Thursday, December 19, 2013

HAVE YOURSELF A DERPY LITTLE CHRISTMAS:  TNR's Michael Schaffer, on "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer":
There’s this little reindeer with a deformity. We have no evidence that this deformity actually keeps him from his reindeer duties: He has a red, glowing nose. Big deal! It’s not like he has a torn ACL that might limit his flying-sleigh-pulling abilities. At any rate, because of this deformity, the other reindeer laugh, call him names, and bar him from their all-important games, effectively ostracizing him just because he looks funny.... Despite the repeated snubs and the impolite request, Rudolph demonstrates his utility in brilliant form. At which point all the reindeer decide that they love him. Notice that they still don’t apologize. 
Perhaps I am wrong, but this strikes me as a terrible, terrible lesson for kids. At the very basic level, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” 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. 

1 comment:

  1. D'Arcy10:36 PM

    I teach at an elementary school (which is JK - gr 8 here). A grade 3 teacher sang a version of Rudolph at our holiday assembly with an added verse at the end. Rudolph basically says, "Yo, dudes, what the hell? You all laugh at me till Santa says I'm cool, then you want to be my friend? That's not showing integrity." I wish I could remember the exact words, but that's the basic idea. It addresses what you said - they all decide they love him once he can do something for them, but they never actually apologize for being dicks in the first place.