ScreenTime: The Dark Secret Hidden In “Elf”

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For most families, Christmas is over. Not so in our house. Rudolph’s dread hold still grasps us, and will continue to grasp well into February. The plaintive wail of “WANNA WATCH RUDOWW!” is heard night and day, ceaselessly calling us back to that winter wonderland.

To give myself and my family some respite during these trying times, I have resorted to playing any Rudolph-adjacent movie I can find. All the Rankin-Bass specials? Check. The Grinch? Check. Finally, running out of ideas, I opted for the 2003 Christmas classic, Elf.

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My daughter was indifferent until Leon the snowman appeared on screen. At this, she clapped her hands with glee and shouted, “RUDOWW!!”

And she was right. Leon looks and sounds EXACTLY like Sam, the narrator of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Leon claims to have no father, that he was, “just rolled up one day,” and we have no idea how old either character is, nor how aging or reproduction works for sentient snow creatures. But at the very least these two are related by species, and seem to hold a similar office in Christmastown. This, and a few other references peppered throughout, prove that Elf & Rudolph take place in the same world. Buddy & Rudolph come from the same North Pole.

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It was a few minutes later that my daughter asked the fateful question: “Where Rudoww?”

She had noticed something I had not picked up on. A stark difference between Buddy’s North Pole and Rudolph’s. Something terrible has happened in the time between the two stories.

The reindeer have been silenced.

Gone are the sentient, talking reindeer like Rudolph and his friends and family. In their place are the dumb beasts of our world.

What did Santa do to the reindeer population? Where, indeed, Rudoww?

No clear answers are given by either movie, but the clues are there, if we care to follow them.

Let’s start by looking at the two biggest changes that occurred during our absence from the North Pole:

First, the toys have become MASSIVELY more complicated and more diverse. In 1966 the elves were building Jack In The Boxes (Jacks in the Box?) and dolls. By 2003 they’re building graphics processors, Etch-A-Sketches… oh, and also still building Jack In The Boxes for some reason. Santa’s operation has gotten much more technically difficult and much harder to manage. Hell, he’s even shipping branded gifts (the “real Huff board” for example), which would require corporate partnerships, factory inspections, licensing deals, etc. etc.

Second, Santa’s reserve of Christmas Spirit, his most important fuel source, is running low.

I put these points to my kid, and together we came up with a theory: A massive increase in the complexity of Santa’s operation plus a catastrophic depletion of resources has caused a full-on Kris Kringle Economic Crisis.

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Santa has had to cut costs. Drastically. But Santa also has an image to maintain. He can’t just outsource all his manufacturing to China. So what does he do?

First of all, break the Elf union. As we watch the Elves make toys in Rudolph, a whistle blows and the floor manager declares, “10 Minute Break!” There’s no way this isn’t union mandated. At the time of Rudolph, Santa is the ONLY elf employer, he has unparalleled demand, limited supply, and an extremely tight deadline. No matter how “jolly” he is, there’s just no way the self-styled King Of Jingling is giving these Elves hot chocolate breaks of his own accord.

Contrast this with the incredibly high-paced, quota-focused workshop that Buddy the Elf is working in. No union with any real power would allow such high pressure conditions. The Elves’ collective bargaining power has clearly been significantly reduced. We should assume this strategy was taken with all groups under Santa’s employ.

Step two: Restructuring and layoffs. In Rudolph, the North Pole’ s position is extremely clear: Elves Make Toys. Heck, a large section the plot is concerned with the one elf, EVER, who didn’t find this line of work appealing.

Contrast this with 2003’s policies. Shoe Making, Engine Maintenance, Teaching, presumably Dentistry. All these are now considered acceptable employment for elves. We must assume that Elves were forced into these other lines of work by not only massive layoffs at Christmas Incorporated, but also by other creatures being placed in toymaking roles (this is also further evidence that the Elf union has been broken).

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By Buddy’s own admission, the only reason that these other, presumably low-wage, creatures didn’t replace elves entirely was their lack of ability in their roles. What if Santa found he could replace his entire workforce with not only cheap labor, but effectively free labor. Labor that came without the burdensome costs of benefits, paid holiday, pensions. Wouldn’t he, in such dire straits, leap at such an opportunity?

I surmise this is what must have happened to Rudolph and his family. Upon discovering that (with the help of modern technology) he could entirely do away with sentient reindeer in his workforce, Santa replaced them with their dumb cousins. A cost-saving measure, a necessary evil to keep up with fast-paced 21st Century life.

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I explained all this to my daughter, who took it in with an impressed but serious face. Then she paused, considered for a second and repeated that fateful question.

“Where Rudoww?”

And the best I could tell her was that he had moved on. And together we hoped he had gone to greener pastures. Some magical land with strong social security initiatives and workers’ rights protections.

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Artist Wife Illustrates The Drastic Ways Her Husband’s Life Changed After Kids

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Chen Weng, an illustrator who goes by the name The Messycow, has created a series of comics showing just how much things change when one becomes a father.

Which do you relate to most?

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Check out more from this series on The Messycow’s Facebook page and website.

Dad Dinosaur: Prehistoric Reunion

Dad Dinosaur’s high school reunion is fast approaching, but will he be able to win the big dance contest – or are his moves stuck in the past?

