There are a number of questions that remain among life’s most imponderable. What is the true nature of good and evil? Why does God allow suffering? And the most important question of all — at least as it relates to western culture — in Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, what in the heck was wrong with the doll that it earned a place of shame on The Island of Misfit Toys?
For the benefit of those who’ve on another planet for the last forty years, one of the key conceits of the Rankin-Bass Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas TV special is that “defective” toys that no child loves all end up on the Island of Misfit Toys, presided over by the kindly King Nightracer. Among the island’s disgraced residents are a squirt gun that shoots jelly, a cowboy that rides an ostrich, a spotted elephant, a train with square wheels . . . and a doll that appears to have absolutely nothing at all wrong with it.
My brother and I always pondered exactly what the doll’s problem might be. She didn’t appear to have any undergarments on, but we let that particular quirk slide. Perhaps, we thought, it suffered from some invisible ailment, like Tourette Syndrome, that caused her to unleash a stream of profanities instead of a plain “mama.” But then, we heard her speak normally to the rest of the toys — so, so much for that one. Finally, we decided we knew what her problem was.
To this day, we still refer to her as “Diarrhea Dolly.”
A Misfit Toy indeed.