Sunday, March 22, 2009

Story Time

One of my daily rituals is putting my daughter to bed. I give her a bath, put her in her jammies, and then read her a story.

Yes, I do have a softer side.

Plus, it's a lot easier than the old ritual of letting Susan do it all and then pretending not to hear her complain about it.

So this evening, I was putting her to bed and I picked up a big book of fairy tales.

You know, the classics. Jack and the Beanstalk, Hansel and Gretel, Siegfried and Roy.

I love that last one. There's a tiger.


Too soon?

Anyway, I start flipping through the book, trying to find a nice story that'll teach her a good moral or something.

The Ugly Duckling.

That seems like a good choice. My daughter's cute as a button, but you never know when she's going to have an ugly friend.

Gotta plan ahead.

I started reading, but, as the story progressed, I started to actually pay attention to the words.

That story's messed up.

Everybody talks about how nice this story is, how it teaches kids to look at the beauty inside a person rather than the outside.

Nice, right?

It really is nice.

Except that's not at all what the book says.

The story actually tells kids that it's okay to make fun of ugly kids as long as they're ugly. When they grow up and turn out beautiful, then you go ahead and like them.

How is that a good message?

Honey, I know you're incredibly ugly, but that's okay because eventually you won't be ugly anymore and then everyone will love you.

It's okay to hate ugly people.

But not beautiful people.

The end.

Not only are you NOT teaching your child that beauty is on the inside, you're actually teaching them that they SHOULD hate ugly people until they become beautiful.

What if your kid doesn't turn out beautiful? What if the ugly goes all the way to the bone?

Good job. Now, your kid knows that no one is ever going to love them.

Your parent-of-the-year award is in the mail.

That's a messed up story.

But there had to be a good story in that book, right?


Not so much.

Every freaking fairy tale I learned about as a kid is seriously F&%@ed up.

Hansel and Gretel. Two kids are wandering through the woods unsupervised, find a strange house, and decide to explore said house. Then, when confronted by the house's owner, they kill her and run away.

Sure, she was a witch, but they were breaking and entering.

They started that shit.

Hey, kids. It's totally okay to go running through the woods alone. And if you find somebody's house, feel free to look around and kill anyone in the house as long as candy is involved.

Yay! Candy!

And homicide!

Jack and the Beanstalk. Boy sells family cow for magic beans. Boy plants beans. Beans grow into beanstalk.

As you would expect.

Boy climbs beanstalk, finds a house, and breaks in.

Again with the breaking and entering.

Are there any classic children's stories that don't involve some sort of B & E?

He then steals from the giant who lives in the house and, when the giant chases him to get back his property, Jack kills him.

What the hell is going on with these stories? Are we trying to entertain our children or give them lessons on crime?

You can blame games all you want, but games are at least honest about the story. When you kill Bowser, you know that bastard kidnapped the princess. He deserved it.

No, in the fairy tale version, Mario is retarded, breaks into Bowser's castle and when he gets confronted, he kills Bowser because it's apparently okay to kill anyone who gets in your way.

Try and get an ESRB rating on that one.

Am I asking too much from these stories? I mean, I know they were written in another time, but you can't tell me they didn't have laws against stealing and murder back then.

Sure, Dora might not be considered classic literature, but I don't remember her ever breaking into someone's house and then offing them because they couldn't help her get to ice cream mountain.

Then again... That doesn't sound like too bad of a story.


At 8:20 PM, Blogger Kahsha said...

Dora carries a backpack for all the loot she steals.
She has a map to the exact locations.
Swiper taught her everything she knows.

At 9:08 PM, Blogger Chrysalis said...

*giggles hysterically* Yes, most fairy tales were extremely messed up in some way. That's why I haven't read most of them to my son. Nice to see someone else noticed!

At 9:18 PM, Blogger MinorAgentofChaos said...

And keep in mind, Dave's probably reading some really bowdlerized disneyfied versions.

You really wanna get messed up, read the real Brothers Grimm versions. and keep in mind that the Grimms toned THOSE down.

The Juniper Tree is enough to give nightmares for years.

At 1:51 AM, Blogger tyranastrasz said...

Much as I'd love to say that the intention of the Ugly Duckling story is more along the lines of pointing out that someone who's ugly will have other redeeming qualities, let's be honest, little kids don't know HOW to read that far into it.

At 2:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never understood why parents bath kids every day. I'm not ignorant, but i am a kidless adult and I've never understood this. Do they get exceptionally dirty to the point where a wash won't do?

Oh, and OT, yer - fariy tales are grim business.

At 3:51 AM, Blogger Eve said...

@M - no kids of my own, but several nieces/nephews...every day bath is good for them because they run around a lot, and get sweaty, etc. Especially in the summer, they get sweaty at the park, where there is a lot of dirt.

original post - I find Grimm's fairy tales, even watered down, quite disturbing myself, and wonder how they got to be widely accepted as children's stories...but I still love the stories.

At 4:34 AM, Blogger Jess said...

I never really thought about fairy tales in depth until now.. O.o That's just crazy!!

TV for children is just as bad imo these days, I remember growing up with Tom and Jerry, Duck Tales, etc. They were great shows!

