Fairy Tales 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

“All the better to eat with you”

One of my favorite versions I found online was “All the better to eat with you”. (Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czBCtTLeGUQ&feature=related). This animated version starts with the wolf’s mother telling him to get some food. Walking through the wood he meets Little Red Riding Hood, but it’s her starting to talk to him by telling him to get out of the way. She talks in a French accent and has short hair. Trying to involve her into a conversation, he start talking to her but even though it was her who initiated the conversation, she replies by telling him that she does not talk to animals - and simply walks away. In the next scene we see her walking through the forest and hearing a desperate voice: it’s the wolf ripping off the leaves of a flower piece by piece and playing she loves me, she doesn’t love me. Seeing her, he asks her if she wants to help him collecting flowers for his grandmother. She replies with a contemptuous “flowers?” and starts walking away again but this time he trips her up, catches her in midair and threatens her with a wide open mouth. But her reaction is not fear but a long kiss. She tells him that she always had a special relationship to wolves and that she will see him tomorrow. In the next scene, the grandmother of Little Red Riding Hood calls her but the wolf eats the grandmother during Little Red Riding Hood is still on the phone. Even though she knows that the wolf is at her grandmother’s house, Little Red Riding Hood still goes there and finds the wolf lying in bed with her grandmother’s cloths on. In this version it is the wolf who starts asking little Red Riding Hood asking questions and her answering in a very dominant manner. The third thing he tells her is: “What a tiny little mouth you have”. She replies with the movie’s title: “All the better to eat you with” and gets out her silverware. The version ends with the whole movie having been a theater scene with an audience consisting of only women dressed in red hoods like Little Red Riding Hood, clapping and cheering loudly for the performance.

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.

The Untold Story

So, this is an amateur short film made by some younger filmmakers. In their version, LRRH is the epitome of a kick-ass female. When she meets the wolf, a conversation turns sour. The wolf makes LRRH drop her muffins. This is the signifier. LRRH, in this version, loves her muffins more than anything in the world. LRRH violently attacks the wolf and his narrative function is forgotten for the rest of the video. In an interesting story turn, LRRH also beats her Grandma for dropping the muffins after a communication snafu.
What i think is interesting about this version is that young filmmakers felt a need to give LRRH power. They obviously picked up on some kind of helplessness of women theme in the story, and they attempt to correct it. Even through amateur filmmaking, these girls are making a story that is empowering. LRRH can fend for herself--almost like a superhero. Her and her muffins against the world.
You should definitely watch this all the way through. The Grandmother character does not even recognize her own granddaughter, so in a way she deserves to get beaten with her own crutch. Notable in this film is the same kind of punishment/pleasure logic that is apparent in the narrative structure of most fairy tales. Every gets their due, and LRRH is free to bring muffins to whomever she likes...and don't even think about crossing her

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Little Bizarre Red

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.

Sexy Little Red Riding Hood


I first clicked on this video as a joke. Thinking, what could possibly be in a "sexy schoolgirl" version of Little Red Riding Hood but yet still be a cartoon. After watching the video and comparing it to the actual stories of Little Red Riding Hood, it is evident that there are some comparisons as well as some drastic differences.

First of all, there is no Grandmother character. Little Red Riding Hood is not on her way to her grandmother's house, she is simply in the woods and comes across the wolf. She is not frightened of the wolf either, he is simply another character alongside of her. One really interesting component of this version is that the wolf is singing the song. It is from his point of view. He makes Little Red Riding Hood out to be the sexualized character instead of himself. When "what big eyes you have, what big lips, etc" is being sung in the chorus, the video is zoomed in on her face. This symbolizes Little Red Riding hood as the sexual figure and is referring to her features rather than the wolf's. This is a stark contrast to the Perrault and Grimm versions of the story.

I also thought it was interesting that this video is so sexual. There are some youtube videos that are strictly geared toward young children and it is very evident. This video, however, is not and tells a very different story than the ones targeted at youngsters. I think it is very important to note these differences and compare the different versions and depictions of the "classic" tale.


(Just click on the entire video to go straight to view it at YouTube. Quality is much better there.)

This is the theatrical trailer to the 2005 film, Hoodwinked. It's impossible to understand all the intricacies of Red's story (and the other stories mixed in with it) without viewing the entire film, but the trailer is enough for you to see that this isn't a "nice and clean" portrayal of these fable and fairy tale characters. What I find most interesting about this is that these subversive versions of the characters may not hark all the way back to the naughty nature of the pre-canonical story, but they are still a good deal away from has become the cookie-cutter American tradition. And what's more, is that the intended audience is for children! I can't help but wonder what this says, or if it says anything, about where our culture is leading us. Are we slowly going back to the times when kids are simply useless, miniature adults?
I too decided to write about the Monty Python version. While this version may not be as artistic or symbolic as the one we watched in class today, we can still derive signifcance from such an absurd take on the classic fairy tale. Because Little Red Riding Hood has been embedded upon the minds of every child, we are more than familiar with the story. Innocent girl naive of her grandmother who was been eaten, and the whole "my, what big ____ you have!..." sequence...Because of our knowledge of this universally known tale, comedic representations are made possible. Is the spoof or paradoy genre born from popularity of an idea? This video would not work if we did not know first hand the original tale. Seeing Little Red Riding Hood represented in fact by a tall hairy masculine man who splinters giant pieces of lumber and kicks down trees in the forest registers as an incronguency in our heads which in turn sparks our comedic response. The big hairy wolf transformed into a small wiener dog with a little fur costume on is absolutley hilarious, and the famous sequence of the tale completely replaced with a take on NASA and nuclear testing does the same for us. It is interesting to see what tales/books/films are most often parodied because it seems that the original works made fun of are in fact highly valued and respected by most people.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Little Red Riding Hood and the Holy Grail

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?"

Disney's Little Red Riding Hood

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.

Little Red Riding Hood

This is a wonderfully modern, commercial, animated rendering of the story. This is clearly an animation of the Grimm's sanitized version (as referenced by Little Red Ridding Hood's house being on South Grimm Street--and then if you look carefully, at 0:38 she turns right on Perrault street!), but here I think it works perfectly well, because just as the Grimm's story removes the magical and fantastical elements from the original story (along with all the sexual innuendo) this version even further removes even the fairy tale elements, and turns the story into something that looks like a cross between google maps, Lego's, and the emergency instruction manual you find in the back seat pocket on airplanes. I am a fan of animation in general, and strictly two dimensional animation like this, but what I love most about this is that it completely reduces the entire story to symbols and modern day advertising: the random parts of the VW van, the house cross-sections, the hunter's rifle, the grandmother's nutritional facts. 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!

Red Riding Hood's Returns to Her Roots

As we have discussed in class, the story of Little Red Riding Hood originated as a sexual story for adults with implications of a bed scene between Red and the Wolf. It then begun its shift to a children's story with the intention of teaching children morals about how to avoid/ handle sexual themes (breaking the bottle a symbol of losing virginity, the explicit moral about avoiding "wolves" at the end of the Perrault version, etc.). Little Red then became just that, LITTLE RED. Society transformed the tale into one for children about a more child-like version of little Red herself, an innocent story about a little girl taking food to her sick grandmother, removing all sexual innuendos. That is the version most of us grew up with, but society is changing again.

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.