|Is man no more than this?|
Last night I figured that even if there's no snow on the ground, I can at least have snow on my television screen, so I watched a movie that heavily featured snow in its story. I could have chosen any Christmas movie, I guess, or John Carpenter's The Thing, but I ended up plucking the Rankin-Bass special Frosty the Snowman from the DVR…because not only do I want it to snow, I want the entire world to be animated.
Rankin-Bass released this cartoon adaptation of the song in 1969. Narrated (and sung) by Jimmy Durante, with comedian Jackie Vernon voicing Frosty, the story Christmases up the original not-really-Christmas song with Santa and decorations and such. It also gives the story a villain besides the snow-unfriendly sun. An evil, bumbling magician, to be specific.
I mean, just like most childhoods, his first breaths of consciousness were full of enthusiasm, happiness, and wonder. And then, ten minutes later, everything turned to absolute peril when he realized that the world was an inhospitable place for such as him. Seriously, it was mere seconds and a bit of song refrain between “I am alive! What a neat thing to happen.” To “Uh-oh. Is there a thermometer around here?” It’s like the whole thought arc of the plummeting whale in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Of course, Santa Claus (who, as you know, speaks a fluent rabbit) saves the day and resurrects Frosty with a mere finger laid aside his nose (so to speak). And that, kids, is why some say we’ve made up God. Because life is short and wretched, and evil magicians want to steal our silk hat souls.
In fact, in the original song, it’s even worse. There is no deus ex machina in a red suit and white beard. “Hurry on his way” is the euphemism used there for the end of Frosty, along with a vague eternal-lify promise of being back some day.
And just like that, Frosty becomes the saddest Christmas character of them all for me. Sure, Rudolph got made fun of, but that turned out OK. A prenatal Christ was rejected from every inn in town and had to start his short wretchedness in an animal trough, but he turned out OK, too. Minus the crucifixion bit. Frosty didn’t get a better life. He just was allowed the bare minimum. He was allowed to live…sort of. The way he talked about the North Pole, it could easily have been his version of heaven. It's a place where all his worldly problems are supposed to be solved, after all. So the Santa God-figure appears to take Frosty to the heaven of the North Pole just so Karen and her friends don't have to face up to the fact that he might not have been more than frozen water, anyway. Sure, later in other specials Frosty gets married, has children, and befriends Rudolph, but that’s all apocryphal to the original story.
|That's how I felt at the end, too.|
But you know what? There must have been some magic in that old Rankin-Bass special I watched. While it was playing, which was around 11 pm last night, it started to snow outside. A fine snow, with no hope of accumulation, but just enough to be able to change my mood. At least it would have ordinarily, if I hadn’t just interpreted all those floating, individually unique building blocks of Frosty as a representation of the misery of the human condition.
Ha. What’s Christmas without a Scrooge. I need Emmet Otter. Stat.