We all have our rituals when it comes to the holidays, and a great many of them involve movies and television. Maybe it’s watching the twenty-four hour A Christmas Story marathon while wrapping last minute gifts. Maybe it’s reciting every line in A Christmas Vacation. Maybe it’s decorating a gingerbread house while Die Hard plays in the background, and then throwing that half-finished gingerbread house on the floor because you just can’t keep it together for one goddamn day, can you KAREN?
One of my rituals as a kid was watching the Rankin/Bass stop-motion animated special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It was always my favorite of the animated holiday specials because I liked any story about the North Pole. Next to “Ariel’s underwater kingdom”, the North Pole was my favorite fantasy realm as a kid. I liked any story that had to do with the North Pole, most especially if it was about people living at the North Pole. My love for the North Pole extended beyond my years believing in Santa Claus—at sixteen, I wrote a torrid romance novel about a grumpy pilot who flew people to the North Pole, and the spunky reindeer trainer who got under his skin. (They had a real Tracy/Hepburn thing going on. The manuscript was awful.)
But at some point, I stopped watching Rudolph every Christmas. It was impossible to keep up my ritual through college, when it seemed I was always studying for finals when the animated holiday specials started up. And once the ritual was broken, that was it. I hadn’t seen Rudolph in years. UNTIL NOW. Thanks to Deja View, I have a reason to rekindle my love of the North Pole and revisit Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, beloved children’s classic, and I have some thoughts.
1. I don’t remember the snowpocalypse opening at all. Already, this does not bode well.
2. Sam the Snowman wears a vest, shirt, and tie, but no pants. Nothing is creepier than anthropomorphic beings in children’s cartoons that don’t wear pants. It’s like a subliminal message reminding us that perverts exist.
3. Mrs. Claus is growling, “Eat! Eat!” at Santa in a vaguely threatening manner. Either she’s a cannibal and plans to eat him later, or they have a feeder relationship. No judgment.
4. Also, the Clauses refer to each other as “Maw” and “Pawpaw”. Did this used to be cute? All I can see now is Mike Pence looking at his wife and saying, “Mother.”
5. Do you think Sam the Snowman knows Mister Police?
6. I don’t trust Sam the Snowman’s beady little eyes.
7. Rudolph is a newborn and he already knows Santa. Is this some kind of cult programming.
8. Presented without comment: “Every year I shine up my jingle bells.”
9. You know Rudolph’s dad, Donner, is going to be a jerk because his eyes are designed with a downward slant, the animation shorthand for perpetually unhappy.
10. I’m pretty sure these elves are being kept in the North Pole in some kind of Oompa-Loompa/slave situation.
11. Reminder: Herbie the Would-Be Dentist Elf is a plot point on an episode of Justified.
12. “Such is the life of an elf.” Is it?
13. I forgot how f*cking mundane this makes life look in the North Pole. It’s all inspections and singing about how hard you work and Santa doesn’t ever really like anything.
14. They are DEFINITELY forcing these elves into some kind of behavioral program. Am starting to suspect Santa is, in fact, running a cult.
15. Comet: “Even though I’m your instructor, I also want to be your pal.” I had a gym teacher who wanted to be pals. He was eventually arrested for assaulting a student. STAY AWAY FROM COMET.
16. “Donner, you should be ashamed of yourself.” For what? Having a kid with a physical difference? I don’t remember Rudolph copping this judgy attitude at all.
17. Oh wow, I REALLY don’t remember Yukon Cornelius. I don’t know if I’ve forgotten so much of Rudolph because it’s been years since I’ve seen it, or because the North Pole is a depressing sweatshop-cult situation and I blanked it out on purpose.
18. What is the deal with Yukon Cornelius? Like what’s his backstory? Is he Santa’s brother who didn’t make the Claus cut and so is forced to wander the outskirts of the North Pole, searching for his fortune? Or is he an escapee of Santa’s cult?
19. For real though, the Island of Misfit Toys is super creepy. On the list of Things That Are Creepy, broken/deformed children’s toys rank #3 (behind ghost children and children singing).
20. King Moonracer the winged lion is awesome. Besides being a winged lion, he lets the misfit toys just like, hang out and do whatever. He’s probably not running a cult.
21. Does the...does the Abominable Snow Monster have nipples?
22. So Herbie pulls out all the Abominable Snow Monster’s teeth, and then he is immediately recruited into Santa’s forced-decorating squad. Does Santa do anything that doesn’t involve forcing everyone around him into subservience? Why is Santa such a creep?
23. Sweet childhood memory forever altered: This whole story is about Rudolph becoming a functional member of Santa’s cult.