Thursday, December 8, 2011

Have A Very Misogynistic Christmas

A few days ago, when I noticed the 1964 stop-motion animation television special “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” was on, I was thrilled.  At four-years-old, Preschooler was finally old enough to really “get” the whole Santa experience, and I knew she’d love this movie.  So with an eager heart, I turned on the TV, and got ready to create some Normon-Rockwell-esque Christmas memories with my oldest child.  And as I predicted, Rudolph worked his charm. Preschooler sat there the whole hour, mouth hanging open, totally engaged in the story of the misfit reindeer.

For all the wrong reasons.

It turns out Rudolph isn’t as sunshiny as I remember.

Not five minutes into the movie, when Rudolph is born, we find out Rudolph’s father, Donner, is kind of a dick.  When Rudolph’s nose shines, his mother (Mrs. Donner Reindeer), says “Well, we’ll just have to overlook this,” Rudolph’s dad vocally opposes such a suggestion, and insists Rudolph wear a false nose.  So, when Rudolph complains the prosthetic is uncomfortable, his dad claims “You’ll wear it and you’ll like it!” Now THAT’S parenting!

As the movie rolls along, I can accept all the other reindeer are jerks towards Rudolph, if only because the carol commands the other reindeer not allow Rudolph to join in any reindeer games.  So it comes as no surprise when Rudolph runs away from home.

Donner and Mrs. Donner are understandably distraught when they find out Rudolph’s gone.  Mrs. Donner wants to strike out in search of her lost boy, but Donner stops her stating, “No! This is MAN’S work!” and he sets off alone.  

Despite this, and In a rare moment of female empowerment, Mrs. Donner and Rudolph’s little girlfriend Clarice leave the cave to search for Rudolph.  The next we hear from them?  They’re being attacked by the Abominable Snowman. OF COURSE THEY ARE.  

So, Rudolph, Donner, and Rudolph’s new misfit friends rescue them thanks to the wanna-be dentist elf, who pulls out all the Abominable Snowman’s teeth with a large pair of pliers. This led to some interesting discussions about how the dentist is your friend, and not some sort of nightmarish tooth-pulling fiend.

Finally, with the Abominable Snowman incapacitated, the gang can head home, but not without one more disparaging quip from Donner. “Come on,” he says. “Let’s get the WOMEN home.”

Fantastic.

The movie’s most redeeming feature, in my opinion?  The island of misfit toys is ruled by a giant flying gryphon.  SCORE.  Totally forgot about that one. And, most likely, any hints of misogyny totally flew over Preschooler’s head, just as, for 30 odd years or so, they flew over my head as well.

Merry Christmas.  Merry Christmas, indeed.

14 comments:

Lindsay Schultz said...

I watched this for the first time last Christmas. I was never interested, but husband always loved it. Rudolph has a lot to discuss with his therapist.

Angela@BeggingTheAnswer said...

@Lindsay - How did you make it through your entire childhood without watching Rudolph at Christmas?!

chemgirljaime said...

I love that movie... I love how Santa brings the misfit toys back to Christmasland and the dentist is allowed to practice instead of being a toymaker..

did you also notice the part where Santa is kind of a dick when he says "it's ok" (or something) after the elf choir sings?


I'm with you though.. I never noticed most of these things til I watched as an adult.

Angela@BeggingTheAnswer said...

@chemgirljamie - I still love the movie too, even though Santa is kind of a dick.

my honest answer said...

It's so funny watching something as a grown-up that you saw as a child - so many double and hidden meanings!

I remember watching The Simpsons at college and thinking, wow, this really isn't a kids program!

Fox in the City said...

There is some sick shit that is passed off as kids programming from back in the day! ;)

From an adult's perspective I try and watch stuff like knowing that it is very telling for the time period but does not represent today. That being said, my Little Miss is just too much of a wimp to watch anything with any sort of protagonist in it and so we really don't watch movies. Sigh.
Jenn

Lizbeth said...

We tried watching this with my son and he FREAKED OUT. We've never watched it since and have actually gone out of our way to keep him from seeing it.

Angela@BeggingTheAnswer said...

@my honest answer - as a die-hard Simpsons fan I concur it is NOT a kids' show!

@Fox in the City - at 4, my Preschooler is JUST starting to be able to sit through a whole movie, so I totally understand

@Lizbeth - that abominable snowman is SCARY!

Laura said...

Reindeers are assholes. Fact.

Know what freaks me out? Winnie the Pooh's old man voice. Nightmare city.

Angela@BeggingTheAnswer said...

@Laura - Hmmm... never thought about Winnie the Pooh's voice. And apparently you can't trust a reindeer.

Joshua said...

Merry F^(%!#& Christmas, eh? Strange that this was the first year I've noticed that same thing when watching it with The Girl (who is also 4).

Angela@BeggingTheAnswer said...

@Joshua - weird!

Marianna Annadanna said...

I can't say I'm surprised. Donner is an asshole. Always has been.

Angela@BeggingTheAnswer said...

@Marianna - so true.