OF FAIRY TALES AND NURSERY RHYMES – PART II
September 30, 2010 § 1 Comment
This is Part II of a previous post. If you haven’t read that one yet then you can read it here : OF FAIRY TALES AND NURSERY RHYMES – PART I
I spent the better part of my childhood being fed enchanting fairy tales about beautiful princesses, wooden boys and ugly toads that magically transformed in to Brad Pitt-esque men if you played a bit of tonsil tennis with them.
My mother started this trend even before I began going to school as a means of putting me to bed. Once we entered the education system we were told these stories by pretty young teachers as we sat around in a circle on colorful play mats. Our unadulterated minds accepted these stories with a sense of wonderment and awe because they took us to a magical land far far away.
Disney, the giant capitalist machine that exploits children’s taste for fantasy, dressed up these characters and brought them to beautiful life. Both on screen and on paper and we, like an eager litter of cute puppies around the milk bowl lapped it all up greedily.
But what I fail to understand is how in God’s name did our seemingly responsible parents allow these sordid tales of hate, jealousy and murder to enter our beautiful unmarred minds. But they did. And when I look back I can only shudder at the thought and give thanks to a higher power that I did not end up like Bundy or Dahmer. But then again I know this one kid from my fourth grade who went on to bludgeon his sleeping family to death. I swear I’m not lying. So maybe in some twisted way we all pave the way for our children to become serial killers.
You’ll see why.
Snowhite & The Seven Dwarves : This is the story of a beautiful girl who grows up in a dark, brooding castle in the care of the proverbial ‘wicked’ Queen who, brace yourself, is also her stepmother. If there ever were a shortage of cliches anywhere in the world you could trust Disney to serve up so many in one sentence it would send your head spinning. Anyway, so this ‘wicked’ Queen not only makes Snowhite work as a scullery maid (child abuse?) she’s now super-pissed that her ‘magic’ mirror thinks Snowhite is prettier than her (schizophrenia? hate? jealousy? You take your pick). So as a final solution the Queen instructs her woodsman to lure the child out to the forest, stab her in the chest with his enormous hunting knife and, as if we weren’t grossed out enough, to carve her living, breathing heart out of her frail chest as proof of murder in the first degree.
I guess there was a reason the brothers were called Grimm.
Her miraculous escape then lands her in the lap of seven dwarves, all men by the way, who have stupid names like Farty and Burpy (or some adjective with a ‘y’ in the end to make them sound cute). The fact that she lived unsupervised with seven adult men for so long is another crime just screaming to be investigated.
Her life of gay abandon is short-lived as the wicked Queen now finds her way back to poor old unsuspecting Snowhite. Except this time she’s armed with poisonous apples which our heroine promptly devours. The dwarves upon finding out their (sex?) slave has been poisoned battle the Queen and manage to push her from atop a cliff to her much anticipated death.
The newly deceased Snowhite is then encased in a glass case and the dwarves huddle around her with long droopy faces. That is until a necrophiliac prince decides to perform oral erotica on her and breathe life into her lifeless body. They of course live happily ever after but that’s just like slapping a Loony Tunes logo after an Al Qaeda execution video.
The damage has already been done.
Hansel and Gretel : If there ever was a tale more sordid and blindingly terrifying than Hansel & Gretel I still have to come across it. The premise of this little tale alone is enough to turn the blood in your veins into ice.
In a remote forest, somewhere in Germany, lived a family of four. A woodsman father, one wicked step-mother (yup, you read that right) and their two adorable children Hansel & Gretel. Now due to an economic meltdown in the region the family find themselves facing a shortage of food. Apparently the only logical thing for the loving parents to do is to take their children deep into the forest and abandon them there. Once the kids had died of starvation there would be enough food for the husband and wife to gorge on.
I remember quite vividly my Mom reading this story to me as a child and, to this day, remember the cold sweats that formed on my stiffening six year old trembling body. It was fifteen years before I was brave enough to go anywhere alone with her.
Sorry, I need a moment here (pause for dramatic effect).
OK back to the story.
After having failed a couple of times (the pesky kids kept finding their way back) this time the parents go really deep into the forest and finally manage to rid themselves of their offsprings. The two terrified children are now alone in the dark forest waiting for their untimely death brought on by a severe case of malnutrition.
But things were about to take a turn for the worst. For in their confusion to get back home to their parents (why, I’ll never understand – haven’t they been trying to kill them?) they happen across a cottage made of candy in which lives (oh, God) A WITCH THAT EATS LITTLE CHILDREN!
This is a child’s fairy tale in case you had forgotten.
The children are now prisoners of this cannibalistic witch. She puts one child (Gretel) to work as her slave and the other in a cage where he is routinely fed foods high in calories so that he may become plump. He is being turned into a fatty because the witch wants to make sure there’s enough meat on his bones when she’s finally ready to slaughter him and eat him.
As fate would have it the children use some form of childish trickery to push the cannibal into her own oven and burn her alive. In the ensuing escape scene they are re-united with their lamenting father, who has been mysteriously absolved of his near murderous deed. The step-mother has conveniently disappeared leaving the shaken trio to live out the rest of their lives happily ever after.
Now I don’t know what you make out of this particular offering from the Brothers Grimm but it’s left an indelible scar on my psyche. Because, even to this day, when Mom & Dad are visiting, I sleep with one eye open.
Little Red Riding Hood : Once again we have front-row seats to a child’s life being put into danger. Not at the hands of a human who might have a change of heart but a vicious, ravenous wolf who is hell-bent on not just savaging Little Red but does not think twice about sinking his fangs into her other family members as well.
The story opens on cute Little Red skipping through the forest (seems like the forest was the way go to if you wanted to introduce tragedy and mayhem into your stories) on her way to Grandmas’. As she scampers along she comes face to face with Mr. Wolf who has a serious case of the munchies. And as luck would have it his favorite food is cute little girls sporting red capes.
Deciding that viciously tearing her body apart in public might be a bit much he tricks her into taking a different route to Grandmas’. As gullible Red wanders off our crafty canine races over to Granny’s and without much fuss swallows the old lady whole. Now dressed in her clothes, complete with bright red lipstick, our cross-dressing, double-crossing murderous villain sits in anticipation of his next meal.
As Little Red comes face to face with the wolf she can’t seem to see past the odd features that Granny now seems to possess. Red was either suffering from acute short-sightedness or Grandma was a dog. However, her suspicions are aroused when cute old Granny suddenly springs out of her bed and, fangs bare, charges at her jugular.
In the ensuing melee Little Red is also consumed and slides down Wolfies throat to be finally reunited with her dear old Grandmother. However, a woodcutter, not too far away, is witness to this savage animal attack and takes it upon his vigilante self to extract some revenge.
With an axe he bludgeons the wolf to death and tears open the animals’ stomach where, among the entrails, he finds the mangled bodies of a naked old woman and a little girl with a red cape. Of course the story says they came out alive but even a six year old knows that if you get eaten by an animal your chances of survival are very slim. That’s like eating a chicken sandwich and then regurgitating a hen. Doesn’t happen.
So there ends the story of vicious animal attacks, brutal vigilante justice and a brand new season of CSI FOREST.
I’d write more but my repressed childhood memories are threatening to come roaring back into terrifying life if I don’t stop. But stay tuned. There will be more.