Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Devolving Into Bland

Removing the "N" word from children's rhymes has probably done a lot toward removing the "N" word from popular speech.

The question is, where should such expungement stop?

I was just told that when "E. T." comes out on whatever HiDef DVD it's slated for, the agents at the end will be carrying walkie-talkies instead of guns. I know times have changed since the 80's, but isn't this a bit ridiculous? Why are we removing the fear factor?

Going back further, let's take a little look at Cinderella. Have you read the Brothers Grimm version of the story? Or are you relying on Disney to tell it?

The Brothers Grimm did not give Cinderella a Fairy Godmother. What Cinderella had was a dead mother, buried in the graveyard. Cinderella planted a rose bush on her mother's grave, and a songbird took up residence there. There were three Balls at the Palace, and Cinderella had a different gown for each, provided by the spirit of her dead mother, through the magic bird. And, when the Prince was schlepping the slipper around, Stepsister #1 cut off her toe to make the shoe fit. Prince didn't notice this until he was riding past the grave, and the bird sang out that there was a trail of blood. At that point, he turned around and took her back. Stepsister #2 cut off her heel, and the same sequence of events ensued. Just how the Prince could mistake not one, but two Ugly Stepsisters for the petite and beautiful Cinderella remains a mystery to this day.

The point is that, back in the day when the Brothers Grimm were collecting stories and writing them down, life was harsh. Many children didn't survive to adulthood, and those that did figured that they had accomplished something. Death was a part of life, and nobody grew up without losing somebody close to them. It was expected. Nobody had pets. Animals were either workers, in the case of dogs, or food.

We have become such a kind and gentle society. We lavish affection and money on children and pet pigs. We confine death and illness to special houses. Few of us even bear children in our own homes, let alone die there.

We hide the blood, the pain, the dirt, the disease, and pretend it doesn't exist.

Our kind and gentle civilization is a very thin veneer. The howling, chaotic, smelly thing that is Real Life lurks just below, waiting to burst through. We are kept very busy spackling over all the cracks.

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