Every December, my family settles in to watch our favorite animated holiday classics like “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” These cheery tales of delightful misfits who learn new lessons about Christmas never fail to warm our hearts.
After many repeat viewings, I’ve noticed a pattern in the holiday high jinks of Rudolph, Charlie and Mr. Grinch: Their stories are really about deeper issues to do with social status, class struggles, identity politics and capitalism. This year, especially, the themes running through these yuletide yarns seem to echo those peppering many a presidential campaign.
I’ll let you interpret which candidates might be represented by which cartoon, but here is what I’ve gleaned: All of these cartoons offer up main characters who are exiled from their communities, be it through choice or duress. The Grinch’s reclusive lifestyle is annually interrupted by neighboring noise pollution. Rudolph and Hermey the elf choose nomadic lives of independence over their coworkers’ constant ridicule. Charlie Brown’s cast and crew reject his authority as a theater director while berating his choice in Christmas trees. In each case, these festive fellows are faced with a stark choice: social conformity or isolation.