Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Christmas Cartoon 2: Santa is a Jerk (a history of the Rudolph special)

"In the 1964 Rankin Bass Christmas special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus was a huge jerk. He actively encouraged discrimination and was self-centered."

History lesson from:

"Rudolph the Red–Nosed Reindeer is a long-running Christmas television special produced in stop motion animation by Rankin/Bass. It first aired December 6, 1964 on the NBC television network in the USA and was sponsored by General Electric. It is based on the song by Johnny Marks, and in turn taken from the 1939 poem of the same title written by Marks' brother-in-law, Robert L. May. Since 1972, the special has aired over CBS, who unveiled a high-definition, digitally remastered version in 2005. As with A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph no longer airs just once annually, but several times during the Christmas season. It has been telecast every year since 1964, making it the one Christmas TV special which has been shown the longest."

And here is a version hosted by a guy.

WARNING: Slightly harsh language.

"The truth about Santa Claus is uncovered."

More history from Wikipedia:

"The 1964 Rankin/Bass classic was not the first animated version of the Rudolph story. Max Fleischer created an 8-minute animated short in 1948 for Jam Handy that has since fallen into public domain, currently being available on budget-priced DVDs and videocassettes.

"The Rankin/Bass special (which currently airs on CBS) inspired numerous television sequels made by the same studio. The best-known Rudolph sequel is Rudolph's Shiny New Year from 1976 which first aired on ABC and is still aired annually on ABC Family.

"The feature-length Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July paired Rudolph with another famous creation inspired by a song - Frosty the Snowman, and was released in the summer of 1979, which Arthur Rankin, Jr. would later acknowledge was a bad idea.

"A direct-to-video sequel, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys, was a CGI-animated release by Goodtimes Entertainment in 2001. An earlier animated feature-length film by Goodtimes, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie was released direct-to-video in 1998, using traditional cel animation and does not feature any of Romeo Muller's characters."


Disney does Rudolph:

"In the 1993 stop-motion animated film, The Nightmare Before Christmas, a very brief, yet noticeable homage is paid to the original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer story. Part way through the film, the movie's main female character, Sally, pours fog juice into the town's well on Christmas Eve to cover the entire area in a thick fog, in an attempt to stop the main male character, Jack Skellington, from "unintentionaly" stealing Santa's role as Christmas's icon, and fly away in his sleigh. When the fog was too thick to see through, and all hope to deliver Jack's version of Christmas seemed ruined, Jack Skellington realises that his pet ghost dog, Zero, has a magnificently glowing pumpkin nose, which is bright enough to break through the fog. Jack lets Zero go to the head of his skeleton reindeer team, and light the way for him, thus saving Jack's Christmas, and foiling Sally's efforts to prevent Jack's delivery of toys.

"In the 2001 animated film Monsters, Inc., there is an Abominable Snowman character (voiced by John Ratzenberger) that bears a significant (and intentional) resemblance to the Bumble.

"In the Lizzie McGuire episode Xtreme Xmas, one of the ghosts who visits Lizzie in her dream represents Hermey the Misfit Elf, played by Adam Lamberg.

"In the Kim Possible episode A Very Possible Christmas, Snowman Hank, the host of Ron's favorite Christmas special looks incredibly similar to Sam the Snowman."


Other interesting animated references:

"South Park may have meant to parody the misfit toy sanctuary in episode 104, Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride with its portrayal of a sanctuary for gay animals. In any event, it's positive they did with the Island of Misfit Mascots Commune in Sexual Harassment Panda, and in addition, the king lion in Here Comes the Neighborhood, though named after The Chronicles of Narnia's Aslan, sounds very similar to King Moonracer. In Merry Christmas Charlie Manson! Cartman's family is seen watching Terrance and Phillip where the duo run up and fart on Rudolph which in turn makes his Nose light up.

"The North Pole in the 2003 movie Elf strongly resembles the one in Rudolph, including a snowman character named Leon that parallels Sam the Snowman. Additionally, when Will Ferrell's character Buddy sets out to find his father, he leaves by stepping onto a hunk of ice bordering the sea, which detaches and drifts away; this same means of transportation is used by Rudolph and others at various points in the special. Buddy and the rest of the elves are attired in outfits that are similar to that of the special's Head Elf."

We'll have a Christmas cartoon every day from now until Christmas.


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