‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’: Promoting Bullying?

Sometimes I have to wonder if some people have way too much time on their hands.

A classic Christmas special and the song which inspired it promoting bullying? Honestly?

Odd as it sounds, there’s someone who thinks such may be the case.

Long Island University instructor Dr. George Giuliani says the 1964 holiday classic tale depicts bullying because of Rudolph’s nose – which glows red. From being rejected by his own father, Donner, to initially being excluded from Santa’s team of reindeer and being mocked by other reindeer, Rudolph does overcome his obstacles and guides Santa’s team of reindeer on a very foggy Christmas Eve night, and “then all the reindeer loved him.”

According to Dr.Giuliani, who wrote No More Bullies at the North Pole about the famous tale, “There is a parallel between Rudolph and most special education or exceptional children, and every child in the world who has ever been mocked or bullied.Rudolph is exceptional, just as children with any emotional, learning or physical disability are. With Santa’s approval, Rudolph was treated unfairly and consistently offended, mocked and bullied by others.”

While both Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Dr.Giuliani’s book have happy endings, one point remains clear in both: our red-nosed hero went through many trials and tribulations to gain acceptance.

“Also found in the story are incidents of sexism, favoritism, exclusion and hypocritical behavior, among other negative behavior,” said Dr. Giuliani, who noted that the word “misfit” was used 27 times in the half-hour TV special.

Does a 47-year-old television program about a special reindeer accepting and overcoming being different depict bullying as being “okay”, or – as some people perceive, that it’s actually delivering an opposite message to viewers – though some people are different on the outside, they can possess the same inner traits as others and bullying is not acceptable?

I guess it depends on perceptions of each viewer. What do you think?

No More Bullies at the North Pole is published by CGRC Publishers of America. For more information, visit www.learningaboutbullying.com..


2 responses to “‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’: Promoting Bullying?

  1. Hum… this is a tough one for me. I grew up with this beloved classic, but it wasn’t until I watched it for the first time with my kids that I heard the negative messages (pointed out by my kids).

    For starts, maybe growing up in that claymation era made me immune to adults being physically and verbally abusive. I watched friends get smacked in the head by parents in public and teachers openly yank kids by the arm,shove them in corners and humiliate the kid further by ranting on about how the kid would never amount to anything.

    I accepted this as normal, so Santa and a father rejecting and ridiculing a reindeer for being different alongside peers went into my acceptable file.

    As my kids pointed out, this is never acceptable. Further, there were no apologies in the end, just recognition for a job well done, which brings me to the second point (also pointed out by wise young un’s)

    So.. unless you can do something extraordinary with the one thing that sets you apart, will you remain a loser? I doubt the kid who wet his pants in the forth grade on a class trip and still gets teased about it in high school will find a positive spin on the incident unless he becomes the bad ass and pees on the principal for his classmates’ amusement.

    The only true role model of the story is the elf who wanted to be a dentist. He stayed true to himself and shone brighter because he developed his interest and used it to prevail, unlike Rodolph who triumphed by happenstance.

    Dr. Seuss has the best and most honest representations of human nature on the subjects of inclusion and acceptance. I’d rather see Christmastime showings of the Sneeches and Horton Hears a Who, than promote the wonders of Randolph. It’s an outdated message poorly presented by people who didn’t know any better.


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