Don’t Cancel Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer!

Eufemia Didonato

Hermey the elf and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Subscribe now for as little as $2 a month! Subscribe now for as little as $2 a month! Subscribe now for as little as $2 a month! Subscribe now for as little as $2 a month! Support Progressive Journalism The Nation is […]


Hermey the elf and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Holiday specials, a staple of North American childhoods since the early 1960s, are increasingly falling victim to our fragmented media culture. Just as the liturgical calendar gave structure to the lives of the medieval peasants, an equally ritualized TV schedule shaped a communal culture in the era of the cathode tube: The Ten Commandments for Easter, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown for Halloween, and then, after Thanksgiving, a slew of familiar shows and movies revisited every year: A Charlie Brown Christmas, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, It’s a Wonderful Life, and the many iterations of A Christmas Carol.

But television is giving way to Youtube and streaming, which makes for more privatized and asynchronous viewing: With everyone watching on their own electronic device and in their own time, the idea of a shared experience represented by TV specials seems anachronistic. There is evidence, though, that communal viewing remains something people cherish and want to hold on to. As PBS reports, “Apple TV+ purchased the Peanuts Thanksgiving and became the new home to the beloved Peanuts holiday specials. That sparked an outcry from viewers who were accustomed to annually tuning in on network TV. Apple offered each special to stream for free for a handful of days, but that didn’t stop online petitions from gathering hundreds of thousands of signatures.” Bowing to public pressure, Apple agreed to allow PBS to air the specials ad-free.

This rollback of streaming culture is likely to be temporary. Holiday specials will persist, but without the chronological framework of the TV schedule. Instead, the viewing of these specials will become curated by parents, who will work from memories of what they enjoyed as young. But memories are sometimes faulty and not everything that enjoys the hazy glow of nostalgia deserves preserving.

Writing in the December issue of The Atlantic, the astute cultural critic Caitlin Flanagan makes the case against one of the most beloved of the old specials in an article bluntly titled, “Don’t Subject Your Kids to Rudolph.” According to Flanagan, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (a 1964 stop-motion animation special made by Rankin/Bass Productions) is too “bleak” and “dark” for children.

This critique has some justice to it. Like other Rankin/Bass shows, Rudolph does veer toward the grotesque, with mean-spirited characters who bully and badger each other. The titular hero is relentlessly belittled for being different, his red nose eliciting taunts and exclusion. Santa’s workshop is run with a ruthlessness of a Victorian factory, with miserable elves dreaming of escape. Toys that don’t fit the norm are exiled to the Island of Misfit Toys.

But many storytellers have found it useful to highlight grotesque and selfish behavior as a way of drawing a contrast to Christmas cheer. It’s hardly an accident that Ebenezer Scrooge and the Grinch are at the heart of the Christmas canon.

Source Article

Next Post

Offers on Nintendo Switch, Samsung and Shark

Currys’ Black Friday sale is not one to miss, so start making your shopping list now (The Independent) The Black Friday sale is here, meaning that high street stores are slashing the prices of everything from tech and home appliances to TVs and laptops, and Currys PC World is no […]