Reading Past Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Because some pieces warrant a repost:

 

One holiday classic I’ve always found so unsettling is Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.

I attended Catholic school between the third and the fifth grade and with the exception of two Asian students, I was the only POC in our entire class. Let’s just say at 8 years old I received a crash course in racism and we’re going to leave it at that.

Each year we would watch the animated classic of Rudolph. There was always something disturbing about the story, until last year when I came to the epiphany that the tale is a metaphor for minority plight.

You see Rudolph represents the Other (insert minority of your choice). An individual who was born different from those in power. And rather than being respected as a peer, he was ridiculed, denigrated and kicked off the North Pole.

Where Santa was and why he didn’t “reign” the bigots in is beyond me?

I could also use the time to discuss that my affinity for Rudolph’s BFF Hermey should’ve been my first clue that I drove stick (perfect hair, different, a misfit, elf, oral fixation, cute blond), but that’s another discussion for another time.

We all know the story about the foggy Christmas Eve, Santa asked Rudolph to lead his sleigh and save Christmas with his bright red nose, Rudolph does so and he finally wins “love” from the other reindeers who accept him for the same thing he was discriminated against in the first place.

Two things come to mind for me.

Personally I would’ve told Santa which part of my red-nosed anatomy he and the others could kiss. And despite all of the hatred and humiliation, he would’ve been well within his rights to do so. I’ve discussed this before with others and in response I was told “he would need to get over it,” “stop being so sensitive.” Not unlike what was told to me and other blacks during the Prop 8 Fallout when the LGBTs were ready to continue throwing away valuable resources towards making gay marriage the END-ALL-BE-ALL issue and expecting blacks to fetch & step for them.

I think that’s part of the problem. Bigots and the privileged majority has gotten accustomed to marginalized people “rising above” and getting over it. Maybe Christmas should be canceled and kids are disappointed. At least that way people will learn that there are consequences to bigotry.

The other thing that comes to mind for me is I can’t help but wonder did the other reindeers accept Rudolph because they realized they were wrong or because they realized he could be of use to them? Because if that isn’t the minority metaphor, I don’t know what is.

You see when you’re the other, you get treated as a pariah until you prove yourself as an asset worthy of some modicum of respectability. You’re an icky colored unless you’re exceptional in sports, can dance and rap and sing, or your culture is features martial arts, anime and ninja. You’re a dirty perverted fag unless you offer excellent tips in being fabulous, do make-up, hair and can provide keen insight into fashion and style. Or if you’re willing to be the asexual girlfriend and confidant of your heterosexual female friend.

Or better yet, when you’re the Other, maybe you’ll get to be president if we’re desperate enough to sit our racism aside and as long as you meet all unreasonable expectations and play Santa Claus and be all things to all people within less than a year.

From Rudolph’s plight we learned that when you’re the Other, you’re treated as inferior only until you prove yourselves as actually being superior and an invaluable asset, then and only then, if you’re lucky will you get treated as an equal……maybe.

Funny the things we learn from cartoons.

10 thoughts on “Reading Past Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

  1. I’m glad i’m not the only one who was bothered by that story. it’s amazing what twisted morals make up many “classic” children’s tales. And rather than seeing it for what it is and putting a stop to them, adults choose to wear nostalgia-lenses and pass it along “because tradition”. And then they wonder why marginalized people don’t like their asses when they grow up.

  2. Personally I would’ve told Santa which part of my red-nosed anatomy he and the others could kiss. And despite all of the hatred and humiliation, he would’ve been well within his rights to do so.

    Boo…boo-boo…you know I love you, right?

    The other thing that comes to mind for me is I can’t help but wonder did the other reindeers accept Rudolph because they realized they were wrong or because they realized he could be of use to them? Because if that isn’t the minority metaphor, I don’t know what is.

    Preach.

  3. >Not unlike what was told to me and other blacks during the Prop 8 Fallout when the LGBTs were ready to continue throwing away valuable resources towards making gay marriage the END-ALL-BE-ALL issue and expecting blacks to fetch & step for them.

    Um, WOW. Seriously?

    How about we flip that around to spotlight all the Black and Latino folks who supported the ability to vote away the rights of their gay neighbors? “Step and fetch,” Neo Prodigy? How about “recognize the irony of voting to take away the rights of a fellow minority” instead?

