1964 stop motion classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer received critical commentary on Twitter over its "messed up" lessons aimed at children following the animated special's annual airing on CBS Tuesday.
The iconic Rankin/Bass Productions special follows famed glowy-nosed reindeer Rudolph (Billie Mae Richards), an outsider discouraged from participating in reindeer games, who ventures to an island of misfit toys with fellow oddballs Yukon Cornelius (Larry D. Mann) and wannabe dentist elf Hermey (Paul Soles).
When Santa Claus (Stan Francis) is forced to cancel Christmas gift-giving because of a harsh blizzard and low visibility, Rudolph's unique distinguishing feature saves the day when he guides Santa's sleigh and helps deliver the misfit toys to children around the globe.
While trending on Twitter, the latest Rudolph airing brought commentary criticizing the special for its plot point bullying and mixed messages — namely Rudolph being accepted only when his "abnormality" proves useful.
"I've never liked it. The coach is a bully, Santa is a bully, and all the other 'kids,'" commented one Twitter user. "Then the only reason they accepted [Rudolph] is because he could do something for them. Crazy message."
Wrote another, "The moral of the story I've learned since watching it as a kid: People are d— until they need something from you."
Not all criticism was scathing, as some users tweeted with tongue firmly in cheek:
"I think all kids are looking for guidance. I think all kids feel slightly inferior... kids have problems, whatever they may be. And to see other characters that have problems, they can associate with them," Rankin Jr. said in a 2010 interview with Emmy TV Legends.
"And when the characters are relieved of their problems by their own actions — like Rudolph became the lead because he was very needed and he fulfilled a big role — Hermey became a dentist because he conquered Bumble.
"And kids love to see someone of their own stride, their own age or their own inferiority, achieve things. That makes them feel good. I think that's probably the reason these films last so long, because in all our films, that happens. The bad guy becomes the good guy at the end, he's reformed, and the underdog fulfills his quest."
Used to Laugh and Call Him Names
I've never liked it. The coach is a bully, Santa is a bully, and all the other "kids". Then they ONLY reason they accepted him is because he could do something for them. Crazy message.— ??Tami?? (@BasketOfAwesome) November 28, 2018
Go to 42:28. “Santa realizes, maybe, even he was wrong”. Before the storm and before Rudolph offered his nose. Yes, there’s some bullying, the lesson wasn’t about being nice only after Rudolph offers his service, it’s about accepting differences. https://t.co/KhkLN57n8F— Erika Bade (@marleygirl84) November 29, 2018
Rudolph with your nose so bright, Won't you guide my sleigh tonight? Then all the reindeer loved him
Watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The moral of the story I’ve learned since watching it as a kid: People are dicks until they need something from you. #RudolphTheRedNosedReindeer— Kim Huck (@acejordan23) November 28, 2018
And they shouted out with glee
That's not it at all. They made fun of for being different. UNTIL they figured out they needed him. If they accepted him from the get go. Then yes your stance holds true. But they didn't. Therefore, they were "using" him.— Bryson Davis (@Bernice9701) November 29, 2018
Santa's Got a Brand New Airbag
If I was #RudolphTheRedNosedReindeer I would have told Santa to kiss my red glowing ass. Now you need me? Good luck flying in the dark.— Carl Boogie (@CWayne2000) November 28, 2018
Not-so-jolly Saint Nick
Has anyone else noticed that within the first five minutes of #RudolphTheRedNosedReindeer two characters get bullied?— Dr. Daryl L Williams (@revdaryl) November 28, 2018
Jingle Bells, Santa Smells
The North Pole needs a HR department. All these bosses are horrible. #RudolphTheRedNosedReindeer— ChicagoMatt (@ChicagoMatt) November 28, 2018
Oh no. It’s #RudolphTheRedNosedReindeer I don’t have strength to watch this again. Those poor elves. That bully with the whip. Abusive deer. Dentist shaming. Unloved toys. It’s too much.— MJ Caan (@MJCaan) November 28, 2018
You Could Even Say It Blows
Donner, the choirr director, Santa -- all the authority figures at the North Pole are all JERKS.
Yeah I said it.#RudolphTheRedNosedReindeer— Rochelle Fritsch (@GeesMom) November 28, 2018
It’s like being Gay in a Black church. They hate on you until the city-wide choir competition comes around and they need a director. #RudolphTheRedNosedReindeer— jawillie (@jawillie) November 28, 2018
Have a Holly Jolly Christmas
Hey, remember in Rankin-Bass’ Rudolph when Burl Ives Snowman specifically stated that the community regretted bullying Rudolph BEFORE they realized his nose could get Santa and the reindeer through the storm?— Kyle Otumn ???? (@KyleOVox) November 29, 2018
People complaining about Rudolph encouraging bullying, sexism, segregation? Oof we're in some dire times— Jacov (@Frostysock) November 29, 2018
The point of the movie is literally that Rudolph is empowered by his differences and overcomes bullying. It is amazing to me that someone who has a job at the Huffington Post really misunderstood the message of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer this severely ??♂️ https://t.co/2tr3hcMy5x— Tim Trudel (@tim_trudel26) November 29, 2018
why are people such children these days??? RUDOLPH DOESNT PROMOTE BULLYING AND CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING ISNT RACIST CALM DOWN— raygan alexandra ? (@RayganAOfficial) November 29, 2018