You May See It As Problematic, But Rudolph Changed My Life

You May See It As Problematic, But Rudolph Changed My Life

Don't take away the most impactful story from my childhood just because you don't like what it says.

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Growing up, my absolute favorite Christmas tale and song was "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." I collected stuffed animals of Rudolph, got the Build-a-Bear, had a collection of the ornaments, and incessantly watched the VCR tape over and over until I'm sure my parents were completely done with it. So when I was scrolling through social media at the beginning of December, trying to get myself in the Christmas spirit, I was completely stunned by the fact that there was a social media campaign to keep radio stations from playing the song and CBS from airing the Christmas classic.

Apparently, people want to cancel this part of the Christmas tradition because of the messages they interpret within the tale, from a sexist characterization of Clarice to the bullying of Rudolph by the other reindeer to Blitzen trying to cover up Rudolph's shiny nose because it was different. As a kid, I never considered any of these readings when I was watching the movie, and as an adult today (and a communication and media major) I still don't see a lot of credibility in some of these arguments. But if I've learned anything as a Comm major, everyone is going to read a media text in his or her own way.

But as a kid, when I saw Rudolph, I saw someone who was different overcome the criticism that he got for being different. I saw a young reindeer who no one thought was good enough being given an opportunity to lead and be great, to be a hero. I saw an elf who didn't want to play by the rules and make toys just because it was the "normal" thing to do dare to be different and follow his dream of being a dentist. I saw an outcast snow-monster, cast out from society and misunderstood, be welcomed into a community to celebrate Christmas. I saw parents learn to accept their son for what he was, despite his physical oddities. I saw an island full of misfit toys learn to embrace their oddities, learn that they weren't made wrong, just made to be themselves. From Rudolph, I learned that I could be anything, overcome any difference, and follow my dreams.

And sure, not everyone is going to read this song this way. The claymation is dated, the song is old, and even some of the animated movies are well over a decade old. Some messages change with time. Some things are read differently over time. But you don't have the right assume that kids are going to read a story negatively just because you do as an adult. I can't guarantee they'll read it positively either. But we have to have faith in our kids that they can make a meaning from a text that will be impactful for them.

They are the ones that get to find themselves in the story. Sure, there is some bullying in the story. The other reindeer wouldn't let him play in their reindeer games after all. But exclusion is, unfortunately, a real problem that children will face in life. Shielding it from them in a claymation reindeer cartoon isn't going to keep it from happening to them in the real world. But giving a kid a chance to see themselves in Rudolph, to see themselves overcome exclusion and make new friends, could make all the difference.

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To High School Seniors In Their Last Semester

Senior year moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
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Dammit, you made it. The final semester of your senior year. You’re at the top of the food chain of high school, and it feels so good. You’re probably praying this last semester flies by, that you get out of town as soon as possible.

At this point, you’re calling teachers by their first names, the entire staff knows you by name, and you’re walking around school standing tall, owning those hallways. You’re convinced you’re ready to leave and move on to the next chapter in your life.

You’ve already experienced your last football game, standing in the cold in the front row of the student section all season long, decked out in your school colors and cheering loud and proud. That is, until they lost, and you realized you will never have that experience again. Never again.

SEE ALSO: What I Wish I Knew As A Second-Semester High School Senior

You already had your last winter break. Preparing and celebrating the holidays with your family, ice skating and sledding with your best friends. Those quiet nights alone in your room watching Netflix, taking for granted your loved ones just a few rooms away. Never again.

If you’re an athlete, you may have already played in your last game or ran your last race. The crowd cheering, proudly wearing your school’s name across your chest, giving it your all. For some, it may be the end of your athletic career. Before you knew it, you were standing in an empty gym, staring up at the banners and thinking about the mark you left on your school, wondering where on earth the time went. Never again.

I’m telling you right now, you’re going to miss it all. Everything you’ve ever known. Those early mornings when you debate going to first hour because you really need those McDonald’s hash browns. The late nights driving home from practice, stopping for ice cream of course, ready for a late night of homework. Getting food on a whim with your friends. Endless fights with your siblings. Your favorite chips in the pantry. A fridge full of food. Coming home to and getting tackled by your dog. Driving around your hometown, passing the same sights you’ve seen every day for as long as you can remember. Hugs from your mom after a long day. Laughs with your dad. And that best friend of yours? You’re going to miss them more than anything. I’m telling you right now, nothing will ever be the same. Never again.

SEE ALSO: I'm The Girl That Enjoyed High School

Before you start packing your bags, slow down, take a deep breath, and look around. You’ve got it pretty good here. The end of your senior year can be the time of your life; it’s truly amazing. So go to the winter dance, go to Prom, spend Senior Skip Day with your classmates, go to every sporting event you can, while you still can. College is pretty great, but it’s the little things you’re gonna miss the most. Don’t take it for granted because soon, you’ll be standing in a packed gym in your cap and gown, wondering where the heck the time went. You’ve got a long, beautiful life ahead of you, full of joy but also full of challenges. You’re going to meet so many wonderful people, people who will treat you right and people who won’t.


So, take it all in. Be excited for the future and look forward to it, but be mindful of the present. You’ve got this.
Cover Image Credit: Hartford Courant

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The Importance Of Passion

Without it, you'll never get where you want to be.

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I've been told time and time again that I'm "pigeonholing" myself.

I've been told what I want to do with my life makes no sense.

I've been told that my desired career field is small, and therefore unrealistic.

I've been told not to set such a specific goal for myself, and that having my heart set on something makes me narrow-minded.

I've been told that keeping my goal in mind is just closing myself off and that it's therefore obsessive.

Although it's important to keep an open mind, it's also important to keep in mind what makes you happy. You'll go nowhere if you aren't passionate about what you're doing. If your heart isn't there, you won't be fully present. Passion is the fuel to your fire; it drives us to better ourselves each and every day. It makes us more determined, and more willing to rise to challenges. Passion can take you extremely far, and help you bring something entirely new to the table.

In my opinion, passion is one of the most vital character traits one can have. Passion is what sets you apart from others. It's clear when you're discussing something you're really into, and it's often commendable. It gets people invested in your conversation and really helps drive home the point you're trying to get across. It's something people will remember when you walk away.

As a college student, I am well aware of the fact that I need to keep an open mind. And I am keeping my mind very open. There's a difference between closing oneself off and having a goal to work towards, although many seem to believe there is a very thin line (if any line at all) between the two. There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting a goal for yourself. Having a "grand plan" is a great way to keep yourself motivated. I know that I need to take what I'm given, and that's what I plan to do... but I see anything I do prior to reaching my goal as a step to really get there.

I'll leave you with a quote... anyone who knows me will not be surprised that the quote that immediately comes to mind is from my all-time favorite musical, A Chorus Line. As stated in the show by Cassie, "I want to do what I love as much as I can and as long as I can. But at least, now - I'm doing it for me. Who are you doing it for?"

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