Fairy Tales 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Looney Tunes Does It Right

First off, in this version, Little Red Riding Hood is annoying. Like goofy glasses and bad haircut annoying. From the start, I wouldn't mind if she got eaten and that's obviously the intent of the animators. Listen to that singing voice. It's so grating This is no cute angel in need of being protected from a wolf (representing that evil seducer that's come to take her innocence)

The wolf is still a dastardly fellow. Look at him switch that sign! Good thing Grandma isn't home. In this version, she's off working the swing shift instead of being prone in bed.

Then in a hilarious jab at all the different versions of the story, the wolf kicks three (no, wait...four!) other wolves at the bed. Similarly, when Little Red Riding Hood tries to start her "What big eyes, what big nose" speech, the wolf chases her out saying "Yeah, yeah, yeah." He's heard it all before and so have we.

Cue typically Looney Tunes physical comedy, which results in the wolf being unmasked and then being precariously perched above burning embers. However, annoying Little Red Riding Hood comes back one more time and now Bugs is FED UP!

The final shot is him and the wolf, arm in arm, while Little Red Riding Hood finds herself in the wolf's previous position--dangerously hovering above burning coals. We are told to enjoy the wolf's cunning, just as we enjoy Bug's. The annoying girl gets put in her place. Too funny.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Little Red Riding Hood" for Babies & Toddlers

While searching for a suitable “Little Red Riding Hood” video on YouTube, I happened to stumble upon one by Oxbridge Baby, written “specifically for babies and toddlers.” I thought this was a particularly interesting selection, and so I watched the short animated video to see what their version of the classic tale would be. The tale turns out to be an even more “cleaned up” version of the tale told by the Brothers Grimm.

In this version, Little Red Riding Hood wears a red cloak with a hood and, as a result, is called by how she dresses. (There is no explanation of why nor how she got her hood.) One day, Mother decides to send Little Red Riding Hood to Grandmother’s to take her some cakes. She gives her specific, moralistic instructions (like in the Bros. Grimm’s tale) before Little Red Riding Hood departs. Although the young girl was told not to stray and pick flowers, she does anyway, and a Wolf suddenly appears beside her. She tells him of her plans to see her Grandmother in the forest, and he dupes her into a deliberate race to Grandmother's house. The Wolf arrives first and gobbles up Grandmother in one swallow. He puts on Grandmother’s nightgown, her cap, and some of her perfume (“for good measure”), and then takes her place in bed. When Little Red Riding Hood arrives, she asks the Wolf the usual questions, and then she realizes he is not actually Grandmother and dashes away (without stripping, getting into bed, nor further interrogation). A Woodsman comes along, saves Little Red Riding Hood, and turns the Wolf upside down until he releases Grandmother. Afterward, the Woodsman takes the Wolf into the woods so he cannot harm anyone else ever again. At the end, Grandmother and Little Red Riding Hood have their overdue picnic with the cakes. The end.

• No wine nor milk taken to Grandmother
• No specified paths of pins nor needles; instead, a deliberate race
• Little Red Riding Hood has to tell the wolf where Grandmother lives
• Little Red Riding Hood never gets into bed with the Wolf
• The hunter is now a woodsman
• No one dies – not even Grandmother!

This version of the tale actually blames no one but the Wolf for the narrative conflict. Little Red is (somehow) absolved of all blame usually placed on her in "moral" versions of the tale, even though she does not obey her Mother’s orders to the letter. The tale also reinforces the sense of patriarchal order established in the Bros. Grimm tale by permitting the woodsman to save the day (again). Also, both Little Red Riding Hood and Grandmother survive in the end (true in the Bros. Grimm tale, but nowhere else).

In the end, this particular video follows the Bros. Grimm tale, but “cleans it up” even more so than the Grimms did. In addition, although this particular video emphasizes the moral side of educating the young child, it never persists in teaching the child a lesson from her mistakes; instead, it places all blame on the insidious Wolf.

And then granma eloped with the wolf

I give you this rendition to view. It's worth the 7 minutes, promise:

I'm more or less positive that I saw this growing up. It looks somewhat like your classic Looney Tunes animation, with the exaggeration in the characters and the ways their bodies can stretch and move. It deviates quite a bit from the Grimms' "Little Red Riding Hood" and the "Story of Grandmother," but there is something in common with the video we watched in class today, and that is the addition of what I think is some female agency into the plot.

Our story begins with LRRH trotting along toward "granma" (a nice childish spelling), who is being taken care of by a doctor (new character). This is where most of the magic comes into play. The doctor gives granma a special medicine that makes her heart feel lots better. She accidentally spills a drop onto her slipper, which turns into a high heel. At this moment, granma realizes the powers of this drug and pours the whole bottle on her, turning herself into a Minnie Mouse-looking woman.

