in the fade

  1. The True Story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

    Before you all go grab your latest issue of TV Guide and start circling the various holiday specials you intend to watch, I’d like to talk to you about something.

    Rudolph. Is there a creature so beloved as that red-nosed reindeer? Is there any stop-motion animated movie that tugs at your heart more? No, of course not. You will gather – and by you I mean everyone; Christians, Jews, Atheists, Satanists – in front of the tv with or without children at some point in December to watch this time-honored tale.

    Well, I’m here to put a stop to that. Rudolph is not a cuddly, warm, fuzzy story.Rudolph, in fact, is a tale of pacifism and appeasement and mental abuse.

    When Rudolph is first discovered to have the light bulb nose, his father is appalled. Ashamed, he tries to cover up his son’s nose. What kind of father is that? He is telling his kid right off the bat, kid, you’re ugly and you embarrass me. Disguise yourself in public, you malformed little bastard. Right then and there someone should have called social services to tell them that there was a brute of a stag emotionally damaging his child. I mean, the poor kid has a disfigurement. They should have been helping him, not making him feel even worse about it. His parents, instead of encouraging him to embrace his uniqueness or be proud of all his other wonderful attributes, instill in him a sense of shame for being who he is. Never mind that either one or both of the parents had some gene that gave Rudolph this disfigurement or the father is a drunk and this is the reindeer version of fetal alcohol syndrome. Either way, Rudie’s not to blame for his light brite nose, but the father doesn’t explain this. Instead, he treats his only son as if he were a zit on prom night and tries to cover up the blemish.

    Eventually, everyone finds out about Rudie’s nose. Of course, the kids torment him and pick on him and turn him into an outcast. He’s not allowed to join in their games because he is, gasp!, different. A freak. A weirdo. Shun him!

    All of the other reindeer, well, they used to call him names. And not let him play their reindeer games. Sorry, Rudolph, my mom said you’re too ugly to come over and play Rock Band with us. And, I wanted to invite you to my birthday party, Rudie, but I just can’t be seen with you. No hard feelings, k?

    Rudolph makes himself a tumblr where he lists his mood as “bleak” and post videos of himself with his nose covered in bandages, singing along to Taking Back Sunday songs. His life is a series of suicidal poetry, ridicule, isolation and endless viewings of Heathers.

    So what happens? Does Rudolph finally have enough of the bullying, dons a trenchcoat, listens to Marilyn Manson and mows down his enemies? No, Rudolph goes off on an adventure. He escapes his problems instead of confronting them. When you think about it, running away on adventure isn’t so bad, as he could have turned to a life on the streets, doing “favors” for old barflys in exchange for salt licks.

    Anyhow, on this adventure of his he meets up with elves and a prospector and an abominable snowman who all in one way or another teach him valuable lessons about life, love and friendship and of reaching for your dreams and being proud of who you are, all lessons his bastard parents should have taught him. Eventually he meets up with Santa and you know what happens. It’s time to turn our zero into a hero. Santa’s too drunk to drive the sleigh on Christmas night and Rudolph gets to be the designated driver. Wait, that was a different version. Oh yes. The blinding snowstorm that threatens to cancel Christmas. If only there was some way to see through the storm! If only there was some kind of light that could guide us! If only reindeer could fly……Rudolph! With your nose of bright! Won’t you drive Santa’s sleigh tonight? So, instead of investing in headlights for his sleigh, Santa decides to put some reigns on Rudolph and turn on his nose light.

    The rest of the reindeer gang find out that Rudolph is going to lead Santa’s sleigh through the snowstorm. Well, look at that. Hey, the kid is a freak, but he’s a useful freak. You know what happens. They suddenly love him. He’s a hero. Even though he’s been scorned and ridiculed and isolated, the other reindeer discover that they can use Rudolph’s disfigurement to their advantage, so now they’ll let him in their little club.

    And what does Rudolph do? He leads the damn sleigh and saves the day. Now, everyone in this movie – from Rudolph’s parents to his girlfriend to Santa, plus all the other reindeer and even the Yukon guy – mock him throughout or at least make him feel like an ugly, useless misfit. Apparently, Rudolph has no balls. If he did – and if he learned anything on that great adventure of his – Rudolph would have turned around and said fuck off and die you miserable bastards. Find some other sucker to save Christmas for you. And then he would take out his AK-47 and turn the whole crowd of miserable reindeer into a carnivore’s dream. Then he would go back to the Island of Misfit Toys, become their ruler and plot to take over all of Rankin-Bass land.

    Instead, he uses the very thing that everyone made fun of to make all his tormentors happy and to become accepted. Do you understand how wrong that is? This is all his father’s fault. Dad turned Rudolph into the reindeer equivalent of a nerd when he taught Rudie to just take the abuse from his neighbors and classmates and let him believe he deserved it. After all, he was hideously deformed. In essence, he taught his son not to stand up for himself. And that lesson would follow Rudolph his entire life, through high school and college and after, where at office Christmas parties he would get drunk and let everyone take turns lighting up his nose because it was the only way to get noticed.

    Parents, don’t let your babies grow up to be Rudolphs.