The story of Easter can’t help but move you to your very soul! The love, the sacrifice, the moment of doubt and ultimately the resurrection that allows the message of hope to be spread to everyone for ever after! And though we inevitably come up wanting in trying to follow his example, his love for us never wanes! So I praise you Stuffy, the first Easter Rabbit!
Stuffy, you made me believe that what always seemed like a third rate holiday personality, was actually a quite respectable second rate dude, who smartly leaned on Santa to do all the heavy lifting in getting his expansion present-giving holiday off the ground. (This is a Rankin/Bass secular cartoon where Christian Easter seemingly doesn’t exist. Normally this would be quite offensive, but how can you get wound up about a talking rabbit coloring eggs? Or as Jeffrey Hunter might have said in King of Kings, “Feed My sheep, for My sheep are in all the nations and they got a hankering for Peeps!”)
While Stuffy’s secret origin sounds vaguely like it was lifted from the New Testament, it was actually apparently “borrowed” for a different holy text altogether – The Velveteen Rabbit!
Stuffy is Glinda’s favorite toy, but when she gets a dose of the Scarlet Fever, it is Stuffy who gets the death sentence! Stuffy cries, wondering what was the use of being loved when your only crime is that your owner has some type of old time cooties and now you’re going to be burned to death the next morning? (I was pro death penalty until I saw this scene!)
If only there was an Innocence Project for possibly plague-ridden stuffed animals! Luckily for Stuffy there is! Thanks to his magic tears, a fairy appears and makes him a real rabbit! And also gives him a job, telling him to haul ass to Easter Valley and get on with being the first Easter Bunny!
While it is clearly a daunting task, Stuffy lucks out when he runs into an obviously workaholic Santa who was hanging out in Easter Valley and willing to pitch in since he’s already wrapped up his Christmas duties.
Santa’s an old hand in the worldwide present distribution biz and sagely tells Stuffy that in his first year he should just beta test his egg and present gimmick on a single town and then roll out globally the next year. (Is it any wonder that Santa is so dominant in his sector year after year that the Great Pumpkin, Tom Turkey, Cupid, leprechauns and Uncle Sam don’t even bother trying to compete?)
But the chill wind of evil is blowing its way into the perpetual spring of Easter Valley! The diabolical winter wizard Zero and his snowball sidekick Bruce (I only wish I made that up!) are scheming to bring snow and cold to Easter Valley by stealing the golden Easter Lilly that keeps the weather there from being sucky like it is for the rest of us during winter!
If The First Easter Rabbit was a wrestling promotion instead of cartoon, I would think that Santa Clause was booking the show to keep himself on top at the expense at the young up and comer Stuffy. Everything that happens is designed to make the Easter Bunny look weak while Santa saves the day multiple times! First he rescues Stuffy from his snowed in house. Then back at the North Pole after Bruce’s guilty conscience compels him to rat out Zero’s plan to Santa, Santa confronts Zero and threatens to move to the South Pole unless Zero gives the flower back and returns Easter Valley to normal! (But this show is about how awesome the Easter Bunny is, right?)
And like any other insecure wrestler with power behind the scenes, Santa pretends to let Stuffy have his moment at the end of the movie that actually does even more damage to Stuffy with the audience. After all of Santa’s heroics, Stuffy ends the program back in town dancing with Glinda and singing Irving Berlin’s “Easter Parade”! Folks, that’s what we in pro wrestling circles call a squash match.
Like anyone else who’s been discarded by those we thought loved them and left in a freaking burn pile, I was rooting for Stuffy, but then that overbearing Kris Kringle rolled into the program, turning our Easter Bunny into just another Easter Jabroni! But save those magic tears Stuffy, we still love you (and especially chocolate rabbits) anyway!
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