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Father Figures: Risky Business

“As the garage door closed behind me, I heard a muffled whimper.

“What is that?” I wondered. Another whimper and I noticed eight fingers on the lid of one of the garbage cans in the corner. I spy a set of eyes, then a nose and finally my oldest son’s face.

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean it.”

“What happened? Where is your brother?” No answers, just sobbing.

He moped toward the door and I followed him into the kitchen. I half-expected to see CSI investigators hovering over a chalk outline.

We walked around the corner by the refrigerator, and only then did I see his brother and allow myself to take my first breath. Then I saw a hole in the drywall the size of a young boy’s torso.

They had been running & sliding, in their stocking feet, across the marbled kitchen floor. Obviously a bit too exuberantly! I was relieved that they were both okay, but I still mustered enough anger to quash any future escapades.

Each blamed the other, of course. I used to say I couldn’t always tell when my kids were lying, but I could always tell when they were telling the truth.

If that makes any sense to you, I’m guessing you’ve raised at least two boys.”

  • Ron Fuller

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email fatherfigures@thedad.com

Son Surprises Ailing Dad With Tickets To College World Series

Father’s Day is a special time to celebrate your old man, and show him how much you appreciate the role he’s played in your life all these years. Especially since, as we get older, our dads do too, and they may not have many Father’s Days left.

Matt Lea recognized that this Father’s Day, and so went out of his way to make it a memorable one, for both him and his father, both former college baseball players who bonded over the game as Matt was growing up.

Matt’s father Billy suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease, and the symptoms have been accruing rapidly. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t time for more memories, and Matt used the latest Father’s Day as an opportunity to do just that. The 36-year-old drove 12 hours, from Florida to Mississippi, and surprised his parents at their doorstep on Sunday.

He was bearing gifts as well, bringing his dad the jersey of his favorite baseball team, Mississippi State. But that wasn’t all. Matt brought tickets too, to see the College World Series in Omaha in person.

In video of the exchange that Matt posted on Twitter, his dad was clearly taken by surprise.

“I figured it’s probably not good enough just for us to watch the game here,” Matt says in the video as he produces the tickets. “How about we go to Omaha? Do you want to go up to Omaha and watch the College World Series together?”

“Golly,” an emotional Billy responds. “You’re gonna break my heart, here.”

Matt’s gift for his dad received a rapturous response from Twitter, where it’s been liked 46,000 times and retweeted 11,000 times.

Matt seemed as surprised by the response as his dad was by the gift, as everyone who celebrated Father’s Day yesterday knows, there’s nothing better than sharing meaningful memories with your dad, which is exactly what Matt did. An article on Omaha.com details Billy’s baseball past, the initial diagnosis of his Alzheimer’s, the VIP experience Matt treated him too over the weekend.

Matt’s Twitter account showcased the rest.

Happy Father’s Day!

Amazing Street Artist Uses Everyday Objects As His Canvas

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Artist Tom Bob doesn’t see the world like other people. Where you and I might see sewer grates or metal pipes, he sees ghosts and saxophone players.

Check out some of the amazing ways he’s transforming parts of New York City into works of art.

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Check out more of Tom Bob and his unique artwork here.

Father Figures: Heroes

“On February 2, 2011, my daughter was born. The whole thing started pretty normally about 2:30 am or so, my wife woke me up and said, ‘Honey, it is time to go,’ so we went to the hospital in a snowstorm.

That was the easy part.

When they put the belly monitor on her they noticed that the babies heart rate would drop to low whenever my wife would have a contraction. She needed emergency C-section, but the doctor could not make it due to the storm, and when he finally arrived it was rush rush rush!
Well when my daughter Emily did arrive, she had internal bleeding throughout her body, which included two grade 4 brain bleeds. We could not touch her because she would bruise and start bleeding.
They had to life-flight her to the university, where she spent 5 1/2 weeks in the NICU, which left her (you may want to sit down) deaf/blind, with hydrocephalus, a shunt, cerebral palsy, and seizures (at age 6, she needed a baclofen pump because her CP got too bad to handle without it). She is doing great today. She is happy, loves life, and everyone who meets her says that she makes their day and she is beautiful.
To pay back our little community, I became a first responder, mostly a firefighter, but I did help with EMS. Never got my certification, but that is where I found out that in the U.S. we do not have any training for first responders to deal with children with special needs.
I have made it my personal mission to teach first responders about kids with special needs.
I have taken to Emily to every EMS/Fire station in the five counties around me. I have taken her to the police and sheriff’s departments to train them, and now I have a waiting list to get trained.
I don’t know if I am the hero here, but I needed to tell the story.”

– Mike Kuyper

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email fatherfigures@thedad.com

Low Cost Cosplay Guy Makes The World A Better Place

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Anucha “Cha” Saengchart, the genius behind “Low Cost Cosplay,” has amassed millions of followers with his incredible reimaginings of famous fictional characters.

Whether you’re planning on portraying your favorite anime character or a Marvel superhero, this guy can show you how to do it effectively and on a string budget.

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Can’t get enough? Check out more creative cosplay on his Facebook page.