    I was totally behind this blog post until I hit that line. Now I am almost literally seeing Rudolf-nose-level red.

    Back when Prop Ha8 was up for a vote, I saw numerous videos of Black folks – very ANGRY Black folks – waving pro-8 signs and haranguing passers-by with anti-gay vitriol. One video even concluded with the mob of angry Black folks screaming obscenities at the person filming them, and trying to rip the camera out of his(?) hands… said “obscenities” including “Faggot.” The irony of that video infuriates me even now… and seeing some blogger equate NOT doing that shit with “stepping and fetching,” as if it was Neo-Prodigy’s rights that were taken away by Ha8 and not the other way around, infuriates me now.

    This sort of shit is why we have to fight to have nice things… sometimes even fighting one another when we should all – regardless of ethnicity or gender – be on the same fucking page.

    • Oh did someone pick the wrong day to test me.

      So let’s take a moment to discuss why you’re absolutely wrong.

      1) You posed your comment as if being black and Latino and being gay are mutually exclusive. Newsflash: IT’S NOT!!!! Not all LGBTQs are white and typically it’s the non-white ones who are in trenches doing all the heavy lifting only to see our contributions and our existence erased from the LGBTQ “community” and “movement.”

      Countless Black and Latino LGBTQs (I know shocker we do exist) stressed for years that making gay marriage as the end all be all issue when it’s not. Countless resources that could’ve gone to DADT, HIV, queer teen homelessness, helping trans folks, etc. were being used for $100,000 galas and paying off C-list celebrity “allies” to push a quite frankly elitist, classist, and frankly racist agenda for the white gay community

      2) Neither Blacks nor Latinos are responsible for Prop 8 passing, contrary to what CNN, Dan Savage and every other white supremacist in the gay community would have you believe. According to the LA Times, the reason Prop 8 passed was many white liberal voters DID NOT VOTE AT ALL. Which I have to say I’m not shocked about. Because when it comes social justice and doing any kind of heavy lifting, most white social justice blowhards are, to quote Jay-Z, “Loud as a motorbike but wouldn’t bust a grape in a fruit fight.”

      3) I also find it highly interesting that while white gays wanna talk about groups voting gay rights away, they wanna blame every group except the one who was actually responsible: WHITE FOLKS. It was the Mormons who helped finance Prop 8, it was the Republican Party who co-signed. But funny how that outrage goes away when it comes to holding white people responsible for their shit. Last I checked, Congress isn’t dominated by blacks, and last I checked the Supreme Court isn’t dominated by Latinos. And last I checked GOP isn’t run by POCs. You wanna know why gay rights aren’t happening, because too many white gay leaders wanna stay in good with straight white folks (the very mofos who are oppressing them) because they don’t want to lose their white privilege.IE: Steppin and Fetchin.

      4) Seeing as you don’t identify as queer or a POC, how do you get to be mad?

      5) The reason why you saw all those videos of blacks being pissed off, was in response to the white gay racists who were raising hung nooses and threatening to murder blacks because they were pissed that Obama got elected but they didn’t get their Cracker Jack prize.I definitely missed the videos you’re referencing because I was too busy getting death threats on my blog and dealing with trolls and other assholes from the gay community. As were my ladies Jasmyne Cannick and Monica Roberts.

      6) The reason why we can’t have nice things because in social justice, the most privileged mofos, white folks, move heaven and earth not to do the right thing or fight for change but to preserve their privileges while doing lip service at best.

      7) Pro-tip: It’s generally best not to whitesplain POC and queer issues to a Queer POC. Because it will not end, for you.

  4. A Norwegian comic got that last part pretty down pat. You see one girl sitting with tears in her eyes over Susan Boyle and going “They all laughed at her, but LOOK AT HOW SHE’S SINGING” and the protagonist basically goes “Right, because it’s only right to laugh at someone for being a fat, middle-aged female if it doesn’t turn out she actually can sing”. Because if you’re discriminated against, the only get-out-of-jail free card is if you can offer something. Said as a lesbian who has heard too many straight men opine that well, lesbians are alright, but not gay men, and we all know why.

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