With Christmas again upon us, it may be time to take a clear-eyed, candid look at a subject many might regard as too controversial for frank discussion, too fraught with sectarian turbulence. I’m aware that by doing so I’m risking the wrath of Bill O’Reilly along with the scorn of the Mensa members at Fox and Friends. But some issues deserve to be faced full on, consequences be damned, and this is one of them. I am referring, of course, to “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”
That song is a moral and psychological abomination.
Consider, for a start, the appalling behavior of “all the other reindeer” (and please note it’s all the other reindeer, without a single exception). These reindeer are, one assumes, meant to be understood as admirable, even lovable creatures, vital members of the eleemosynary team working under a veritable saint. And how do these paragons act? They single out one of their number and mock him for a physical deformity. They essentially blackball him from their social and recreational activities, all because he looks different from them. This is exactly the kind of mean-spirited bullying that society no longer deems acceptable. Any society, that is, except, it appears, the North Pole’s.
Is Santa unaware of the cruelty in his midst? It’s hard to imagine that anyone capable of organizing an operation as complex as the one he undertakes every Christmas Eve, and who in addition knows if every child in the world has been sleeping or awake and has been naughty or nice, could be so oblivious. So are we to assume he approves? Is indifferent? Thinks the elves can handle it?
I, for one, would not want animals such as these anywhere near my roof. And that feeling is entirely independent of the miserable, dangerous Christmas Day clean-up their visit usually entails.
And how credible is the song’s conclusion? Let’s try a little thought experiment. Suppose you work in an office, and one of your fellow workers is universally despised. Shunned at lunch, avoided at the annual office party, ignored at the annual retreat, subject to rolled eyes raised eyebrows, snarky emails, malicious pranks. And let’s further posit that your boss has unexpectedly given him a major promotion, so that he now ranks, for all intents and purposes, as your superior. Do you really think you and your colleagues would suddenly love him? Would shout his praises with glee? Or would you, rather, glue his desk drawers shut, TP his cubicle, and post Xeroxes of your ass on his wall when he isn’t looking?
I think we know the answer. And what’s more, I think in his heart of hearts Gene Autry knew the answer too.