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8 Current-Day Life Lessons From ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’

We may be all grown up, but most of us remember the old stop-motion creations of holiday classics from the 60s. They’re trotted out on cable television every December, reminding us of childhood and simpler times.

But were they secretly, radically progressive for their time?

Here are eight ways the Rankin/Bass cartoon of “Rudolph the Red Nosed-Reindeer” was way ahead of its time.

Being Different Is Celebrated


The character was conceived in 1939, long before people started blaming millennials for ruining everything with their “be yourself” individualism. But the moral of the story is exactly that. Be yourself, and the rest will follow.

Haters To The Left

“You’ll be a normal little buck, just like everybody else,” Rudolph’s dad tells him, literally minutes after the kid is born. It’s downhill from there for Rudy’s self-esteem. “For the first few years, the Donners did a pretty good job hiding Rudolph’s… ‘non-conformity,’” the snowman narrator says. The idea of non-conformity basically shaped a generation of punk-rockers and misfits for the next 40 years and counting. Did this cartoon kick it off? Verdict’s out. But speaking of misfits…

Meaningful Work Is Crucial

Herbie the misfit wasn’t content to stay on the assembly line at a job he hated. When he brought these concerns to his boss, the man shamed Herbie into oblivion in from of the whole company. Damn.

Down With The Patriarchy

Despite emotionally abusing his son for his entire childhood, Rudolph’s dad demands to be the only one to look for him when the kid runs away from home. He tells Ms. Donner she can’t come along, because it’s “man work.” As soon as the old bastard is gone, however, Rudy’s new girlfriend appears, and the ladies set off on their own journey to find him.

Bullies Suck


When his nose is revealed as being different, all of the reindeers in training, including the coach, join in to mock Rudolph. A step toward bullying awareness, even in the 60’s, perhaps?

Everyone Can Contribute

Social outcasts including spotted elephant, a train with square wheels, and a gun that shoots… jelly? …are the new squad Rudolph finds. Alright, cue the Twenty One Pilots song.

It’s Never Too Late To Change


The Abominable Snowman spends most of his time terrorizing the creatures of the North Pole, sending them hiding whenever he casts a shadow. But by the end of their journey, ol’ Abominable’s heart has grown three sizes—and all he wants is a job decorating Christmas trees.

Sometimes, You Don’t Have The Whole Story

Ever notice how the miner, Yukon Cornelius, is constantly licking that pickaxe in a really weird way? Well, there’s more to that than a weapons fetish, as Snopes reported. In a deleted scene, Yukon says he’s been looking for peppermint mines all along.

Just a reminder to treat everyone with decency, and give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to being a, um, non-conformist.

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