At 4:53 AM, Blogger Tao said...

Ahhh the storys of old.
The same goes for the nursery rhymes you were told as a kid.
My neice recently told me this one:

"Mary had a little lamb it's fleece all white and whispy, along comes foot and mouth disease and now it's black and crispy"

She didn't understand what foot and mouth was but she found it hillarious that a sheep gets burned up for contracting it....the world is messed up!

At 5:40 AM, Blogger Nyxmyst said...

The thing you have to remember about fairy tales is that most of them weren't originally meant for children.

They were written by adults for adults.. normally during long dreary winters back before we had electricity or gaming systems to entertain us all.

Sure, they've watered them down for kids but.. even watered down these stories are pretty violent.. always will be. Hell, so are a lot of nursery rhymes for that matter.

At 6:56 AM, Blogger RurouniZanza said...

I dare you to name one Final Fantasy where you didn't go into someones house and stole an item, or into a castle and took what was in treasure chests.

But then again, you will probably say that the fairy tales were read to the game designers when they were young and that would explain everything.

At 8:53 AM, Blogger Fayune said...

Since haivng a child myself I have noticed that most classic literature is entirely fucked up. Even the older Disney movies are pretty messed up. From child neglect and animal abuse, smoking and getting shitfaced (what my husband refers to as "20 minutes of acid dropping", in Dumbo).

M- giving a child a bath, getting jammies on and reading a book is a nice bedtime schedule. Baby learns that it's bedtime when these things happen and it helps them wind down and fall asleep easier.

At 9:57 AM, Blogger Music-chan said...

Believe it or not, most fairy tails were not originally written for children. They were written for adult entertainment, back in the royal courts of kingdoms everywhere.

That's why if you go back to the original stories, there's actually quite a bit of violence and nudity in 'fairytales.' Don't believe me? See if you can find a really early edition of Little Red Riding Hood. Go ahead....but don't say I didn't warn you first.

At 10:09 AM, Blogger MinorAgentofChaos said...

See if you can find a really early edition of Little Red Riding Hood.

Or Sleeping know, the original versions where she's woken up by her newborn twins suckling at her breast, with no prince in sight.

Yup. That means Prince "Charming" did exactly what you think he did.

At 10:33 AM, Blogger katsgone said...

Of course - just for fun look into nursery rhymes - I had an English professor who loved to talk about the stories behind those cute little "Ring around the rosie" - it was apparently about the plague, with a "rosie" as a symptom, "pocket full of posies" being herbs people carried to innoculate themselves from it and "ashes, ashes we all fall down" refering to burning the bodies.....he was such a cheery yet creepy fellow....

At 2:03 PM, Blogger Sulurith said...

It wasn't so much that they tried to inoculate themselves with posies, but the posies would be odorous enough that keeping them on you would overcome most of the stench of the sick and dead.

At 5:33 AM, Blogger Xarenthel said...

My Granddad gave me a book of the original Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales and Aesop's Fables... when I was 10. My dad was most displeased by this. It's still one of my favorite books.

Yeah, they're morbid, and alot of times inappropriate, but its an early life lesson?

At 5:35 AM, Blogger Kiwi said...

**Posting under correct username**
My Granddad gave me a book of the original Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales and Aesop's Fables... when I was 10. My dad was most displeased by this. It's still one of my favorite books.

Yeah, they're morbid, and alot of times inappropriate, but its an early life lesson?
**Stupid GMail.**

At 6:27 AM, Blogger Angelique said...

Go watch some Looney Tunes.
Everything we enjoyed as a kid are incredibly f-ed up.
But we turned out alright.

At 11:26 AM, Blogger Katherine said...

Yeah, Fairy tales didn't begin as being meant for children. They were simple because they were intended for relatively uneducated peasants - but adults nonetheless to form a sort of nationalist concept of "shared history" and commonality among separate territories that would later be unified into nations (like Germany for instance)
Because the became widely known they were passed on generation to generation - and at increasingly younger ages, which is how they were toned down and tamed slightly over time, but they remain brutal (and they were brutal so they would be interesting to harsh living peasants originally)

.... I'm a literature major >.> Yeah. Way too educational. Try Tolkien.

At 4:51 PM, Blogger Leut said...

This sounded like something Carlos Mencia would steal for a bit.

At 5:44 PM, Blogger Chrysalis said...

Mmmmm Sleeping Beauty. These days if you want a proper fairy tale written for adults, look no further... forget dredging up Grimm's or anything before it, while they're awesome, you wanna see Sleeping Beauty updated to a more oldfashioned tale... pick up Anne Rice's version. *laughs*

At 6:07 PM, Blogger Leut said...

If you look real hard you can see down Angelique's shirt in her picture.....

At 6:22 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

The original stories are pretty sweet. See, the original Hansel and Gretel were constantly left out in the woods by their evil step-mother (there's a ton of evil step mothers), then they find the candy house, then the witch force feeds one of them to fatten em up, then the other one kills the witch to save them both. Then they run home to daddy.

I wasn't entirely sure where the moral was. Probably that it's okay to hate your step-mother.

P.S.: The original Cinderella has self-mutilation.


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