Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Panto time!

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Cinderella is 'outdated' because she does the housework.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.

Every night.

Just like their parents.


Ron Broxted said...

Can I be Hannibal Lecter in it?

The Penguin said...

Yeah, but what about the Grim Fairy Story that is "The NuLiebore Party and the 11-plus years of incompetence and corruption"? Surely someone should warn parents not to tell this sorry tale to their children, not just because it's fucking scary but because they would have difficulty believing it.

The Penguin

Bob's Head Revisited said...

As ever Leg-iron, brilliantly put.

I guess we should take heart that 4 out of 5 did not think kids should be protected from nightmares and horrid thoughts.

I reckon those 1 in 5 have always existed to an extent. I bet there have always been parents who just wished their child could never have a nasty thought or unhappy experience ever again. “Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Oh how do we do it? What can we do in this horrid imperfect world to make it all better and to make sure little Alice never gets upset?”

Eventually, they either pulled themselves together or someone just said “We can’t, so stop worrying, OK?” And the parent said, “Yes, you’re right. What’s for tea?”

Unfortunately these days our government has positively encouraged all this PC nonsense. From the darkest fantasy world of them all – Westminsterland – spring policies, and a network of grimly righteous zealots determined to make a perfect, safe, equal world.

The fact that it’s a fantasy isn’t going to stop them. They are determined to fuck up as much of this country as possible just to prove how hard they tried.

Happy New Year, by the way.

P.S. It was the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang that gave me the most nightmares!

Anonymous said...

bob's head - agree that fucker in chitty chitty bang bang is seriously scary!!

Anonymous said...

OH, Off topic but of interest,

THE Home Office has quietly adopted a new plan to allow police across Britain routinely to hack into people’s personal computers without a warrant.

The move, which follows a decision by the European Union’s council of ministers in Brussels, has angered civil liberties groups and opposition MPs. They described it as a sinister extension of the surveillance state which drives “a coach and horses” through privacy laws.

The hacking is known as “remote searching”. It allows police or MI5 officers who may be hundreds of miles away to examine covertly the hard drive of someone’s PC at his home, office or hotel room.

Material gathered in this way includes the content of all e-mails, web-browsing habits and instant messaging.

Under the Brussels edict, police across the EU have been given the green light to expand the implementation of a rarely used power involving warrantless intrusive surveillance of private property. The strategy will allow French, German and other EU forces to ask British officers to hack into someone’s UK computer and pass over any material gleaned.

A remote search can be granted if a senior officer says he “believes” that it is “proportionate” and necessary to prevent or detect serious crime — defined as any offence attracting a jail sentence of more than three years.

However, opposition MPs and civil liberties groups say that the broadening of such intrusive surveillance powers should be regulated by a new act of parliament and court warrants.

They point out that in contrast to the legal safeguards for searching a suspect’s home, police undertaking a remote search do not need to apply to a magistrates’ court for a warrant.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, the human rights group, said she would challenge the legal basis of the move. “These are very intrusive powers – as intrusive as someone busting down your door and coming into your home,” she said.

“The public will want this to be controlled by new legislation and judicial authorisation. Without those safeguards it’s a devastating blow to any notion of personal privacy.”

She said the move had parallels with the warrantless police search of the House of Commons office of Damian Green, the Tory MP: “It’s like giving police the power to do a Damian Green every day but to do it without anyone even knowing you were doing it.”

Richard Clayton, a researcher at Cambridge University’s computer laboratory, said that remote searches had been possible since 1994, although they were very rare. An amendment to the Computer Misuse Act 1990 made hacking legal if it was authorised and carried out by the state.

He said the authorities could break into a suspect’s home or office and insert a “key-logging” device into an individual’s computer. This would collect and, if necessary, transmit details of all the suspect’s keystrokes. “It’s just like putting a secret camera in someone’s living room,” he said.

Police might also send an e-mail to a suspect’s computer. The message would include an attachment that contained a virus or “malware”. If the attachment was opened, the remote search facility would be covertly activated. Alternatively, police could park outside a suspect’s home and hack into his or her hard drive using the wireless network.

Police say that such methods are necessary to investigate suspects who use cyberspace to carry out crimes. These include paedophiles, internet fraudsters, identity thieves and terrorists.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said such intrusive surveillance was closely regulated under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. A spokesman said police were already carrying out a small number of these operations which were among 194 clandestine searches last year of people’s homes, offices and hotel bedrooms.

“To be a valid authorisation, the officer giving it must believe that when it is given it is necessary to prevent or detect serious crime and [the] action is proportionate to what it seeks to achieve,” Acpo said.

Dominic Grieve, the shadow home secretary, agreed that the development may benefit law enforcement. But he added: “The exercise of such intrusive powers raises serious privacy issues. The government must explain how they would work in practice and what safeguards will be in place to prevent abuse.”

The Home Office said it was working with other EU states to develop details of the proposals.

Sue said...

Jeez, my girls loved ALL those stories! Many of them have messages to teach children lessons like to beware of strangers..., and best of all, they mostly end "Happily Ever After"

Dave h. said...

Good post!

Snow White and the Seven Sea Devils would scare me. Mind you if Beyoncé were cast as Snow White (the irony!) I still might watch it endlessly, or at least until my arm began to tire.

And don't forget the Three Little Halal Goats and the Wolf.

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for Snow White poor thing always thought 7 Up was a drink till she met the 7 dwarves.

Chalcedon said...

I used to do a lot of panto, mostly the Dame but I did do a mean Abanaza once. The kids loved to boo and shout. They aren't scared. I think parents mollycoddle little children. All mine were told the fairy tales and none of them are scared for life because of it!

Anonymous said...

Who gives a fuck about fairy tales ?
If you want your kids to have nightmares just make them watch the news.

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