Friday, December 22, 2006

Tiny Tim and Rudolph, The Christmas Gimps

Two of the most well-known Christmas stories are the classic Charles Dickens' tale, A Christmas Carol, and the more modern story, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. A common theme in these stories is found in the societies' views of the characters Tiny Tim and Rudolph. Each of these two characters has a difference, a physical anomaly; each character is initially seen as pitiful, and, in the end, hailed as special and inspirational.

Many in the disability community have given thought-provoking, satirical and entertaining commentary on these symbolic characters. In Empowering Tiny Tim, Douglas Lathrop debates whether Tiny Tim is a pathetic cripple or really a crafty little con artist. He calls Tiny Tim a "stone cold manipulator". In A Crippled Christmas Carol, Tiny Tim embarks on a journey to Christmas 2005. In Ode to Scrooge, Steve Kuusisto, tells of the history of Charles Dickens’s Victorian England as well as sharing his perspective on the “Scrooges” of today.

Gimpy, The One-Horned Reindeer is an entertaining satire from Ouch! Magazine and Podcast, the irreverent disability magazine by the BBC (Check out their Merry Cripmas, too). In Games People Play, Andrea makes a dead-on analogy between the Rudolph story and the now famous teen with autism who was "allowed" to play basketball. In Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the blogger asks gutsy questions, "What if it turned out that that Rudolph couldn't actually save the day? What if he had just been different but not special?"


Natalia said...

i have read all(?) the links and am now speechless... in the laughing/crying/thinking kind of way.

Warren Shaw said...

Dear David,

I realize that this is a clumsy way of contacting you, but I am not very conversant in blogging and the like.

I am an historian whose work focuses on New York City. Over the past 6-7 years my primary focus has been the New York City disability rights movement--in part because my parents, Mollie and Julius Shaw, were among the New York City movement’s founders, in the 1960s. I am working on putting together the history of the New York City movement.

Among other aspects of this larger project, I am working on an essay about Tiny Tim and the disability rights movement. As you know, there has been a lot of writing on this subject the past 10-15 years, and as part of my essay I am hoping to contact the authors of those pieces, to learn something of what motivated them to write on this subject and to discuss the disability blogosphere, the disability rights movement and disability culture more generally.

I very much enjoyed your post about Tiny Tim and Rudolph. That is why I am writing to you.

I do hope that you might be interested in talking with me. We can do so either by phone or by Skype. I would much prefer a real-time talk to an email exchange, but if you prefer to communicate by email that we can do that too.

To learn more about me and my work, please go to my website, I can be reached by email at or by telephone, at 917-620-8564.

I look forward to hearing from you, and thanks.