Commentary Saturday #4

The holiday season is racing by us, so I thought it’d be a good time to sit down with you and reflect on some of our time-honored traditions. We’ve all seen the movie, it’s the one Christmas special we remember watching as a kid that doesn’t have Will Ferrell in it. And now, as you’ve no doubt watched it once more, prepare for the Marxist-Cynic’s take on a movie that, oddly enough, doesn’t have any outright overtures to materialism or consumption. So, really, prepare for nitpicking.

“Why I’ve got a bone to pick with Rudolph”

I don’t care which version of this story you base it off of, whether it’s the 1964 sacred cow Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or the 1998 remake Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie that survives despite Rankin/Bass’s attempts to sue it out of existence, but there’s always one aspect in either movie which drives me bonkers: the fact that Rudolph’s love interest only initially likes him due to the fact that she feels sorry for him. I mean, what basis is that for a relationship?! Sure, you might be nicer to someone you pity, you might even make them feel a bit better, but since when would you be attracted to someone whose pathetic features demand your sympathy? It doesn’t work, it just doesn’t work.

Yes, in either version, he proves himself a hero trying to rescue her, but that’s only after she’s made the first move. Why can’t she like him for his humor, or his charm, or even his good nature, not a red nose that everyone else despises yet she declares, “It’s unique, just like you.” (1998 version. Yes I do my research). Why must she like him for his nose as opposed to, gee, I don’t know, his character, the great person inside that no one can see due to that nose but she’s decent enough to realize is there? This is why I’m rewriting this tale, and this time things aren’t going to follow the expected story arc that everyone’s come to know.

My second reason, is that the song, which was written before either of these movies, which is actually based off a book (must read), doesn’t set in stone the story arc that has been adapted from it. When Santa asks “Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”, Rudolph’s response isn’t stated, the only clues to it are the final lines of the ballad, “Then how the reindeer loved him,/As they shouted out with glee,/‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,/You’ll go down in history.’”

Now yes, I understand his implied response is somewhere along the lines of, “Yes, sure, I’d love to, I guess, okay…etc.” but this is not the only possible answer Rudolph gave. The lines imply that whatever he said, it was pleasing to his fellow peers, and that it was a ground breaking event which he set in place.

My thinking is, what if he said “No.” What if he was the first to stand up to their oppressive autocrat with his slave army of elves toiling in his factories and excavating massive amounts of coal from the mine shafts of his gulags? The opportunity to destroy this classic is too great to resist.

Those who read this post closely (and for that I truly thank you) may notice I make several allusions to rewriting the tale of Rudolph. I’ve taken a swing at it over the past year since Christmas of 2013 on a few occasions, but the closest I ever came to getting the wheels rolling was something I started in November: The Rise of the Proletariat

I know what you’re saying, “Stephen, that doesn’t sound like it has the remotest thing to do with Rudolph or Santa or Christmas.” Fair point, my good reader. I’ll admit, I let my Marxian views muddle things up a bit, but the “Arctic Empire” and the “Nutcracker Guard” are all references in there to the larger picture I was envisioning. Rudolph, scorned by the aristocratic purebreds which he was born amongst, must choose between Emperor Claus and the Proletariat rebels seeking to cast off the chains of slavery required to manufacture toys for millions of future consumers.

It’s stuff like this that really gets me excited, adding unnecessary depth and themes to a simple children’s tale about acceptance, social stigma, and embracing those features which are hyper-visible to the greater collective. Will I ever finish it? Most likely not. Am I insane? Probably. Leave a comment with your own views, I’d love to know the perspectives of the majority on this possibly divisive idea. Until next time, signing off.

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