Deconstructing Rudolph

  • Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas songs have always bothered me.

I’m the fatalistic sort who reminds everyone ogling at the silver lining that there’s still a gray cloud over our heads.

Let’s take a look between the lines of the time-honored Christmas classic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The song’s veiled innuendos paint a very different picture of Santa Claus and life at the North Pole than what we’re used to.

The 1949 song recorded by Gene Autry began as a poem written by advertising exec Robert May in 1939 as a Christmas promotion, and was handed out to Montgomery Ward shoppers.

The song’s first line: “know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen, but do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?”

Already you get the feeling that the other eight reindeer were like the guys in the Commodores behind Lionel Richie, or the other four members of the Jackson 5 besides Michael.

It’s all about Rudolph.

I’m already feeling the resentment start to build here.

“Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose. And if you ever saw him, you would even say it glows.”

This Rudolph character is different. He has a red, shiny nose. I’m also seeing some backhanded gossiping among the elves.

You have to watch those elves, a real secretive bunch they are. Short little guys with pointy ears and funny shoes, always sneaking around, plus they’ve cornered the whole cookie market and they don’t let anybody inside that hollow tree.

“All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names. They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.”

Ritualistic hazing this looks like.

And apparently Santa condones it. The other reindeer didn’t like Rudolph much at all. Kind of like the way the Supremes regarded Diana Ross, always hogging all the attention.

His suspension from the Reindeer Games … Rudolph on steroids, perhaps?

“Then one foggy Christmas Eve Santa came to say: ‘Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?’”

Now you come a knockin’ Santa. The chips are down. It’s foggy. Nobody can see and now suddenly you have a need for poor old Rudolph. Well I got two words for you Santa and they’re NOT Merry Christmas. You wouldn’t give him the time of day before. What’s to make you think Rudolph won’t go postal on you and ram that sleigh and the other eight backstabbing reindeer into the side of a mountain?

You have to watch this Santa character.

An elf taskmaster he is. Antiquated working conditions, grueling hours – a real sweatshop … nothing to build toys with but tiny wooden hammers, and probably light on the healthcare coverage, too.

And the pay, milk and cookies? Sugar plums and candy canes?

I wonder what kind of dental plan he offers. Plus he gets the elves all jacked-up on sugar and makes them work incredibly long hours.

Obviously this is a non-union shop.

“Then all the reindeer loved him as they shouted out with glee, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, you’ll go down in history!”

So now everybody loves Rudolph.

That’s because he saved the day and then had himself a top 10 hit. They made a movie and TV show about him.

Yeah, Prancer had himself a small film run a few years back but that never caught on.

It’s always been about Rudolph and now all the elves and reindeer want to ride Rudolph’s coattails.

So, what happened to Rudolph?

The red nose concealed a serious drinking problem. He went into rehab. Got sober. Then went on Oprah and cried while promoting his new bestseller “Odd Man Out – Rudolph, the Ninth Reindeer.” Oliver Stone wants to adapt the book into a movie.

Maybe the whole song translation thing wasn’t such a good idea.

Wait until you see what I did with “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

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