Transgender Professor: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer ‘Queerest’ Holiday Special

Let the reindeer games begin! RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER, the longest-running holiday special in television history on the CBS Television Network. Since 1964, millions of families have tuned in to watch Rudolph and his friends, Hermey the Elf, Yukon Cornelius, and the Misfit Toys, save Christmas. This classic "Animagic" special …

A biological male transgender English professor derides “conservatives” for missing that the 1964 Christmas special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is all about “queer” people.

Jennifer Finney Boylan, a New York Times opinion writer who teaches at Barnard College, wrote Wednesday:

I’m sure that conservatives who love this old holiday chestnut will be infuriated by this suggestion. But if you watch the show without understanding that its central conflict is the way people who are different are constantly shunned and humiliated — well, I don’t know what show you’re watching. It’s not Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, I can tell you that, a show in which, at the climax, “even Santa realizes that maybe he was wrong.”

As an aside, Boylan mocks conservatives further with the observation they are totally unaware that any Christmas special or song that mentions helping the poor is a plug for socialism and a purposeful insult to capitalism.

“What do they suppose is meant in Good King Wenceslas by the line, ‘Ye who now shall bless the poor shall yourselves find blessing’”? Boylan asks, and then mocks, “But please. Do enjoy your $60 Keep America Great hat tree ornament finished in 24-karat gold.”

Boylan insists it is crystal clear the Rudolph Christmas movie is so “queer,” with many LGBTQ themes running through it, that the show could actually be “any episode of Queer Eye or Steven Universe or The L Word.”

Proof of this, the writer says, is that the Glee Christmas special once featured the Rudolph theme song, “The Most Wonderful Day of the Year.”

Getting down to the nitty-gritty, Boylan writes about the “queer code in Christmastown,” particularly when Rudolph’s father, Donner, is embarrassed about his son’s red nose and comes up with a fake one for him to wear.

“You know: so as not to offend The Straights,” Boylan interprets the “queer code” for conservatives.

The writer reflects on the personal meaning of the Rudolph dialogue:

Maybe it goes without saying that this is exactly how I felt, putting on a coat and tie to go to my right-wing, all-boys high school, before coming out as trans years later. Is it worth adding that the character of the misfit male reindeer Rudolph in the special was voiced by Billie Mae Richards, a 40-something woman?

Boylan says more proof of the “queerness” of Rudolph is that it is revealed in the movie that Yukon Cornelius was not actually looking for silver or gold, but a peppermint mine.

The situation facing Hermey the elf, who wants to be a dentist but is chastised by his boss because he is not happy making toys, strikes another personal chord with Boylan:

Sometimes I dream of seeing an elderly, grown-up Hermey making one of those “It Gets Better” videos, sending a message back to a younger generation of closeted elves that with luck, things can turn out all right, if only you can gain agency over your own life.

As for me, I was able in time to do just that. As of this Christmas, I’ve spent more than a third of my life as a happily out member of the L.G.B.T. community.

“The holidays can be hard for everyone — but they can be especially hard for queer people sundered from their families,” Boylan says. “So many Charlies, stuck inside their boxes. So many Spotted Elephants.”


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