Imagine the outrage that would have ensued had the 1939 holiday classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer been written and released in the Age of Social?
My presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. is limited to posting on as-needed basis, like using Twitter when customer service isn’t responding to email. Hashtag Fail/Name of Company. It works every time.
Friends and associates who spend time online tell me they’ve been trolled or excoriated on various platforms for a post that offended someone they barely knew, or didn’t know as well as they thought they did. And well we know, to paraphrase Lincoln, you can please some of the people all the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time, especially given the number of social platforms currently available.
The first problem with the song would have been, what’s with the red nose? Does Rudolph have a drinking problem? If so, why is Santa asking him to drive the sleigh? On a foggy night, no less. Come to think of it, Santa’s cheeks are pretty rosy. Are Rudolph and Santa secret drinking buddies?
Let’s give Rudy, and Santa, the benefit of the doubt. Santa’s cheeks could be red because it’s bloody cold there at the North Pole. He may suffer from Rosacea, for all we know.
As for the other reindeer – Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen; Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen – they are bullies. Laughing at Rudolph and calling him names? Which you know the aforementioned reindeer would post on their socials to be shared ad nauseam, across platforms. No doubt about it, that’s cyber bullying, pure and simple. Bullying, in any form, simply does not belong in a holiday song.
Next: the other reindeer wouldn’t play let poor Rudolph join their reindeer games. Question: wasn’t Santa the adult supposedly supervising all of this?
And what precisely are reindeer games? It sounds like a veiled reference to a rather violent movie from 2000. Who are these creatures, and why is Santa associating with them?
There are bigger issues left unaddressed about Rudolph’s red nose. It’s in the title because it made him a hero but prior to that one foggy Christmas Eve when they needed a headlight the other reindeer tormented Rudolph for what they regarded as a deformity. Why were the other reindeer allowed to make fun of someone different from them who was perhaps physically challenged? Was “red nose” some sort of cruel euphemism?
Then there’s the matter of Rudolph’s name. It seems a very different name than what is common at the North Pole, if the names of the other reindeer are any indication. Is Rudolph, perhaps, of German descent? Were the reindeer xenophobic? Was xenophobia widespread at the North Pole? Was the reindeer bullying of Rudolph something of a hate crime, all things considered?
Of course, when Santa decided that it was Rudolph who would guide his sleigh on the fateful, foggy night, suddenly the other reindeer were his BFFs. Were they using him to get into Santa’s good graces? And did poor Rudolph know the difference between real friends and that lot? They likely turned out to be, at best, fair weather friends, and the irony is not lost on us here.
This is where the song ends, so we never learn if the other reindeer truly understood Rudolph’s value going forward, or if they reverted to their previous bad behavior. Perhaps they were opportunistically latching on to his fame. They did get themselves mentioned in the song, after all.
Which brings us to the real question: Who raised these animals?