This season is filled with plenty of fun, classic songs and carols, from such famous songs as “White Christmas” and “The Little Drummer Boy” to more obscure ones such as “Did Mary Know?” and “Christmas Bells”(this last one? a Snoop vs the Red Baron song). It even has novelty songs, like “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” and “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” However, as I listen to all these songs, I realize that the worst message is sent in….”Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer.”
Let us stop and think about this song. Here we have a Reindeer who has a deformity, and is mocked and made fun of by other Reindeer. At first, it seems like the song is trying to gain our sympathy for this Rudolf. However, at the end, the moment of “everyone loves him” is when Santa asks for Rudolf to help him guide his sleigh on a foggy Christmas Eve.
So, the first thing to ask is: Has Santa NEVER had to fly on a foggy Christmas Eve before? Most likely he has, so, what did he do previously? Could not have used Rudolf, because, hey, Rudolf wasn’t there before, or was too busy being mocked and bullied. So, what is Santa’s going to Rudolf about? Think about it: a kind, old elf sees poor Rudolf being picked on, bullied, probably robbed of his lunch money for Reindeer School every day, day in, day out. Rudolf’s parents(who are they? The little carol doe snot say!) take no action, apparently silently condoning the actions of the others..oh, wait..no, they are included in the “all of the other reindeer,” so, guess what? Rudolf is being psychologically abused by his own parents! Obviously, Santa saw this, and made his request to give Rudolf some form of self-esteem, maybe Santa even felt pity on poor little Rudolf.
What happens? Suddenly, all the other Reindeer, who, perhaps just minutes before, were harassing poor Rudolf to the point where he could have been in tears and just wanting to disappear, love him? Really? So…he gets a job because of his derided deformity, and suddenly he is popular? Because he is useful? What kind of message is that to send to children? “It is OK to abuse deformed people, so long as they are not useful. When they are, you have to pretend to love them.” Because, face it, does anyone think Rudolf’s popularity lasted more then a few weeks at best? Who thinks that as soon as it was past when he was needed and useful, the other reindeer forgot, and went right back to picking on this poor reindeer? The prejudice and hatred were still there, after all….Or, maybe the abuse got worse, since Rudolf has had the audacity to step beyond his “place” in the bigoted, close-minded reindeer culture? Who knows, maybe a few weeks after the song, poor Rudolf is found dead, his head caved in and a wall of silence presented to the Elf Police investigating?
So, yeah…think about that the next time you hear that deceptively cheerful song….