Disturbing Things You Never Noticed About ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’

There are plenty of classic kids’ movies that would never get made today. Forget the whole controversy surrounding Disney princesses who focus on nothing but finding true love (and falling in love after just a few hours) … some films are shockingly out of date with how they portray certain events.

People may look past these themes because the movies are nostalgic and have been beloved for centuries. But watching the films now reveals a whole lot of questions.

Rudolph and Hermey

Rudolph and Hermey | Rankin Bass/Wikimedia Commons

The classic 1964 stop-motion Christmas film Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is one of the most popular films to view during the holidays. It’s become a tradition to watch every year since its debut. But when it premiered on CBS for the 2018 holiday season, fans took to social media with some peculiar observations about the messages in the movie. Here’s what they said:

Why is Santa so mean?

When Rudolph’s secret red glowing nose gets revealed, Santa doesn’t offer acceptance or understanding. He doesn’t even politely smile and then gossip about Rudolph behind his back. No – Santa in the film is openly hostile and mocks Rudolph’s nose, which encourages others to do the same.

Imagine if any other popular film encouraged children to point out each other’s differences and ostracize each other based on those characteristics. It would never happen!

One of the misfits suffers on the inside

The Island of Misfit Toys houses abandoned, unloved toys who aren’t “perfect.” But people have been questioning for years what’s wrong with Dolly, who appears “normal-looking” to the naked eye. Why was she cast aside on the island?

Producer Arthur K. Rankin confirmed that Dolly is there with the other toys because she’s suffering from depression after her owner didn’t want her anymore. She has the type of emotional scar you can’t see from the outside.

Island of Misfit Toys

Island of Misfit Toys | Ellen O’Neill via Twitter

A bird gets murdered at the end

Perceptive Twitter users pointed out that at the end of the film, one of Santa’s elves tosses a bird out of the sleigh after the bird confesses that he can’t fly. Yikes.

Rudolph elf bird

A bird gets killed | Keith ONeil via Twitter

People only accept differences they can exploit

One of the more subtle, yet disturbing messages in the film centers around Rudolph’s red nose. Everyone knows that the little reindeer is mocked for his nose until one foggy Christmas night when Santa needs him to light the way. The event is painted as a heartwarming moment, but the implication is far more sinister.

The underlying message is that people only accept your differences when they can be exploited in some way and used to benefit them. It’s not a very uplifting concept.

Deviating from the status quo is discouraged

Hermey the Elf wants to be a dentist. However, he’s ridiculed for wanting to do things differently than everyone else. Even though he eventually gets his way, this rude treatment is difficult to watch.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer will probably always be an integral part of the holiday season. But next time you’re watching with young children, it might be beneficial to explain to them all the ways this beloved holiday classic gets it wrong. And of course reassure them that they’d still be loved, even if they had a red nose.