Corinne Conley, one of the voice actors of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, defended the beloved childhood classic, which has come under renewed scrutiny in recent years for its depiction of bullying.
In an interview with TMZ this weekend, Conley said the holiday special should be considered "more relevant" now than ever before "because there is so much bullying going on." After all, in the end, Rudolph is shown overcoming the bullying he faces and leads Santa Claus's sleigh.
If Rudolph did not have a happy ending, it "wouldn't be so indelible in people's hearts," Conley, who voiced a doll in Rudolph, explained. She went on to say that when people tell her they love Rudolph, she does not believe they are associating it with bullying, "or at least bullying that hasn't been reconciled."
The A Simple Favor actress went on to say it is "good" that more people are becoming sensitive and aware of bullying.
"I don't think that by getting sensitive to bullying that you want to copy it... you want to get rid of it!" Conley said. "And certainly in Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, everyone is reconciled happily at the end of the movie and let's hope in today's society, the things that people are bullying about can also be rectified."
In the end, Conley disagreed with the idea that people will be inspired to bully others because of Rudolph. In fact, she hopes that bullies who watch it will learn a lesson from it.
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer debuted in 1964 and has aired annually ever since. The half-hour Rankin/Bass special, based on the Johnny Marks song and the Robert Lewis May story, aired this year on CBS Tuesday.
Viewers at home pointed out that Rudolph is frequently bullied — even by Santa — throughout the story before they learn how Rudolph's shiny red nose can save Christmas Eve.
In a 2010 interview with the Television Academy, Rudolph co-producer Arthur Rankin Jr. said he believed Rudolph helped children who might feel "slightly inferior" because it inspired them to find their own roles.
"When the characters are relieved of their problems by their own actions — like Rudolph became the lead because he was very needed and he fulfilled a big role — Hermey became a dentist because he conquered Bumble," Rankin, who died in 2014, explained. "And kids love to see someone of their own stride, their own age or their own inferiority, achieve things. That makes them feel good. I think that's probably the reason these films last so long, because in all our films, that happens. The bad guy becomes the good guy at the end, he's reformed, and the underdog fulfills his quest."
Rudolph will air once again on CBS at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, Dec. 8.
Photo credit: CBS/Classic Media