Dear CBS,

I know you have a lot on your mind right now. Tom Brokaw signed off from NBC last night with honor and fanfair, while Dan Rather will soon be scuttling into the mousehole of shame and crossed off the Clintons’ Christmas card list. Nobody watches your crappy shows, and you’re still getting smack for the Super Bowl from all sides (re: the Move On ad from the left, re: Janet from the right). So I’m sure that right about now, you’re downright relieved to sit back, relax, and hit play on the classic Christmas claymation specials that people have counted on you to recycle for 40 years.

The problem is, I fear you’ve taken this annual respite a bit for granted, in that I’m guessing you haven’t actually watched “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” since 1964. I’ll admit that I faithfully tune in every year to enjoy one of my favorite childhood classics, but usually end up leaving it on in the background while putzing around. Last night was the first time in many years that I’ve sat down and watched the thing carefully from beginning to end. And honestly, nostalgia aside, it could not be more dumbfoundingly inappropriate family programming.

We’ll sideline for a moment the sheer technical crapicity, seeing as we all need to be reminded that there was a simpler time before The Incredibles (frigging awesome movie, by the way). But here are a few highlights from this heartwarming tale of an outcast made good:

- Donner, Rudy’s dad, explains that he must cover his deformity because the most important thing is “self-respect”.

- When Rudy’s fake snoot pops off, Santa scolds Donner for having such a freakish son. Santa.

- Clarice the doe gives it up pretty much immediately, and in fact seems to have a bit of a fetish for the nose.

- When Rudolph and Hermey the Elf-who-wants-to-be-a-dentist run away from Christmastown (because they’re freaks), they meet a prospector named Yukon Cornelius who needs to go shopping for “cornmeal, gunpowder, hamhocks, guitar strings.”

- Donner insists that Mrs. Donner stay home while he goes out to look for Rudolph, because “this is man’s work”. She and Clarice go anyway, beause they’re foolish twits.

- Rudolph gets to the Abominable Snowman’s cave just as his family is about to be eaten, and then Hermey and Cornelius save all the deer by knocking the monster out with ice and then pulling out all his teeth.

- Toothless Joe, Cornelius, and Cornelius’s dogs fall over a cliff, apparently tumbling to their gruesome deaths. Everyone is sad “but they realize that the best thing to do is to get the women back to Christmastown.”

- I won’t even go into the Island of Misfit Toys.

- It turns out that Cornelius isn’t dead (because the monster bounced), and he has managed to tame the gummy snowman into submission, and thank god, because now the helpless creature can help put the star on Christmastown’s tree. Before he starves to death.

- Good-for-nothing glow-schnoz is finally accepted when Santa the prick realizes he needs the phosphorescent proboscus in order to navigate the Christmas Eve storm, teaching all the world’s children that it’s ok to be different as long as your freakishness can be exploited for fun or profit.

Now that I think about it, this program is actually entirely consistent with your corporate policies and practices, including your decision today to ban an advertisement showing a gay couple being turned away from a church. It was silly of me to challenge your continued airing of an ethically questionable family favorite. Please disregard the above letter.

Happy Holidays,

p.s. I saw a nicely dressed guy, briefcase and everything, skateboarding to work this morning. I love the city.

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  1. JR

     /  December 2, 2004

    Wow. I have serious blog design envy. My will-work-for-free design elves have been instructed to take note.

  2. Not to mention the fact that it makes me wander around for several days muttering “NO-one wants a CHARLIE-in-the-box!” whenever something goes wrong.

    And I thought this post was going to be just another The Forbidden Dance Is Rudolph thing, but you came in at the end with the ad thing that I read about this morning and actually flicked the newspaper in disgust. THAT’LL show ‘em.

  3. J, all you have to do is devote an obscene number of hours to trial and error in technical areas you know absolutely nothing about, hounding tech support with obnoxious questions hourly and strongarming them into giving you advice on third-party software and design code that they don’t support. And then get a friend who’s a PhotoShop expert to work on your graphics while they’re at work. It’s easy, really.

  4. To say nothing of … well, let’s just say, dentist? Allegory. Serious allegory.

  5. is this the episode where santa is all skinny at the start because he’s been faithfully working his Adkin’s(tm) diet? or was it his Subway low fat sub(tm) diet? i can never remember.

  6. I saw this, too – horrifying. I so do not remember that from when I was six.

    I saw the banned commercial, too. Not only a gay couple, but people of color and a disabled person were turned away. As you say, horrible but not surprising that CBS would ditch it; on the other hand, there has been so much press about it that it’s totally backfired. I saw the banned commercial on and CNN, so it’s not as though this has been hushed up. Let’s hope people realize what utter asses this makes the CBS execs. There’s a lot of public outcry, from what I can tell.

  7. You know what I always wondered was, how is this the VERY FIRST TIME Santa has ever encountered a snowstorm on Christmas Eve? I mean come on. It is so unrealistic to claim that he wouldn’t have thought about getting some sort of lights for his flying reindeer before the 60s.

  8. i’ve also never really approved of how the peanuts kids scorn pigpen just because he’s dirty.

  9. Buy your robosapien in time for Christmas. Don’t miss out.

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