I loved the Christmas specials of the sixties. Mom and my brother and I would make sure that we watched each one. In those pre-video-on-demand days, these programs were like old friends who visited once a year. To miss one would be agony- we would have to wait an entire year to see it again. We were captivated by the Grinch, Charlie Brown, Frosty, and even little Cindy Lou Who. This was, of course, before she grew up and married John Mc Cain.
My stylistic favorite was the incomparable Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, a symphony in stop motion animation first broadcast in 1964. It was truly the most glamorous of the specials, very different in tone from the cool jazz sophistication of Charlie Brown. And Charlie was sponsored by Dolly Madison cakes and zingers- we never had those in our house. But GE brings good things to life, and we had electricity. I watched the Debut on our RCA New Vista Color set, and eagerly awaited each anniversary broadcast.
Rudolph had come a long way from his creation as a mere window display by Montgomery Ward's in Chicago for the 1938 season. Immortalized in song by Gene Autry, he became one of the most beloved advertising icons of all time. No owner then that he was rewarded with his own show, I mean, even Judy Garland was doing it.
This special had a dose of sixties reality- Santa was cantankerous and mean, elves fought among themselves, Rudolph was outcast because he was different, Hermey ran away to find himself and even toys were quarantined if society deemed them unfit. But somehow the "misfits" saved the day. Call it early diversity training. I'm sure countless children were driven to therapy because of this show, but I (and many of my gay brothers and sisters) embraced it. Finally different was okay.
Except for Santa. Not the cool GTO driving Santa from yesterday. Santa was not a likable character. Barking at the Missus, insulting the elves, humiliating newborn Rudolph. Santa was a dick. And I'm not the only one to see it. The folks at Camp Jinx prepared this objective analysis. They have him on tape. Watch for yourself:
Santa is a dick.