From Leg Iron once again
I once tried to write a children's story. Honestly, I did. Unfortunately, two of the three main characters were dead by the end of chapter 1 and there was more to come. There was also some interspecies sex on the cards. I abandoned it.
The Brothers Grimm were not so faint-hearted. In Hansel and Gretel, they tell the tale of two small children deliberately abandoned in the woods by their father, found by an evil witch who wants to eat them, and who escape by roasting the witch alive. In Snow White, a beautiful girl is sent to the woods with a hunter, who has been instructed to kill her and bring back her heart. By her stepmother. She survives and goes to live with seven lonely men, apparently related to Hideous Harman, until her stepmother finds her and poisons her. Red Riding Hood's granny gets eaten by a wolf who then pretends to be the dead granny in order to eat the little girl. Cinderella gets the crap kicked out of her every day by her stepmother and stepsisters, until Brando the fairy godfather makes her an offer she can't refuse and she ends up sleeping with fishes. I might not have remembered that last one entirely correctly.
I remember these tales from childhood. I don't recall lying awake in terror in case the Three Billy Goats Gruff came around. I don't remember hiding under the sheets in case the Big Wolf came to blow my house down. In fact, the only scary thing I remember from childhood was the Autons in Dr. Who. Daleks? pah. It was the Autons that had me shivering. Even so, there was no lasting damage (apart from a nasty flashback when Kraftwerk released 'Showroom Dummies').
Children nowadays have to be protected from anything that might scare them or even make them feel a teensy bit uncomfortable. Their parents have decreed that the old fairy tales are not politically correct. So, they want Snow White's story renamed to avoid references to dwarfs. I suggest casting Hideous Harman as the only midget in the show, and calling it 'Snow White and the Severed Dwarf'. I could do something with that, I think.
Rapunzel is, apparently, too 'dark'. She had thirty feet of blonde hair. How light can it get?
Cinderella is 'outdated' because she does the housework. She's treated as a slave - that's the point of the story. It can't be sexist because she's one of four women in the house and none of the other three lift a finger. There are no men.
A fifth of parents said fairytales were no longer politically correct, while 17 per cent worried they would give their children nightmares.
I used to love nightmares. Still do. They are the dreams you remember, not the wishy-washy flowers and puppies dreams these parents seem to think all children should have. That way lies weakness and blandness and a total lack of imagination. We face our fears in dreams, where it's safe, and we can cope better with the real fears of the real world as a result.
As for politically correct, well let's see what we can do with the list the Mail gives us. Perhaps they can be updated:
1. Snow White and the severed dwarf. A tale of a beautiful girl brought up on a council estate, who harbours a slightly psychotic darker side.
2. Hansel and Gretel. Two middle-class kids dumped in the ghetto, who survive through prostitution and drug dealing until they discover the rather more lucrative aspects of cannibalism, and open their own fast food place, 401 yards from a school.
3. Cinderella. Adopted under the supervision of Social Services, this small child moves from home to home until she finally ends up with step-parents who don't smoke. Unfortunately they are involved in the white slave trade and sell her to a foreign prince for a pair of shiny shoes and a pumpkin.
4. Little Red Riding Hood. Now known as 'Little Red Riding Hoodie', she has a brief fling with the wolf and now lives as a single parent in a penthouse flat in Stepney.
5. The Gingerbread Man. For Equality purposes, this is now 'The Gingerhead Woman' and tells of a self-important little creature with crazed ideas who makes it into Government but unfortunately ends up dunked in the Prime Monster's tea.
6. Jack and the beanstalk. Reality TV show in which contestants have to climb a beanstalk and defeat a big guy in a tunic. Not too hard since his main mode of attack is to shout 'Fee fie foe fum' at them. The winner gets a golden egg, certified Salmonella free, and a goose.
7. Sleeping Beauty. The heroine is stabbed by the evil youth and falls into a coma, to be revived years later by a man who sneaks into her bedroom while she's asleep and kisses her. The man is helping police with their enquiries.
8. Beauty and the beast. Utterly repellent Wayne Beast lives alone, surrounded by empty Stella cans and pizza boxes, until Chantelle visits. He keeps her prisoner until she accepts his offer of permanent free housing for life if she'll just let him get her pregnant. Even so, she wants sixteen cans and a pepperoni before she'll do the deed.
9. Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Homeless Goldilocks wanders into a house where there are three meals on the table and helps herself, then takes up residence. The homeowners are somewhat miffed and complain to the council, who point out that Goldilocks now has squatter's rights and cannot be evicted. The three bears are sent to live in the woods where they freeze to death in winter while being pursued for council tax on their property.
10. The Emperor's New Clothes. Oh this one's easy. Two devious and unscrupulous men, Count Mandelson and Darth Campbell, convince the Emperor that he will be Saviour of the World if he follows their advice. They convince him that their advice is magical and only really intelligent people can understand it. When everyone in the country shouts out 'The Emperor has no Brain', only one little socialist pipes up with 'He's doing the right thing'. That one little socialist voice changes the world. For the worse.
Sometime, these stories will be written and children all over the country can go back to having nightmares.
Just like their parents.