Fairy Tales 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
This version obviously is about feminism and emancipation. Little Red Riding Hood is the strong character in it. This starts with her appearance. She has short hair like a man and her French accent reflects the strong, independent woman from France. But also her behavior clearly depicts feminism: she clearly dominates the male wolf, rejects him several times and is not concerned with things like romanticism. When she says that “she always had a special relationship with wolfs” she clearly talks about sex. In French “voir le loup” (translated: “see the wolf”) means having sex, often even for the first time. (It probably derives from a wolf having a tail, which in French can mean both: literally a tail but also a penis). Thus, talking about a special relationship to wolfs, it is Little Red Riding Hood who takes the stereotypical role of the male by not being romantic but just being concerned with sex. The wolf on the other hand is clearly feminized: he cares about things like romanticism and is not able to dominate her but is instead dominated by her. This can also be seen in the last scene. Even though Little Red Riding Hood does know that the wolf is dangerous and killed her grandmother, she still goes to face him. In this scene we do have a shift from the traditional Little Red Riding Hood where the girl asks the wolf and the wolf replies. It is him asking her questions. During the conversation, the audience even gets the impression that the wolf is scared of her and not Little Red Riding Hood of him. The scene reaches its peak when she tells him that she will eat him. The following clapping and cheering of the female audience only further underlined the feminist approach in this version of Little Red Riding Hood.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
I too, chose to write about the version of Little Red Riding Hood that has a “Strange Twist.” (Katie J.) In this version, the Wolf and Little Red Riding Hoods’ grandmother join in an alliance against Little Red. Is the grandmother crazy? Did she overdose on her medication? Did she take too many painkillers? The fact that she is on her death bed one second and then shaking her booty the next suggest to me that this is so. This depressingly bizarre version of Little Red Riding Hood uses the grandmother to stereotype women as impulsive, forward, and un-loyal. Little Red Riding Hood is unable to stand against her grandmother and the world, portraying women as weak and dependent upon others.
I am disheartened by the theme of women against women found in this telling of the story. Here we have three related women and only two of them are supportive of one another. Little Red and her mother are enemies fighting against the supposed matriarch of their lineage. In stories we often see women competing against each other, but this case is especially saddening because the women are all blood related.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
For my video this week, I watched a Little Red Riding Hood sketch from a German comedy special by none other than Monty Python. As you can see, they seem to have taken a few notable liberties. I love the ferocious wolf cast as a cute pup in a furry shirt. It is absolutely remarkable how ingrained the story has become on our culture. Across the globe, (this clip was dubbed into English) we laugh at the plot alterations and the new, bolder interpretation of a not-so-little Red Riding Hood due to the fact that everyone knows exactly how the story is supposed to go.
Like most modern day renditions, Monty Python removes all erotic aspects from the story; however, they also remove most other aspects. For example, they substitute virtually the entire conflict, and the "What big eyes you have!" scene, for Buzz Aldrin in NASA HQ. I was not bothered in the least by this new plot. The story itself obviously, much like The Juniper Tree, is irritably illogical. Eric Berne complains of the same plot holes in Tatar: "Why didn't her mother do it herself, or go along with LRRH? If grandmother was so helpless, why did mother leave her all by herself in a hut far away?" and so forth. The original story has so many plot gaps that this version isn't too much of a modern stretch.
My favorite part of the original story: "Are you making cables out there? Are you making cables?"
I decided to see if Disney happened to do his own version of Little Red Riding Hood and was not surprised when I found that he did in fact do his own version of the tale early in his career in 1922. This is one of seven Laugh-o-Grams with four of the originals still surviving. Walt Disney did this before he was "Walt Disney" and known worldwide for Snow White, Cinderella, and even the creation of the mouse himself, Mickey. I found his take on the story particularly interesting because it is so out of the norm for what we are used to seeing Disney produce.
Typically, Disney does adapt stories to fit his own needs and makes them more family-friendly. The first thing I noticed in this video was the complete replacement of an animal predator with that of an actual human. The wolf that preys on Red is now a full-fledged human next-door-neighbor type who noticeably doesn't have to do anything to get rid of Grandmother and does who knows what with Red inside of Grandmother's house. The predator element is still there but oddly, Disney chose to make it even more creepy and realistic.
The realistic aspect of Disney's take on it is even further enhanced through the modern (for the time) look of the characters and scenery. Disney's Red doesn't travel by foot. No, she's a modern girl who travels by car... pushed by her dog. The hunter who only appears in a few versions of the written tale rescues Red not with a gun but with wit and the help of his airplane. Also, in true Disney fashion, the tale has a happy ending and ends with Red and the hunter smooching on the airplane which is a new addition that follows the standard of guy getting girl in the end that we are used to seeing.
I also thought it was interesting that Disney spent a good portion of his story focusing on Red's mother who really isn't significant in versions of the story that we read in class. Disney also chose to add Red's father (I think that's who he was...) to the story. We see him hanging in what appears to be a portrait so either he's dead but able to talk or just an interactive picture that watches over Red's house. Either way, I think it's a bit funny that Disney chose to add him but portray him in such a creepy way.
Disney's version of Little Red Riding Hood is similar to James Thurber's version in that puts a modern twist on an old tale. It makes the tale a little more belieavable while still being eery yet fun. Although, I must admit that I find it easier to believe the idea of a pedophile existing and going to such extensive measures to capture his prey more believable in today's world than in the 1920s.
Everything is listed with its prices, everything is shown as objects for consumption. This, in my mind, is effectively LRRH as an infomercial (but without the C-grade stars and hokey announcers), this story is not taking place "Once upon a time" it is taking place now, in some uniform quotidian suburban (video game?) setting with prefabricated homes and GPS. I am very taken by this video one because I think the animation is great, but also because I love how it turns this "moral/educational" Fairy Tale into exactly three minutes of advertising, without actually losing the story at all.
PS. you can see the whole video and the street names and words better if you watch it in HD (720px) on YouTube, the embedded version does not really do it justice!
At some point in time, society began openly returning to sexualized themes (i.e. buy this toothpaste and a random hot chick will walk up and make out with you). Now everything is about sex, even things that were not initially intended to be (such as toothpaste, clothing, gum, detergent, etc.), so the sexualization of fairy tales (especially those that lend themselves to it, like Little Red) is inevitable. When I searched on YouTube I found (well, several things, but...) one particular series that stood out to me. There were several cartoons from Tex Avery about Little Red Riding Hood. The cartoons came out in the 1940s and while there were several of them, they were all essentially the same. Each one had Red as a night club dancer, flirting with, but denying the wolf who was adamantly pursuing her. Many of the scenes overlapped, some songs were the same, and the wolf generally had the same reaction each time, not to mention that the characters were all the exact same (meaning drawn the same with the same voices, etc.).
What I found most interesting was that there were so many different versions of essentially the same thing? Why? The only thing I can think of is that there must have been demand for the topic, so Tex Avery would change it a little and re-market it. Sex sells in modern day America (and most other places around the world). Here is the link to the one that actually addresses the change to a sexier version:
if that doesn't work type in "Red Hot Riding Hood (1943)-High Quality" on YouTube.
Additionally, I watched the Christina(?) Ricci version (posted on OAK) and again found it to focus on the original sexual themes from the early version of the tale (told for adults). To be honest, I had never heard of any reference to these themes in this story before this class, but you don't have to look too far to find this version making a comeback due to the demands of today's society. Unfortunately, I don't think we do as good of a job keeping this stuff out of the hands of children today (especially when we put it in cartoon form). Either way, looks like Red is returning to her roots.