[Ed. – Confession: I didn’t think this was necessary until I read Lileks’s piece.]
It’s charming and tuneful and justly revered. So let’s spoil it by overthinking the details and applying the corrosive idiocy of modern standards, shall we? Herewith a few points to consider.
If it’s been a long time since you saw it, you’re struck immediately by one jarring fact:
Santa is a jerk. When Rudolph is born in the spring, Santa wanders over to the cave where his parents live — never mind the fact that Santa’s employees live in unheated holes — and he uses the opportunity to sing a song about himself being the King of Jing-A-Ling. You get the idea that it’s all about Santa up in Christmastown, 24/7/52/365 — a fact underscored by the next scene, when the off-season elves have convened to pledge fealty in song form. “We Are Santa’s Elves” rivals North Korean fealty-pageants in its naked self-abasement. We have no individual identity, only collective identification as property of the employer. …
Kids today are appalled by the brusque coach who regards Rudolph as a freak and clearly sides with the normal reindeer youth. Nowadays the character would recognize Rudolph’s specialness right away, and the entire show would have been about his fight to get Rudolph on the team, culminating in an impassioned speech before a congressional committee and the passage of Rudolph’s Law.
By the way, when I was a kid we understood the coach character’s nasty reaction — not because we sympathized with him, but because phys-ed teachers were jerks.