Gerry Bartholomew writes:
Dear Tyler, is it just me or was Santa kind of a shit to Rudolph?
Gerry: it’s not just you. Santa has much to answer for. Did he go to little Rudy’s parents to reassure them that their glowing son was nothing to be ashamed of, not the product of some sin or unnatural act of theirs, but simply the unsurprising result of Arctic nuclear tests in the 1950s? Did Santa step in when the other reindeer taunted and excluded him, saying be kind, little ungulates, we must value difference? No, if the TV special is to be believed, Santa actually participated in the shaming (or, if you go by the song, was conspicuously absent) until he happened to need Rudolph.
I think Rudolph would’ve been justified at that point to say, “Oh, so you like me now, do you? Where’ve you been the last three years? You want me to work for you? What’s in it for me? Why don’t you use your own shiny red alcoholic nose to light the way, fatso?” Unsurprisingly, though, since Rudolph was young and his self-esteem had been much battered, he eagerly lapped up the attention.
The whole thing raises serious questions about Santa’s character. What about the other deformed reindeer we never hear about, those who couldn’t substitute for small-aircraft navigational lights? They’re probably venison by now. Three haunches off of one animal.
Or some poor kid who has spina bifida. What’s Santa going to say? “Sorry kid, it’s not that you’re not nice, I just haven’t found a use for you yet.” Do we trust this guy to determine what “nice” is? Was Susan B. Anthony nice? Was Nelson Mandela? Who would bring XBoxes to rich white kids in America, and fuck-all to some poor boy in Namibia who could really use just one decent meal for a change?
For that matter, what about Rudolph after his famous night? While a nose might serve in a pinch to light one’s way, it’s hardly got the wattage of a good battery-powered spotlight. This can’t have been Santa’s first foggy Christmas; he must’ve had a way to deal with bad flying conditions before the invention of bioluminescent reindeer. But you know how it is, you stick the light set in a closet, don’t use it for a couple of years, then when you haul it out, boom, it’s not working, the nearest hardware store is in Nome, and they’re already closed. This was before the day when every store would remain open until 11:55 PM on Christmas Eve in hopes of adding a tiny increment to the bottom line. The next year, you can be sure Santa was prepared with spare bulbs and maybe a spare light kit. Lesson learned. Mutant reindeer, ha! We’ve got technology, baby!