Sunday, February 24, 2013

Splinter & Knothead - Red Riding Hoodlum

This cartoon of Little Red Riding Hood is actually titled "Red Riding Hoodlum", the Woody Woodpecker version of the classic fairy tale. Instead of having a single little girl be the main focus of the story, we have Splinter and Knothead, the two red-headed niece/nephew's of Woody Woodpecker. They set off for Grandma Woodpecker's house where they encounter a wolf, and have a conversation with him. Instead of telling the wolf where they are going, the wolf automatically takes a shortcut to try and beat the two kids, but instead the 2 children end realize the similarity between their situation and Little Red Riding Hood, and take an even shorter shortcut to Grandmothers. They then run into a few other classic fairy tale characters (a very important National Fire Safety bear along the way), and get to grandma's house before the wolf does. Once the wolf arrives, they do all manner of things to get rid of him, but in the end, granny becomes aware of what is going on and actually marries the wolf! There were a lot of references to other fairy tales in this cartoon, possibly to help make connections between the good and bad sides of what the readers are supposed to be focusing on. But back to Little Red Riding Hood, the main difference between this cartoon and the various versions from out book, is the fact that Splinter & Knothead had a warning about the wolf trying to eat granny by reading Little Red Riding Hood. When children are well informed, dangers can be prevented and nothing bad will happen to them. With Smokey the Bear appearing every so often, I assume that they were trying to give kids subtle hints at fire safety and how even bad guys should be safe about using dangerous things. If kids become informed about how fire is a dangerous thing, they will be less likely to use fire in the future. As for the ending of the cartoon, Grandmother Woodpecker marrying the Wolf could go along with a few of the theories that Bettleheim talks about in the Little Red Riding Hood chapter, about the grandmother being a more experienced person than Little Red is.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Children as Heroes

Children are often seen as the underdogs in life. They are younger, smaller, weaker than adults and therefore are less experienced.This however, is very untrue in many fairy tales, which portray children as the heroes of the story. For example, the well known story of Hansel and Gretel. The two children are left in the woods alone by their parents due to not being able to feed everyone in the family with what food they had. They make their way back after Hansel using his intelligence to leave a trail of small white stones. After they return home, their parents then use the same abandonment technique. The children wander all night until the come upon a house made of gingerbread and are welcomed by an old lady who feeds them and give then the care they need. This old lady however is actually a cannibal witch, who imprisons Hansel in attempt to fatten him up to eat him; Gretel is made to clean the house and various other chores. The children devise a plan to fool the witch and in the end, the witch is thrown into her own oven by Gretel and the 2 children escape home with jewels that they took from the witch's house. The children are now heroes to themselves for getting away from the witch safely but also heroes to their remaining family because of the jewels that they returned home with. In a different story, Pippety Pew, the father brings home a hare for a stew, that the mother accidentally eats. The mother then kills the son, puts him in a stew that the father eats, and the little sister buries the bones under a stone by the front door. The son transforms into a bird which then goes to 2 women washing clothes, and obtains the clothes by singing a song to the women twice. He also gets a lot of silver and a millstone using the same method, from a man and a miller grinding corn. He returns to the house to give the clothes to his sister, the coins to his father, and kills his mother with the millstone. The son is the hero because he has eliminated the villain in the story in exchange for making the lives of the rest of his family better.
From a psychological point of view, both stories show how the children are overcoming a Oedipal complex that they have to gain their independence from their attachments to their mothers. We can see this in Hansel because of the way that he plots against the witch, who sort of symbolizes a mother in the aspect that she fed them and sheltered them. In the end, the witch is killed and the mother back home has passed on (coincidentally as the same time as the witch). The children have successfully severed their attachment to a  motherly figure and also from each other. In Pippety Pew, the severance of the motherly attachment is obviously when Pippety Pew drops the millstone on his mothers head, ending her life. Another psychoanalytical idea is the id, ego, and superego of the children. In Hansel & Gretel, the id is represented by gluttony and the children immediately eating the gingerbread house when they come across it. The superego is said to be a variety of things, but I believe it to be the father because he is reluctant to leave his children out in the woods but he does so anyway. The ego in this story is the children bringing back the jewels to their surviving family members to help them live better lives. In Pippety Pew, the id the the mothers selfish need to avoid blame for eating all the hare in the stew and killing her son to make up for it. The ego is the son as a bird, giving his father the coins and the daughter the clothes, while the superego would be the younger sister of Pippety Pew burying his bones under the stone by the door.
Even though some children are said to be inferior in some situations, there are instances where they are actually stronger than the adults that are around them. In some cases where a parent cannot support their children anymore, they chose to leave them somewhere instead of doing all they can to help their children have a good life, even at the cost of not having a good life themselves. Some children have the ability to create happiness out of nothing, and chose to work on bettering their lives instead of just letting their parents abandon them. They can mature and grow up quickly which makes them the heroes of their own stories as well.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Definitions of Fairy Tales

When most people think "fairy tale", their minds immediately go to the stories that they were read when they were younger. Most people think this is really the only definition of a fairy tale, when it is actually a bunch of different ideas and interpretations all rolled into one. Fairy tales can actually be for anyone of any age, not just a toddler who likes hearing about prices and princesses. A child can often take out of a fairy tale what they want to hear and relate to it. But the same thing can also be true to an older individual who hears a different version of a fairy tale from a different culture. These interpretations that they create can also be a way to shape the reader's personality and/or morals in life. All fairy tales have a villain/hero, good/bad aspect to them. These conditions of the story sort of define the meanings of fairy tales to the audience and can differentiate a myth/legend/fairy tale from other stories. A child's fairy tale often ends with "And they lived happily ever after", with a scene of the prince and princess riding away into the sunset or getting married or something along those lines. These versions are often written like they are to be suitable for young children to watch/read. They way that most fairy tales were ended in the old times were often of the hero/heroine dying or something terrible happening to them as a result of their actions. Not everything is a happily ever after scene. I get the feeling that the writers of the original fairy tales wanted the stories to be fantasy with a touch of reality, because nothing in reality can really be as perfect as some fairy tales try to make it. They just created archetypes to give some sort of symbolism to certain things that readers could relate to. So in the end, a fairy tale is a story that is full of lessons to be learned for an audience of any age/culture to connect to and model themselves after.