If you have never seen Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, you might be better off for it. I hate to admit that, as I am a well known super-fan of all things Christmas, perhaps most especially these so-called Christmas specials that bring me right back to the magical holidays of my childhood. My parents really did Christmas right, and no matter how hard I try I will never be able to recapture that wonder I felt on Christmas morning, or the deeply comforting energy of a house full of three generations of family. Those were good years, a time never to be duplicated in this new world of scattered families and virtual friends.
But that’s a topic for another day. Today I would like to explain why the Island of Misfit Toys is so totally messed up! Santa’s atrocious behavior on this particular program has been brilliantly dissected…honestly, who would want that difficult, cantankerous, ungrateful old coot coming to visit, even with free toys? When he tells Rudolph’s father that “he should be ashamed of himself” when the red nose is finally exposed to the herd at large, we have no idea if he means he should be ashamed of his son’s “defect” or he should be ashamed for hiding it. This is not a good thing to be confused about, especially if you have any “defects” of your own.
Which leads me to these so-called “misfit” toys. By what or who’s standards are they misfits? Have they been rejected by the obviously at-fault toymakers or by actual children? Because most kids I know would KILL for a water pistol that shoots jelly, you dig? I’m amazed this fun snacking device has not been manufactured en masse to this day. Pure marketing gold, I’ll tell you! Also, obviously once the jelly is gone you could, if you lack imagination and wit, just fill the damned thing with water. Seriously, this is hardly an insurmountable obstacle.
And as for the Jack-in the-Box named Charlie…huh? If you hadn’t gone on national TV crying about it, I’d be none the wiser, pal! And if you are so despondent at your fate, exiled to a frigid island by some mysterious tyrant, why are you being so stubborn about the name Charlie? Would it kill you to go by “Jack” for professional reasons, really? I think the problem may be more your attitude than your name. Same for the cowboy riding an ostrich. His unfortunate voice notwithstanding, I’m sure he could find himself a nice toy horse if he really looked around, rather than moping on the frozen tundra. And while I understand the difficulties faced by the train with square wheels on the caboose, I would venture to make a rather cutthroat suggestion: lose the caboose. Most kids are only interested in the engines, anyhow. Maybe the ostrich can pull the caboose around? Let's think outside the box, Jack.
Finally, about those toys with no apparent defect who still choose to hang out with the misfits (I’m talking about YOU, dolly named Sue…) This may be an esteem issue. If we are to take a positive message from this otherwise disturbing biopic of the red-nosed reindeer, it would be to not only respect our differences, but embrace them. It did not appear at first that a red-nosed reindeer would be terribly useful, but then look how that all turned out! Unfortunately, by lumping in a perfectly good doll (and a polka dot elephant?) with all the rejects, a far less uplifting message might be heard…you may not know what is wrong with you, but WE DO. And we are willing to exile you at a moment's notice without warning or provocation. It’s a losing battle, Sue. You’ll never be pretty enough, sweet enough, good enough. You are a misfit because WE SAID SO.
And that’s why the island of misfit toys sends a crap message.