This morning I woke up and checked Facebook like I always do. My sister’s status update made me laugh:
“So, we watched Rudolph tonight and it was harsh! Santa made fun of Rudolph, and yelled at Rudolph’s dad for hiding the fact that he was a freak. Rudolph’s dad told his mom to stay home because it was a man’s job. Yukon Cornelius was packing heat. Hermey the elf was obviously gay, and kicked out of the elf club AND he pulled out all the Abomoinable Snowman’s teeth to save his friends. All the toys that were different were sent to the Island of Misfits. Way to teach kids tolerance!”
I smiled and laughed, but realized my sister was right. There is no way that original storyboard would have made it past today’s network execs. In fact, very few of the Christmas specials would have made the cut. Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town? The Burgermeister guy was mean! A baby is left sitting on a doorstep, and shuttled off to the orphan asylum except the wind takes him! Kids forced into hard labor! No toys! Then Kris sneaks into people’s homes. Really? How frightening! And most of the characters end up in a dungeon!
We watched the Grinch last night. (TiVo is a wonderful thing when your kids go to sleep at 7.) I was scared of his red eyes. And the fact that he was pantless, and breaking into people’s homes. I spent the entire time making fun of it to my husband. (Quietly, of course.) We both cracked up when the narrator said the Grinch “whizzed down the mountain with his load.”
Frosty the Snowman is equally as scary. Kids who run away. Frosty worries that Karen, the heroine, is going to die of the cold. She looks like she’s going to, too. The mean magician locks them both in the greenhouse and Frosty does die. And A Charlie Brown Christmas? None of those Charlie Brown cartoons are “appropriate” by today’s standards. The kids want money and real estate for Christmas. (Remember that line? “Just send money. Particularly tens and 20s.”) And the screaming and calling of names! Just terrible! But the most egregious part is probably the fact that they tell the Christmas story. The actual one. Religion and television don’t mix today unless you’re talking about FoxNews. (J/K)
I’m really glad I get to watch these shows with my daughter. She was so cute last night, noticing something I didn’t: “Wow, that Grinch is not nice to his dog,” she told us. She was right. She’s never seen a character whip an animal before. It was a good way to discuss animal violence, and how we want her to act. Still, I am the same person who commented on a friend’s very long Facebook thread about the appropriateness of having 5- and 6-year-old children at an adult’s movie. (The movie in question was 2012) I am against it. I don’t think children should ever be exposed to true violence before the age of 13. The experts agree or they wouldn’t have created the PG-13 rating.
Back to my very un-PC Christmas specials. I think it’s rather funny that, if the above movies were up for consideration today, they would probably need many changes to get past the network censors. And parents would applaud them. And yet the majority of Americans wouldn’t think twice about letting their kids see an obviously adult movie. We, as a society, are raising kids who aren’t allowed to lose, are coddled and cushioned, and yet are given free reign to see the most egregious violence out there. It’s a scary world, readers. And not just because there’s a guy on my TV trying to kill a snowman.
Did you love the Christmas specials as a child? Which was your favorite? What do you think about them today? Do you let your kids watch TV specials? How about PG or PG-13 movies? Tell us your story.