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Last week, I referred to the original Rankin-Bass Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as “an unbridled triumph”. I stand by that assessment, but my friend Shaun reminded me of one unpleasant factor in that otherwise spotless holiday classic: in it, Santa’s a huge jerk.
Exhibit A: Santa visits Donner and wife once Rudolph is born. He sees Rudolph’s shiny nose. A nervous Donner assures Santa that this is just a temporary thing. Santa’s response: “I certainly hope so!” Rudolph’s about three minutes old at this point, you insensitive clod!
Exhibit B: Rudolph’s shiny nose is revealed at Reindeer Practice. The other reindeer freak out and make fun of him. Pretty uncool, but hey, they’re just dumb reindeer. But Santa tells Donner he should “be ashamed of himself”. Ashamed of himself! “How dare you sire such a monster!”
Exhibit C: Santa’s intolerant hiring practices. The head elf in his workshop has a severe anti-dental bias, as evidenced by his irrational prejudice against Hermey, the tooth-loving elf.
Exhibit D: When the elves sing their song for Santa, The Big Man waves his hand, Mike Francesa style, and simply says, “It needs work, I have to go.” The he storms out, leaving Mrs. Clause to apologize and do damage control.
Exhibit E: When intolerance drives both Rudolph and Hermey to run away from the North Pole, who goes after them? Not Santa. Clarice and Rudolph’s mom attempt to find them, and almost get eaten by a Bumble in the process.
Exhibit F: After all of this, Santa impresses Rudolph into service as part of his reindeer gang, because suddenly the shiny-nosed freak proves useful. Most folks would’ve told Santa to go fuck himself, but Rudolph puts aside his ego so toys can be delivered.
In summation, Santa Claus in Rudolph: huge dick. Your honor, the defense rests.