Viewing the 1964 cartoon through a queer lens.
As a little boy, I loved the classic Christmas cartoon, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer. I must’ve watched it every Christmas as a child, then as a teenager, and almost every year since. Rudolph was my first queer role model and boy was he ever fierce!
Rudolph showed a strength of character at a young age. He was unafraid to venture into the unknown and make friends with outcasts and misfits just like him.
Recently, the classic cartoon has come under fire as being problematic.
What nonsense! It's important to not jump to conclusions simply because one aspect of something larger appears problematic. We need to consider the entire message of the 1964 production within a larger societal and historical framework. We need to deconstruct Rudolph through a queer lens.
The "outrage" is an example of people jumping to conclusions without taking the time for critical thought.
The cartoon came out in 1964 and represents a solid document for the morals of the time. However, I believe there's a powerful message at work in the cartoon, one that promotes acceptance. This message is what people are missing when they only look at a single aspect of the cartoon – the masculine dominance and bullying presented by Santa and Donner, which was nothing short of "normal" in 1964.
The world model presented in the cartoon is not the ideal model for a progressive, fully accepting society. If people believe that Rudolph should not be aired, then by the same logic every Hollywood movie from before the 1950s should be banned for sexism and racism.
Listen to the complete episode to find out why Rudolph is an important role model for queers, and why it was such an inspiration in coming to terms with my sexuality.
Here’s the post published last year on Th-Ink Queerly: Why Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer Was My First Queer Hero.
Living OUT theme music: “Summer” by Bensound.com ~ Image source.