31 days of festive-ass flicks, day four: rudolph

Day four of festive-ass flicks was a double feature: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the 1947 Max Fleischer short and the 1964 Rankin/Bass television special. [Here is the calendar if you want to check it out/follow along at home!]

The Max Fleischer version is part of a collection of holiday shorts that are rather notorious for being of-the-era racist. Luckily, since this one’s about reindeer, it’s not so much of an issue. ALTHOUGH IT MIGHT BE. I am white and we are notoriously bad at recognizing obvious issues that are right in front of our faces.

Honestly, the whole thing was pretty forgettable. I know I must have seen it as a kid because I vaguely remembered the animation and the terrifying two-legged way the reindeer walk and interact with one another.

Rudolph’s mom is kind of a babe and the other reindeer are enormous dicks (which is just part of what makes the story what it is) and Santa reacts to fog like a drunk-ass driver. Every time I think about Rudolph’s story in general I have to wonder what the fuck Santa did all the other times that Christmas Eve weather was a little rough. Like, we are supposed to believe that EVERY OTHER CHRISTMAS EVE IN HISTORY was pleasant and clear the entire world over? Sit the hell down.

ALSO, Santa’s got a real big opinion of his job: “Rudolph, my boy, they’ll envy you now far and near for no greater honor can come to a deer then riding with Santa and guiding my sleigh, the number one job on the number one day.” Like, whoa, slow your confidence roll, Kringle. Being a part of Santa’s crew is great and all, but I am sure there are all kinds of other reindeer jobs that are just as fulfilling and important.

Watching the Rankin/Bass version was a lot more personally traumatic/important to me because I never saw it as a kid because I was scared of claymation. I didn’t see anything claymation until The Nightmare Before Christmas and I waited like… five years after that came out to finally watch it. And by then I was like 14. I KNOW IT IS WEIRD TO BE AFRAID OF CLAYMATION. We don’t even need to discuss that issue, okay?

I started out thinking about the Rudolph story really critically/academically because it’s such an archetypical story. A weirdo appears, a weirdo is shunned, a weirdo is accepted. Except it’s not a positive story about being a weirdo and being accepted, it’s a story about how we are only valuable if we are useful to the machine. It’s baaaaaasically Focault’s ideas of docile bodies. And that’s messed up! ALMOST EVERYONE SHUNS RUDOLPH. His own father is ashamed of him (which Santa TELLS him to be!) and the other young reindeer are almost afraid of him once his nose is revealed and there is no sign of forgiveness until Santa deems him useful.

But then I just started getting really frustrated because GOD DAMN THIS MOVIE IS TOO LONG. Seriously. I don’t understand how kids sit through this! If someone had tried to make me watch this when I was little, I would have gotten bored before the ginger miner shows up and started throwing a tantrum. SO LONG. And the abominable snowman is the slowest moving monster in all history. Like, WAIT, we will stop and chat for a few minutes while he advances on us slower than honey pouring from a jar. And then there is STILL MORE MOVIE.

Donner’s an asshole and so are all the other reindeer. Mrs. Donner and Clarice are awesome. And Hermey is the best, sassiest, most flippy-hair-having dentist elf I have ever seen. And Santa is a dick. I think Santa just might be universally a dick.

Now that I’ve crossed the landmark/hurdle of watching the first Rankin/Bass, I might spend some time watching the other ones. Maybe. Claymation still really freaks me out.