I killed Rudolph

Yesterday as I was meeting with some students from my first-year writing and rhetoric class (which focused on analyzing narratives), they were joking about how their newfound rhetorical awareness had been messing with their minds. (And yes, I know that some of this was no doubt revealed with their yet-to-be-posted grades in mind.) One comment in particular gave me a warm holiday glow. To paraphrase:

“You ruined Rudolph for me. Here’s this guy who’s different from the rest, and marked physically by that difference — so he’s ostracized by the crowd, disrespected and disregarded… until, that is, he can help out some rich white authority figure. And then suddenly he’s embraced and accepted, just because he can contribute to their power. That’s some b.s.”

Rebel Rudolph (by shiny red type, Flickr)

Rebel Rudolph (by shiny red type, Flickr)

Hell yeah, it is! Don’t get me wrong — I love Christmas specials. And Christmas songs. I’m a sucker for sparkly lights, eggnog-induced cheer, and the Island of Misfit Toys. But sorry, Santa — I’m an even bigger fan of critical college students.

Side note: Did you know “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was actually created as a marketing ploy by a department store? Yet, as Snopes.com points out, the original was rather less problematic in certain ways: Rudolph was not a resident of the North Pole, just an average reindeer with loving and supportive parents. He was well-adjusted and confident long before Santa stumbled upon him in a moment of need. Fascinating revision from there to the current version, right?!

Rudolph and his lady friend (by voteprime, Flickr)

Rudolph and his lady friend (by voteprime, Flickr)

“Growing Up Online”

And we’re back to my love of PBS, Frontline this time, with a special about technology’s effect on teenagers. Especially interesting is chapter two, “A Revolution in Classrooms and Social Life.” I have to admit to being a little miffed at “everybody uses Sparknotes” or “nobody reads books” concepts as a technologically advanced young person who does indeed do her own reading. (Though, I will admit to being overly excited at such available online books services such as DailyLit.com, which sends a user multiple easily consumptive sections of books for free by email or RSS feed if they’re in the public domain and for a minimal fee if they’re a contemporary work.) Sure, it’s been a few years since I’ve been in high school (thank god), but it’s extremely disconcerting to me to think that the advance of technology has left someone in English studies thinking that they don’t have a place anymore. I mean, did mathematicians freak out at the advent of the calculator? I think not. They used that tool to their benefit (even those in love with the abacus), as other technologies can be used to benefit other areas as well.

It is ironic that I watched this online though, no?

Ze link…