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Friday, December 15, 2017

OK, RudoIph. FuII power!

Fuck you, Santa!

A few popular memes have captured the dubious moral of Rudolph’s story. One has Santa beseeching Rudolph to guide his sleigh through the fog, only to get mercilessly shut down: “I’m sorry Santa, but I feel uncomfortable giving you help after the verbal abuse and discrimination I suffered during my formative years,” the reindeer says. “It has taken me a long time to realize that my self-worth does not stem from my usefulness to you. I do not owe you anything.” Another imagepairs a still from the 1964 Rankin/Bass stop-motion TV special—the most famous depiction of Rudolph’s plight—with a concise distillation of North Pole capitalist philosophy: “Deviation from the norm will be punished unless it is exploitable.”

For generations, ever since the story was written as a poem in 1939 and popularized as a song a decade later, Rudolph’s lesson was interpreted more simply: Don’t make fun of people who are different, because everyone has something to offer. But around the time that the internet became the place for people to revisit problematic themes of old artworks, and for parents to fret about how they were raising their kids, Santa and his crew came in for a long-overdue reckoning. Rudolph “doesn't want to teach you kindness or charity, or any of that crap; it only wants to teach you spite and how to commit hate crimes,” claimed a blogger in 2010. Parenting groups on Facebook have hosted debates about whether it’s better to watch the TV special with kids and discuss what’s messed up about it, or keep it away from them altogether. In 2013, Michael Schaffer argued in the New Republic that the story “presents a fairly grim, Hobbesian vision of society: If you want to be accepted, you have to prove your economic utility—which, in the case of magical flying reindeer, appears to only involve the annual sleigh-pull.”

Okay, yeah, Santa and his minions were dicks to the most famous reindeer of all (which always made me wonder why they ask if we've heard of the anti-establishment scamp, but I digress).  Yet I take issue with the charge that everybody accepted Rudy only when he demonstrated his value to the organization.

Recall that he and the Dental Fetish Elf came home, everybody apologized, accepted their differences, worked them into the new social order, and then...Rudolph became a hero when need presented.  Let's not rewrite Xmas history here, folks.

Christ, I'm sick of Slate Pitches.


December 15, 2017 in And Fuck... | Permalink


The scribbling class has way too much time on their hands. If that Angela Davis tweet is authentic she really has declined, it's not the worst metaphor I've seen but it's in the lower percentiles.

Rudolph was invented as part of a department store advertising campaign. The internet tells me by one Robert May - his brother in law Johnny Marks wrote the song. May's motive seems to have been mostly to come up with something that would support his family, including his dying first wife, don't know anything about the writing of the song. The most entertaining thing about it was the hopeful dentist elf in the TV show.

Posted by: Anthony McCarthy | Dec 16, 2017 7:43:54 AM

Ha! What about Frosty?! Some magic in that "old top hat"? A symbol of power and wealth is a source of life!!??!! HUH???!!!!???? CLASSISM! ELITISM!!!!!! Not to mention Patriarchism! Do women wear top hats? Only as cross dressers, and that weaken our male bodily essences! It's a conspiracy, I tells ya!

Posted by: Rmj | Dec 17, 2017 7:34:01 PM

I will stipulate that no man ever wore a Tux as well as Marlene Dietrich. Or a sailor's suit. Though Buddy Rogers came in a good second in the movies.

Posted by: Anthony McCarthy | Dec 18, 2017 3:36:07 AM

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