Christmas movies are supposed to be heartwarming parables that entertain us while simultaneously teaching us the invaluable tenet of selflessness. Christmas is not about presents, the Grinch teaches us, it's about being together. Christmas is not a time for selfishness, A Christmas Carol teaches us, it is a time to set right past wrongs. Christmas is not meaningless, A Charlie Brown Christmas teaches us, it is a day to reflect on the life of Jesus and be thankful we were not born hydrocephalic. But one Christmas movie doesn't want to teach you kindness or charity, or any of that crap; it only wants to teach you spite and how to commit hate crimes. It's called Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and here's what it wants you to learn:
All of Santa's little elves spend the whole year working, building toys for good little boys and girls. But spot-welding dirt-bikes for needy redneck children does not leave a lot of free time for the elves, so you can imagine they cherish what little they do get. And how do they spend this priceless free time? Why, penning a lovely ode to their kindly master, Santa Claus, of course! They toil away composing and practicing, and when they're all finished, they ask Santa if he'd like to come listen to a song they wrote for him. To which he replies that he's "busy, so they better make it quick."
Santa's probably just stressed. We all get stressed around the holidays. He gets a pass on that out of character rudeness. But something's still amiss here: All during the song, the conductor elf keeps turning around and shooting apprehensive looks at Santa, like he's expecting to feel the sting of a whip at any moment. It's easy to see why: All throughout the performance, Santa grows increasingly moody and unhappy, slumping in his chair and glowering at the singers.
"Yeah, great. Call me when you've learned Freebird."
After they've finished their heartfelt ode, the elves turn to Santa and ask hopefully: "How did you like it?" To which he brusquely responds, "Well, it needs work. I have to go,' then storms out and slams the door. That's like giving your dad a drawing to put up on the fridge, only to have him criticize your sense of perspective and ability to use color to evoke emotion.
But it turns out that was Santa's version of "polite." He doesn't actually think the song needs work, nor does he think it's the thought that counts. No, he actively and passionately hates the damn thing. When he hears the elves singing it again later - like some sort of pixie spiritual to dull the pain as they slave away on his production line - Santa has the following exchange with his wife:
And that's like giving your dad a drawing to put on the fridge, only to have him crumple it up, throw it in the trash can, then urinate in the trash while forbidding you to ever draw under his god damn roof again.
In the movie, we learn that Rudolph's father is tragically ashamed of his own son. This is mainly because Santa has emotional problems and had previously informed him that a birth defect like Rudolph's nose would preclude the boy from ever being on his sleigh team - the sleigh team apparently being the Reindeer equivalent of JV football. Out of desperation, Rudolph's dad tries to cover up the defect.
The father grows more and more frustrated as the attempts to hide his son's nose fail, until finally Rudolph tells him that he doesn't want to cover his nose at all -- the defect doesn't bother him, you see, he's comfortable with who he is. And besides, the nose cover is painful and uncomfortable. Instead of learning a heartwarming lesson about respecting his boy's individuality, Rudolph's father grabs him and tells him coldly that "there are more important things than comfort - Self Respect." Then shoves the shame-cover back on his child's face.
The implication being that, if anything, it is Rudolph who's letting the family down by failing to feel the appropriate amount of shame at his own handicap. That's right: The reindeers in Santa's workshop follow the same brutal, emotionless code of conduct as the Spartans from 300. Rudolph should probably count himself lucky they didn't just leave him out for the wolves.