Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Rankin Bass Bigotry


So I guess I forgot that today was December the "somethingth" and almost freaked out when I saw that "A Christmas Story" was on television (not yet in its 24 hour marathon form) as well as that good ol' harbinger of the holidays "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer."
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I had a very hard time deciding which of these two classics would be elected to distract me from my Yuletide domestic errands around the house. The timeless-because-its-intentionally-dated "Christmas Story" or the dated-because-it's-dated "Rudolph?"
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I figured that I would have a better chance of actually getting a Red Ryder BB Gun than missing an opportunity to see Ralphie, the Bumpus dogs and Scott Farkis sometime in the near future, so I instead stayed transfixed on the felt wonderland that is Rudolph.
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I can still remember the night that this special would always come on. It would be the exact day that we were rummaging through our waxed boxes of ornaments. For me tonight, seeing Rudolph again was more about the phantom smells and sounds around my subconscious 7 year old self than it was the spectacle of seeing stop-motion animation. Immediately I could imagine mom making dinner in the kitchen and the aroma of Christmas candles giving up their sweet stale aroma after their year long nap in the attic.

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But this trip down memory lane was a regressive therapy session in yet another way. I soon remembered how much I secretly despised this show and how it somehow shaped the world view that I currently hold. Before we all get off on our soap boxes, I will state that I honestly do love this television special for the message of acceptance that it ultimately gives....at the end....after scaring the bejeezes out of me.
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I'm not sure where I first noticed it. It could have been when Hermey the Misfit elf was practically ostrasized for being "different" (cue Bronski Beat's "Smalltown Boy") or it could have been the way Rudolph was treated while playing reindeer games. From the get-go I always cringed at the way these creatures were treated. Partly because I guess I always knew that I was "different" too and that I would someday have to put up with stupid bullies the way that these two did.
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Was I going to find solace by knowing that there was a near-Siberian island full of people just like me? Hell no! Even I would have no business cavorting around with a train with square wheels dammit! No, I sort of understood all of the reindeers and elves giving Hermey and Rudolph the cold shoulder because, heck, that is just the environment in which they were raised.
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It was the scene in which Santa himself comes by and tells Donner (how gets selected as Rudolph's father, I'll never know) that he is ashamed of Rudolph's deformity and goes as far as giving Rudolph a tongue lashing himself. Is this the leadership that they need up at the North pole? Of course Santa eats a little crow at the end of the film but mostly because poor indentured Rudolph bails his ass out during the snow storm to help save Christmas. If it weren't for freaks like Rudolph, Hermey and Bumble, I am not sure that could sit here in my house and stay transfixed on the screen wondering how those felt eyelids actually would feel if I pressed my fingers against them.
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8 comments:

Kelis said...

I am right there with you. I was sitting to the north at 7 years old experiencing the same feelings...and knowing that I myself would always be a "Clarice" in the life of those around me. I have become obsessed with the puppets from these specials--they were all trashed execpt a few mangled survivors.

http://timespacetoys.stores.yahoo.net/moreph.html

Don't even get me started on how much I love the Miser Bros.

Beta Mike said...

I too love the Misers! Thanks for your perspective and ability to relate to this as well Kelis. That link is pretty cool...I bet the guy who opened those boxes and found the puppets was a little freaked out!

crit said...

i especially loved Heat Miser, bet you'll never guess why!

great post, beta!

Beta Mike said...

Thanks Crit! Did it have something to do with a heat rash? :)

crit said...

noooo. try again. here's a clue... my favorite singer.

Beta Mike said...

Elliott Smith?

christy said...

yeeeaahh! his original band was Heatmiser.

point for you. :)


(btw, my word verification was "pusisci". kinda dirty if you ask me!)

Beta Mike said...

"pusisci willows, Dottie!" I love an obscure John Waters reference.

My word verification is "uresi" Not a lot special about that one.