Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Rudolf and Why I Kind of Hate That Song

Admittedly, I think I make one of these, “Lonely Jew on Christmas” posts every year.

…But seriously, I don’t like Rudolf.


It’s one of those songs where I question if anyone really listens to the lyrics.  If they do and still think it’s happy-go-lucky, maybe they are sociopaths. 
“No no…  After he proved himself useful, THEN all the other reindeer LOVED him!!”  That’s not a good lesson.  It’s just not.

Pinocchio’s nose deforms as a punishment and tell for lying, but in the narratives of Rudolf and Dumbo the lesson is vastly more sinister.  

You are allowed to be different… We will ALLOW you your natural difference, IF you can prove yourself useful, or at least more spectacular because of your difference. 

You can’t just be different.  It needs to be a super power. 
There is a difference between “Look how neat this difference is!” and actually making that a requirement.  

In fact, other language versions such as the Japanese version are even more blatant and honest about it.   

It’s like Santa did Rudolf a favor by letting him guide the sleigh so that he could earn respect.  

A story is just that… but this is something that’s blasted on loud speakers year after year to little kids.

What are these characters supposed to do? 
Cut off the offensive parts?


(Ugh… flashback to childhood with the explanation that a nose job, even if you didn’t medically need one, was a rite of passage for a young Jewish woman.  UGH. )

And poor Dumbo is practically tortured in that movie.
Of course, there are other problems with Dumbo that I won’t get into here…


In any case, I don’t like the lesson that we can’t just be functioning like everyone else in spite of these unique things, nor can we be praised for getting to that baseline regardless of struggles.  No no. 
We only get to love ourselves if we are super special.  We have to be EVEN BETTER than everyone else, so that the very assholes who mocked us and kept us ostracized will accept us. 
Really, who’d even want that?  Who would want to play in those reindeer games at that point, with mean people?

Sometimes, it comes down to safety.  Once a marginalized group becomes “accepted” into the bullies (which generally just means assimilated and stripped of their own heritage) then at least we are safe from those bullies. 
…because they won?

This happens every day to anyone who can be classified as a minority in this county. 
Hell, this happens to women, and we certainly are NOT a minority. 

Rudolf was the better party for saying yes to helping, but then he should just leave. 

What if they’d asked him to do something really degrading? 
Would Rudolf have been desperate enough for acceptance and for the abuse to stop to still do it? 
What if Santa had asked him to be an ornament?


I’m just saying, if they wanted him to be a night light, they should have been kinder.  Or at least have ONE be like, “Hey, let him play.”  Anything. 
(Random thought:  Did Dumbo’s ability to fly bring his mother back?  That movie is so depressing.)


As a side note…  I feel like reindeer should have wings if they are specifically the flying-type.  


The Superman logic is silly. 

…But yeah.  Seriously.  Rudolf should have converted. 


(I could make a nose-joke here…  I’m gonna try to contain myself.)

This idea is why I’ve come to love things like the Addams Family and Monster High, because that is media that says different is beautiful.  No strings attached. 

THAT should be a classic narrative.  Not Rudolf.