Arlene is on the SCENE

The Rudolph Backlash

Posted on: December 12, 2011

Okay, I do think George Guiliani has a point.  On a recent news show he spoke out against the “bullying” that occurs during that old Christmas show about Rudolph.  I mean, I remember cringing as a kid watching poor Rudolph get banished from the reindeer games.  I cringed in part because frankly, the scene was familiar.  No, I didn’t get ostracized like that myself, but that crowd mentality–you’re too weird to fit in here–was pretty common, at least where and when I grew up.

So yes, he’s got a point when he highlights that this is mean.  Um, yes, we realize that.

The point of the Rudolph story is that his “difference,” a big ol’ red nose, saves the day.  Huh, appreciating differences–are we still talking to kids about that?  You bet.  Doesn’t seem to have sunken in yet.  Or maybe the net cast around difference has to be further widened.  Because while we all give lip service to accepting difference, it’s a whole other story to really appreciate and embrace them.  In the end, we’re all more comfortable with the familiar.

So I think we can’t re-watch the Rudolph story enough.  You’ve got to acknowledge the wrong before you clear a path to what’s right.  You sanitize your message too much and you’re just not credible.  As a therapist, I do believe we’ve got to get down into that swamp of negativity before we can clean ourselves up.

But I think Guiliani’s other point is more important and less attended to: why does Rudolph have to save Santa, the reindeer, and even Christmas itself before he’s accepted?  As my co-author Marybeth would say, “Where’s the applause when I heave myself outa bed into my wheelchair at 5 am?  Isn’t that inspirational?”

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