Santa: Wintry but Fair Weather Friend
Happy Holidays, Straight Guy,
Your post about “Rudolph” hit it right on the (red) nose. The film is about tolerating difference. The North Pole’s denizens learn to tolerate that Rudolph is different, and more importantly Rudolph learns to tolerate his own frozen-fish-out-of-water feelings. When I was growing up, watching Rudolph and other TV Christmas specials was an event. We anticipated the fulfillment of the prophecy of its coming with a religious zeal appropriate for the season.
Waiting for Rudolph filled me with anticipation… and dread. I remember the basics of the film’s plot, but what I remember most was how icky inside it made me feel. Rudolph’s difference and how keenly he and all of the other reindeer felt it was splayed naked on the TV screen. I wanted to make myself invisible during the scenes of Rudolph’s humiliation at the hooves of those nasty little boy deer, the ones who used to laugh and call him names. It was painful to watch. Couldn’t they just leave Rudolph alone?
Let me tell you, Santa does not come out of this story looking good, either. In fact, I think he’s the worst offender --he’s the head human in the story after all. He tolerates, even celebrates, Rudolph’s otherness only after he’s figured out a way to milk it for personal and professional gain. That’s when Rudolph becomes the most popular of the reindeer. So my disappointment in learning the inevitable about Santa had already been softened by figuring out that he was kind of a bigot. [Here's CampJinx with the proof.]
Why does all this still matter? Rudolph was different, and I’ve never met another gay man who didn’t grow up with some unlabeled free floating feeling of being different. Different like Rudolph. Just switch out the nose. Maybe that’s why some of us wait to cozy up and watch Rudolph, and some of us can’t change the channel fast enough.
Give me the Grinch any day.
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