Turning The Tables On Fairy Tales With Red Hot Riding Hood

Tex Avery’s Red Hot Riding Hood (MGM, 1943) turns many tables — but not enough — on old stereotypes:

According to Wikipedia:

The most famous element is the musical scene where Red performs and “Wolfie”, as she calls him, reacts in highly lustful wild takes. Those reactions were considered so energetic that the censors at the time demanded cuts in this scene and others.

The film’s original conclusion had Grandma marrying the wolf at a shotgun wedding (with a caricature of Tex Avery as the Justice of the Peace who marries them), and having the unhappy couple and their half-human half-wolf children attend Red’s show[citation needed]. This ending, deleted for reasons of implied bestiality and how it made light of marriage (something that was considered taboo back in the days of the Hays Office Code), was replaced with one (that, ironically, has also been edited, but only on television) where The Wolf is back at the nightclub and tells the audience that he’s through with chasing women and if he ever even looks at a woman again, he’s going to kill himself. When Red soon appears onstage to perform again, the Wolf takes out two pistols and blasts himself in the head. The Wolf then drops dead, but his ghost appears and begins to howl and whistle at Red same as before.

Prints with the original ending (where the Wolf is forced to marry the lusty Grandma) and the Wolf’s racier reactions to Red are rumored to have been shown to military audiences overseas during World War II, though it is not known if this print still exists.

‘Cuz suicide is funny. Or at least suicide, like most violence, is preferable to sex.

And in on of the weirdest decisions regarding bestiality ever, it’s only offensive if the woman is older — and lusty.

Once Upon A Time… There Was The Storyteller

I don’t spend my time listening to TV show announcements, and I admit I know even less about comics — but I do read a lot of blogs. So that’s how I found out that ABC has just announced that they have picked up a new series entitled Once Upon a Time, which is similar to Marvel’s Fables comic book series in that the fairytale characters will be set in “today’s world.” (Poor things.)

For some reason, this reminds me of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller, even if ABC’s show will have actors and (apparently) no puppets. And isn’t set in the past.

I’m looking forward to the new ABC television show… But I would welcome the return of Muppets, or any puppets, really.

Little Jumping Joan

I always found this nursery rhyme a little unnerving…

Little Jumping Joan

Here am I, little jumping Joan,
When nobody’s with me
I’m always alone.

Apparently photographer Jonathan Hobin thinks so too; this is Jumping Joan, a little girl wearing a straightjacket, from his Mother Goose series.

Let’s Talk Disney Princesses

About 15 years ago, I sent a letter to Disney (on behalf of my Disney stock-owning and Disney-loving daughter) demanding that they diversify their stock of Disney characters and stories.

Among other things, I suggested they make stories about adventurous mice, a la The Rescuers, who either didn’t all sound like white folk or who helped more than white children — both maybe. And I said they ought to include princesses of color in their films — and that maybe these princess didn’t have to be exclusively limited to exotic locations, like Princess Jasmine.

disney-princessesSince this letter of mine, there has been Pocahontas & Mulan, each’s ethnicity presented as exotic and distant via the pageantry of location and historical period as Jasmine. But now there’s the first black Disney princess, Princess Tiana in The Princess & The Frog.

(I know this sounds like one of those new Windows 7 commercials — but If I had any affect on The Mouse, it took 15 years to get past the corporate layers of white defenses.)

Tony Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose is the voice of Princess Tiana and she’s excited, telling People magazine, “This feels amazing. Not only is [Tiana] the first black princess, she’s the first American princess. So, the scope and the significance is larger than people even realize.”

Apparently Rose is so excited that she’s forgotten that Pocahontas was a Native American. While the ‘princess’ title may be debatable and the treatment of Native Americans is deplorable, is Pocahontas’ status as American really questioned?

If your daughter is a Disney princess fan — and you meet the other requirements — maybe you’d like to be on The Tyra Show:

Does your little girl love Disney princesses? Is she eagerly anticipating the arrival of the first black Disney princess, Princess Tiana? Have you always wanted to take your daughter to Disney World but have never had the means? Do you have an emotional story to share?

Emmy Award Winning Talk Show is looking for deserving moms and daughters who love Disney Princesses! Daughters should be ages 7-11. Must be available Tuesday, November 17 and the following Thursday to Friday.

My kids are all past Disney princess, but my niece isn’t (and my nephew is half charmed by them, half held hostage by his older sister’s demands). But even if there weren’t Disney kids in my clan, I’d still be glad to see an African American Disney princess. Because fairy tails may not come true, but believing in the magic of them is so much easier to do when folks look and sound more like you; not to mention what this does to those with delusions of white superiority.

Can’t Be A Sleeping Beauty On Real Issues

Via Teacups & Couture I found the works of photographer Dina Goldstein which follows up with fairy tale princess and their “happily ever afters.”

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Goldstein shares her exploration of Disney Princesses in Fallen Princesses at JPG Magazine:

These works place Fairy Tale characters in modern day scenarios. In all of the images the Princess is placed in an environment that articulates her conflict. The ‘…happily ever after’ is replaced with a realistic outcome and addresses current issues.

The project was inspired by my observation of three-year-old girls, who were developing an interest in Disney’s Fairy tales. As a new mother I have been able to get a close up look at the phenomenon of young girls fascinated with Princesses and their desire to dress up like them. The Disney versions almost always have sad beginning, with an overbearing female villain, and the end is predictably a happy one. The Prince usually saves the day and makes the victimized young beauty into a Princess.

As a young girl, growing up abroad, I was not exposed to Fairy tales. These new discoveries lead to my fascination with the origins of Fairy tales. I explored the original brothers Grimm’s stories and found that they have very dark and sometimes gruesome aspects, many of which were changed by Disney. I began to imagine Disney’s perfect Princesses juxtaposed with real issues that were affecting women around me, such as illness, addiction and self-image issues.

There are 2 more to be shot for this series which is going on exhibit on Oct. 15/09

The images are striking; the subject matter near to my heart.

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I did some work in college on the messages in Disney images & stories. My project, Damaged By Disney, was similarly inspired by watching my then very young daughter digest Disney images — and now that I’ve had nearly two more decades of additional experiences I find I am only more interested.

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I had to talk with Dina to see just what the two planned photographs would be about.

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I was hoping she’d use one of the last two works to explore violence against women — it’s such a huge problem, one that’s not very well understood, in large part because few want to discuss it. Domestic violence and sexual assault of women are not covered as often as they should be; they are dismissed from discussion, deemed one part “taboo” and one part “drag.” But as both a survivor of domestic violence and a victim of date rape, I was hoping Goldstein would use her considerable talents to bring up the subjects.

dina-goldstein-fallen-princess-snowy

When I asked Goldstein, she confessed that the two planned photos, featuring Ariel and The Princess & The Pea, would not address domestic violence or violence against women.

:sigh:

But I do think that I’ve planted a seed — Nay! I’ve placed the Domestic Violence & Violence Against Women peas beneath her mattress, and now I must just wait to see how many sleepless nights it takes to convince the photographer to lend her visual voice to the issues.

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