Rudolph, the Bullied Reindeer


Really, youngsters?

Millenials and such…do you really think that the theme and subtext of Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer was lost on everybody born before you? I love you all, but please don’t insult our intelligence.

You have the advantage of social media. Your opinions matter now more than ours did then because you all get to validate each other through social media, even when people don’t agree with you. You’ll never know the struggle of having to be “seen and not heard”.

I’m a child of the seventies. Our social media was TV and word of mouth—when we were allowed to talk. Many of us were “woke” before our time but didn’t get credit for it, because adults didn’t give a whoopty-do what we thought. In my day, children who had strong opinions about serious issues were shut down. Hard. Remember Michael Evans from “Good Times”? Very that.

My first memory of watching Rudolph was when I was five or six years old, in 1974-75, at least ten years after it was made. I totally related to Rudolph, because I too was being horribly bullied every day at school, by kids AND teachers. That tends to happen when you’re the tallest, fattest, and smartest girl in the first grade. Rudolph made me realize that I wasn’t the only one who was “different”. The more “different” you are, the more people hate you for it. Even those who you think are supposed to be nice to you.

Rudolph had Coach Comet. I had Mrs. Preston, my first grade teacher. Mean as a rattlesnake and quick to swing a ruler (corporal punishment in school was legal back then). I’m pretty sure that she’s roasting on a spit in Hell right now.

Oh yes, I saw the bullying theme back then. The injustice of being rejected because of something about yourself that you cannot change: it was all there to be seen. Quite frankly, TV movies were the only vehicles that ever addressed the issue of bullying. Bullying in real life was considered a NON-issue. NO ONE attempted to do anything about children being victimized without mercy until the 90’s, when bullied children came back to school with shotguns. I remember year after year, principal after principal telling my mother “There’s nothing that we can really do. Kids are kids.” At age 13, my logical response was to start carrying a kitchen knife in my bookbag. Funny how things like that create a sense of urgency within the school system….but that’s another story.

And ba-a-a-ack to the Loving Place….

Youngsters, give Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer a break. It’s a 54 year-old movie with children as the target audience. Tune in for the whole thing. Don’t apply your 21st century political correctness to 20th century society. Use the story to open a dialogue (oh, that’s right…you’ve already done that). That’s what old folks like me wish had been done when WE were younger.

Children’s movies with deep themes didn’t start in the 21st century, young people. Appreciate the story with every nuance that you’re discovering about it. Problematic? Please. To quote Whoopi Goldberg, what’s the problem? That you didn’t see all this subtext while you were watching it year after year? Sorry…this is all the help that I have for you.

Be satisfied, like Whoopi so joyfully preached, that the story has a happy ending. Rudolph was eventually needed and appreciated for his “non-conformity”. I got that as a child. I even remember thinking that Rudolph forgave everybody too quickly. I would have made Santa beg a little bit more before jumping up to help. And everybody else would’ve had to throw me a party when I got back. I also learned that the thing you get rejected for can have you leading the pack one day. Love on your gifts and talents, and they will make room for you.

That’s why I’m punching away at this blog, stirring up every gift inside me that has made people hate my guts all my life. One day, someone will need me to lead the pack with the things that I do best.

Learned that from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer forty-three years ago. And I continue to watch it every year to remind myself. See you next year, Rudolph!

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