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.
Here it is. Steven's blog, where his thoughts about things are revealed. Good luck.