steven's blog, where his thoughts about things are revealed. Good luck.