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Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer IS a Bullying Story, with lessons learned


With Christmas right around the corner, the classic television specials spanning generations have once again made their yearly airings. And once again, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer has come under fire for its alleged excessive and blatant bullying

And truth be told, those accusations are mostly accurate. 

Many seem to find fault with the longest continuously running Christmas special that’s been a holiday staple for over half a century. However, it’s more important to take notice of the lessons ‘Rudolph’ teaches, as opposed to maligning it for the messages it seemingly conveys. 

An Outcast

Yes, Rudolph is different. His nose shines brighter than any other reindeer in the North Pole. Santa Claus warned Donner that his son would not be a part of the sleigh team. As a result, Donner and Rudolph’s mother tried to cover his nose. Other reindeer weren’t allowed to play with him. Yes, Rudolph was basically ostracized. However, like most bullied children, he was not alone.

Fellow “Misfits” and the Challenges That Await

There’s also Hermey, who clearly doesn’t fit in with the other elves and forms a bond with Rudolph. By this time, Rudolph was so distraught he ran away because he thought things would never change. Along the way, they meet Yukon Cornelius, who is basically a loner trying to find his place in life. If that’s not enough, the group encounters other bullies and/or obstacles along the way, including the Abominable Snow Monster of the North (aka: Bumble). When they land on the Island of Misfit Toys, the group finds even more outcasts looking for a home. After going out on his own, Rudolph once again encounters Bumble, who has his family and Clarice cornered in a cave.

We all know how this ends. The bully is confronted, and Donner realizes the error of his ways and apologizes for giving his son a hard time. Rudolph finds his purpose, guides Santa’s sleigh and saves Christmas. Everyone becomes friends, and the toys finally find forever homes. 

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Lessons Learned

Basically, people can decide to put any spin they want on Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. Was Santa, Donner and the fellow reindeer wrong for making Rudolph feel the way he did? Absolutely. They tried to make Rudolph something he wasn’t. Donner made him put on a fake nose. Despite all of the challenges that he encountered, Rudolph always stayed true to himself, persevered,  and never gave up. He eventually found friends who liked him for who he was (Clarice, Hermey, Yukon). He even played the role of an upstander while defending his family and Clarice from Bumble, who like most bullies, was misunderstood. Like most children being bullied or forced to be just like others, there was light at the end of the tunnel for Rudolph. He never gave up hope. As a result, he was rewarded in the end.  

There is a fine line between condemning an almost 60-year old program, and recognizing the valuable lessons it can provide to young children struggling for acceptance. When all is said and done, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer should be appreciated and celebrated as a special tale that rewards overcoming obstacles and celebrates unique differences. After all, nobody would play with Ranbow Rabbit, either, because he looked different than the other rabbits!

Merry Christmas from all of us at Rainbow Rabbit!

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