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.”
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?!