Friday, December 19, 2003

Didn’t I ever tell you about Bumbles?

Hi-De-Ho Rene,

So, growing up as a California kid, did you have any favorite Christmas television specials? I sure did, and I was able to sit down and relive 60 minutes of childhood last week watching “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

As a child, I thought the show was almost unbearably tense, with all that rejection, loss and lurking danger, but I loved it all the more. As an adult, I notice how much of the hour-long program IS rejection, loss and lurking danger, with snippets of comic relief and short, happy songs interspersed before an ultimately satisfying ending with about 5 minutes to go.

Kids today supposedly like “edgy” entertainment, or at least that’s what the entertainment industry seems to think. But “Rudolph” debuted in 1964 and featured a father ashamed of his son, authority figures (Santa and Comet) quick to disapprove of a nonconformity, an island full of misfits with low self-esteem, kidnapping, violence, dentistry used as a weapon, two apparent deaths, force-feeding, and much disappointment. There’s a lot of pain in that hour, even if soothed by a happy ending.

I remember getting teary-eyed for Rudolph at more than one point in the story, just like I did for Charlie Brown when the other kids made fun of his scraggly Christmas tree in another classic from the '60s, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” It seems like today’s entertainment only asks kids to laugh at somebody else’s problems, not share in their pain. But I’m not a children’s television expert, so perhaps I’m judging on too small a sample size.

What do you think?


p.s. Bumbles bounce!


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