This morning, as I was trawling the web for fresh content to aggregate on this slow news day, I learned from a CNN article that 1) there are six new balloons joining Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and 2) one of them is a reindeer named Tiptoe.
I’m sure your reaction to this is much like mine: There’s a new reindeer? Um, I thought it was established lore that Santa has a crew of eight pulling his sleigh — nine, if you include Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, of the 1939 coloring booklet Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and subsequent adaptations? Are we just adding reindeer to the canon willy-nilly whenever we want now? Won’t that throw off the sleigh-pulling balance? What’s so wrong with the existing reindeer that they can’t be featured in the parade instead?
Well, the answer to that last question is simple: The existing reindeer weren’t created by Macy’s, as Tiptoe was. The department store unveiled its new IP earlier in November in a holiday campaign video. In this origin story, Tiptoe is introduced as a “cute” (debatable) little reindeer who lives in the North Pole with her friends Polar Bear and Penguin (the entire scientific community knows that penguins aren’t found in the Arctic, so way to spread misinformation). Tiptoe is too shy to fly, so her friends solicit help from some Keebler-ass-looking elves, who invent a mechanically impossible “flying machine” for Tiptoe to strap on. She successfully takes Santa for a ride (even though historically Santa’s sleigh has needed a whole crew to get up in the air), her balloon wings pop, she almost crashes, it turns out “she just had to Believe” to fly, yadda yadda yadda. Typical advertorial fluff, expertly crafted to anchor Macy’s holiday sales.
Rationally, I know it’s not Tiptoe’s fault that she is a child of commercialism. After all, Rudolph — who I assume Macy’s did not use because the store didn’t want to shell out the money to license the character — was also born of in the bosom of big retail, and look how far he has come now.
But on an irrational level, I detest Tiptoe and her treacly-sweet creation myth. I don’t like her blue fur that makes her look like she has hypothermia. I despise how the plushie version Macy’s made of her (seen here near the end of the video) is smooth like some uncanny valley CGI abomination instead of furry and fuzzy like an actual reindeer would be. I abhor how, when I dared to go against the grain vis-à-vis Tiptoe in my workplace Slack, my coworkers cyberbullied me so viciously that, in a moment of trauma-induced acquiescence, I said that I would write this blog post. But most of all, I hate that I see myself in Tiptoe, and that where I have cratered under the weight of self-loathing and insecurities, she has learned to soar. Save some belief for the rest of us.
Editor’s note: Jenny has been fired for her position on Tiptoe. Please pay your respects to her last post.