The wolf meets LRRH in the forest, beats her to granma's (LRRH gets sidetracked picking flowers, similar to the path of needles in the "Story of Grandmother") but, in a twist, falls in love with granma instead. They dance together and have a grand old time until LRRH shows up. In a panic (like two teenagers about to be caught by their mother), granma jumps into the closet and the wolf jumps into bed (similarity - the wolf has to get in bed with granma's clothes somehow). Then he tosses the sheet onto LRRH, and he and granma escape in his wolf car to go to a church to get married. LRRH runs home to her mother, who, with a herd of children, goes to the church to stop granma from marrying the wolf. They're too late (blah blah blah, "I do," blah blah blah, "I do"), but the mother chases the wolf out the door and pounds him with her rolling pin until he runs away. Granma cries, LRRH suddenly SOBS, along with the minister, but then they all smile and say, "And that's the story of LRRH!!"

I'm left in some confusion at this point.

I have found several similarities with other renditions we've looked at. As I said, the female agency in this video is similar to what we saw in class today. LRRH took the agency in that strip tease, and granma does a similar thing here. The wolf is bewitched by female beauty and loses sight of his goal of devouring humans where there is a pretty young girl in the room. I'm not sure that's a very affirming message to women: it's not your brains that will get you out of the situation, it's your good looks that will captivate your attacker.

When the wolf walks in the room, he tells granma, "What beautiful eyes you have!" This is a reference, I think, to the traditional, "Grandma, what big eyes you have!"

The dancing I can't really explain, other than the story ends badly for the dancers. I can't explain the ending much at all. I guess granma runs away with the wolf because she's all alone and she feels empowered by her new health and good looks. She's sad because she doesn't get to marry anyone (her daughter plays the role of the mother - I think that's key), but I'm not sure why LRRH cries so much more than granma at the end. I'm not really sure why anyone is crying, frankly, but LRRH has literally oceans of water pouring out of her eyes. Maybe she's scared? Maybe she's sad because she wanted her granma to be happy and her granma is crying? I can't make much sense of the ending, or why it's a LRRH story. Other than the basic characters (wolf, sick grandmother, LRRH) and the initial plot line of LRRH going to visit her sick grandma, the story isn't similar at all.

Kick-Ass Riding Hood

This version of Little Red Riding Hood is a modern twist of the classic version. It has a youthful, smart-aleck tone of today’s youth generation in which we tend to think we know everything and possess all of the knowledge to overcome any obstacle. An independent woman is one of the more acceptable norms of today’s society compared to the times these stories were originally written. Instead of a helpless, clueless, somewhat of an idiot little girl, we are now presented with a girl who is already two steps ahead of the game and possesses a no-nonsense type of attitude. I much prefer this version as the wolf is completely dominated by the young girl who seems unafraid of anything, and I would much prefer this version to be circulated to youngsters today (despite the cursing, and references to the mentally ill) as it promotes a much stronger sense of self.

Little Red (Bull) Riding Hood


This is the link to a commercial Red Bull has been playing on TV recently. I couldn't find an English version of it on YouTube, but assuming you are not fluent in Italian, here is the transcription of what I remember from the commercial.

Little Red Riding Hood comes in and says hello to her grandmother, who is sitting comfortably at home with surrounded by her wolf-skin rugs and wolf heads hung on the ceiling. The two talk before deciding to go bag another wolf with the help of none other than Red Bull.

Red Bull commercials have been known to take popular icons (I can think of the Three Little Pigs and Sherlock Holmes off the top of my head), and spin the story to make Red Bull a vital part of the mythology. In this case, the wolves are the victims of the granny and Red Riding Hood because of Red Bull. A lot of the versions we have read of this story have differed on how in control LRRH/granny were, but the wolf has generally been the predator. With the exception of the film we watched today in class, this has been the Red Bull version is relatively unique in making LRRH the one in control. Then of course, there is the commercial spin that with Red Bull, you can overcome your own big, bad wolf. I would say I enjoy Red Bull commercials as a whole, so it's nice to see that this commercial perfectly coincided with the Red Riding Hood week for this class.

A Not So "Little" Red Riding Hood

Here's the url just incase the above isn't working:

The above is a link to a Little Red Riding Hood clip I found on you tube. The clip is very short but uses the symbolism of the narrative without telling the whole story. The first shot shows a girl walking in the forest with the tradition red tunic, white tights, and mary-jane flats. She is presented as a young, innocent girl- but that quickly shifts. Just before she enters the “grandmother’s” house we see that she is in fact a beautiful, made up young adult. Her lips are bright red and highly sexualized. As she enters the house, she turns around and scans the area. To me it seems like she is making sure she was not followed, or no one saw her enter the home. The music is playful and upbeat, it gives no indication that she is in any danger. The line that caught my attention in the song played as she approaches the bed, “you’re everything a big bad wolf would want.” Want how? Everything he would want to eat? Or everything he would want sexually? That question is quickly answered as she takes off her hood and slowly moves her hand along the bed to the figure lying in it. Suddenly, a wolf pops up and scares her, yet her expression quickly changes to a pleased even seductive gaze. She then removes her red tunic to reveal a skimpy dress and crawls onto the bed with the wolf- whose lower body we can see is a man’s. The wolf takes of his make to reveal a man, and the two fall into bed together and the scene closes. The end caption includes the phrase, “get primal.”

