'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' Bullying Scenes Under Fire

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is stirring up some controversy 54 years after its premiere.

The beloved holiday special aired on CBS Tuesday night, and, as our sister-site Comicbook.com points out, a lot of viewers picked up on some aspects of the special they overlooked as children.

The main criticism comes from the bullying aspect of the beloved Rankin/Bass special. Rudolph (Billie Mae Richards) is relentlessly teased by his peers, his family and Santa Claus until he is forced to flee into the wilderness. While he finds new friends that accept him as he is, he is not accepted by his original community until his glowing nose is useful.

These aspects have always been part of the Romeo Muller-penned special, as well as the Johnny Marks song and the Robert Lewis May story it is based on. However, this fresh viewing makes some believe his peers were too harsh on Rudolph and exploited him later.

"I've never liked [Rudolph]. The coach is a bully, Santa is a bully, and all the other "kids,'" one user wrote. "Then the ONLY reason they accepted him is because he could do something for them. Crazy message."

Another fan added, "My saddest takeaway in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is how dismissive [and] mean Santa is when they first meet the red nose. Really Santa?!?!

Some fans saw it differently. They viewed it, not as exploitation, but as celebration of differences and abilities. However, some fans just did not accept that reading.

"I think there’s a message. But maybe it’s that we should celebrate our differences-that each of has unique talents to bring to the table," one Twitter user wrote. "That’s the Rudolph message I grew up with anyway. Such a snarky, hyper-critical world these days."

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Another viewer wrote, "That's not it at all. They made fun of for being different. UNTIL they figured out they needed him. If they accepted him from the get go. Then yes your stance holds true. But they didn't. Therefore, they were 'using' him."

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer will air again Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.