I love how this version of the tale speaks more to the clip we saw in class today than the story most of us grew up with. It shows her not as a naive lost child, but a sexual being who seeks out the wolf, who is happy to receive her. The caption at the end seems to refer to her more than the wolf. The animal is already primal, thus it is an invitation for this female to give into her desires. The removal of the wolf mask indicates that man and animal are one in the same.

I think that the best part of the clip is the song in the background. It replaces the narration setting her up as sexual, and then ending with “I don’t think little big girls should, go walking in the spooky old woods alone.” It acknowledges the theme or moral of the story, but then the singer’s howl at the end undermines it as if he is enjoying the sexualized, fantasy [not so] little red riding hood.

Little Red Riding Hood and...perfume?

The ad for Chanel No. 5 definitely plays on the sexuality and eroticism of the classic “Little Red Riding Hood” tales. The commercial begins with an image of a beautiful young woman clad in a silk red dress, walking down the length of a hallway. We can infer, from her erratic, confused movements and the wide-eyed expression on her face, that the girl is na├»ve, frightened, and vulnerable. Ill-equipped to venture out alone into the dangerous, uncertain urban forest that is Paris, she requires some sort of magical token to offer safety and protection.

And then—voila!—the young Parisian woman stumbles upon a rich trove of Chanel No. 5 perfume bottles, aligned in a brilliant, glowing array that stretches all the way to the ceiling. Enchanted, the maiden grasps a bottle in her hand, and a smug, almost mischievous look flits across her face. In the background, we see a forbidding shadow—the wolf, lurking in the background, waiting to pounce. Armed with the perfume, however, the woman is invincible: she fastens on her red cape and boldly swings open the door, to the magnificent sight of Paris sprawling before her. Then, with a coy smirk, Little Red Riding Hood looks back at the expectant wolf and seductively shushes him before walking out the door. As if by command, the animal submissively sits down and, with an air of defeat, watches Little Red Riding Hood disappear into the night. The ad closes with the wolf omitting a despondent, forlorn howl.

In the advertisement, Chanel No. 5 is dramatized as a sort of magical elixir that confers protection against “big, bad wolves.” In other words, if a young lady wears this scent, she will be immune to seduction and temptation. She will be able to tackle the dangerous realm of the “forest”—the modern city—without succumbing to the advances of the “wolf”—predatory men.

The commercial subverts the original Little Red Riding Hood trajectory. In this version, Little Red Riding Hood is not a submissive, meek little girl who blindly follows the wolf’s commands. Rather, we see a strong, sensual seductress who is in control of her situation. In the end, she expertly triumphs over the wolf, silencing him to submission like an innocent pet dog.

Overall, I think the ad successfully exploits a popular fairy tale to sell a product. Playing on the inherent eroticism of the classic Little Red Riding Hood tales, the ad suggests that Chanel No. 5 will empower women to be strong and independent and to navigate the uncertainties of the modern world, warding off any “wolves” they may encounter on their way.


"Little Rural Riding Hood"

The title of this particular version, “Little Rural Riding Hood”, really intrigued me. The focus of this particular Red Riding Hood story is not remaining true to the fairy tale itself, but is to show a stark contrast between rural and urban areas.

It opens with a stereotypical country bumpkin Little Riding Hood, who has a thick Southern accent, poor grammar, buck teeth, and is not wearing shoes to cover her big feet. After we are introduced to the tall and lanky rural riding hood, we meet the wolf at grandmother’s farm. He is already in the grandmother’s bed, wearing overalls and a bonnet of course, and he explains that he is supposed to eat the girl, but he refuses to do that. Instead, he eagerly says that he will catch her and then hug and kiss her. The rural wolf is like a Goofy figure that is silly, dumb, and eager to meet the girl. After the wolf chases the rural riding hood around the house for a while, he receives a letter from his cousin living in the city. His cousin, who is more sophisticated and cosmopolitan, tells the rural wolf to come to the city to meet a real woman. The cousin will teach the ignorant wolf how to treat women and live in the city. The urban riding hood is a singer at a nightclub, who sings the Andrews’ Sisters “Oh Johnny Oh” song with the words changed to be about the wolf.

In the end, the cousin says city life is too much for the rural wolf so he takes the wolf back to his home in the country. However, little rural riding hood is still there waiting for the rural wolf, and the urban wolf immediately falls in love with her. The roles of the wolves are then reversed, and rural wolf says the country life is too much for the city wolf so he takes him back to the city.

Some interesting observations:

-Instead of one wolf and one girl, there are two wolves and two girls.

-The grandmother is left completely out of the story.

-The wolf does not desire to kill the girl, but instead has a weird, almost childlike attraction to her.

-Only the rural riding hood wears red, but both girls have red hair.

-This may be a stretch, but the urban riding hood seemed almost like a Marilyn Monroe figure, while the rural riding hood was like an unattractive Daisy Duke.

This version seems to be a social commentary that simply perpetuates the stereotypes of rural life and the types of people it attracts. It is an entirely new and different take on the traditional “Little Red Riding Hood” story that we all know so well.