Source Material: Getting From Point A to Point B

In honor of Gnomeo and Juliet, I thought I’d offer my readers a little retrospective. See, kid’s movies are a funny thing. Sure, on the surface they’re sweet and innocent, but by now, almost everybody knows about the other side. Most people know the “SEX” dust from The Lion King or the castle boner on The Little Mermaid cover art. But forget all those. I mean, sure, they’re kinda traumatizing considering that’s my childhood right there. besides, imagine the mind-numbing boredom that is working at Disney animating cells by hand and I’d probably be pretty tempted to throw in some dirty jokes here and there too.

But we’re seein’ a pretty big change in the way that kid’s view movies these days. Now, we have stuff like Gnomeo and Juliet. Now, I have a couple of complaints here so you folks are gonna have to bear with me. One, congratulations Jason Statham, but don’t expect to get asked to do Shakespeare ever again. Two, Shakespeare probably thought he had it bad with Baz Luhrmann, but then this happened. And finally, are we really pushing a product to our kids where the two protagonists end up killing themselves? Yeah, we’re not talkin’ victim of circumstance in the wrong place at the wrong time. They made an active choice to kill themselves. I mean, I hate to be that guy, but can garden gnomes even kill themselves?

In short, Gnomeo and Juliet features a boatload of material that one might worry about presenting their kids with, but eh, it’s a quick buck and I’m pretty sure most parents will do anything to get their kids out of the house. But I’d be kidding myself if I said that Gnomeo and Juliet was the first movie to capitalize on an inappropriate source text.

Another great example would be one of Disney’s earlier works, Cinderella. Now, Disney is famous for “tidying up” the unmentionables in their fairy tales. After all, the Grimm brothers could be, well… quite grim. But just to give audiences an idea of what to expect from the original Cinderella, voluntary cutting off of toes and parts of the step sister’s heels in order to fit into the glass slipper, which promptly fills up with blood, is one of the Grimm brothers way of handling things. Shocking that it didn’t make the final cut into Disney’s version, right?

But fairy tales have always been ripe for the picking. Think about how easy it is to manipulate or change their meaning into something else? I mean, seriously, it’s like the perfect set up. One of the “adaptations” that I’m most excited about is Catherine Hardwicke’s take on Little Red Riding Hood. See, Hardwicke, probably trying to cleanse her name of the stench of the Twilight franchise, decided to go in a totally different direction from those movies. Oh wait, her movie, Red Riding Hood is about a werewolf? Yeah, evidently she hasn’t learned her lesson.

What’s even funnier is that I’m not entirely sure where Hardwicke’s getting her material from… True, Little Red Riding Hood features a wolf and a girl, but the similarities pretty much end there. See, I’ve talked about this before, but for newer readers, I’ll refresh. Red Riding Hood is often read as a story about a young girl coming into womanhood. The wolf stands in for the predatory advances of men, so I think we can all get from point A to point B. Then, where does Hardwicke get a werewolf?

Fact of the matter is, I’m not sure I’ll ever understand what people take away from their source material. I mean for the most part I’m pretty sure it’s unadulterated capitalism at its most depraved, but there’s gotta be something else, right? At least I’m hoping there’s something more to it… but I should know better than that, shouldn’t I?


4 thoughts on “Source Material: Getting From Point A to Point B

  1. You said that showing kids the story of Romeo and Juliette isn’t a good idea. Why? Well because you believe that it’s wrong to show kids what happens at the end of the story. I don’t mean to be a critic here; I’m just stating my point of view: we don’t live in a world of “sugar and spice and everything nice”, kids are going to have two know these things one day. And sometimes stories like Romeo and Juliette have important life lessons that are important to learn. It’s kind of like “the talk” when a child is going through puberty, some think young kids shouldn’t know about this stuff until they’re older, but they’re going to have to find out sometime. Your better off getting them comfortable with talking about puberty and talking about their emotions, because when you tell them these things too late, they become too shy to ask important questions about the subject. Anyways, if we put that aside, I truly liked your article, so keep up the good work.

    • I’m glad you liked it!
      If I may respond to your claim though, I think my main issue is that, with Hollywood telling the story, it’s not the crucial discussion that needs to be had.
      I agree, we do not live in a very pleasant world. In fact, the world is what we make of it and so far, we haven’t done a great job.
      I also ABSOLUTELY agree that these are issues that people need to be willing to discuss with their children.
      What I was saying with this piece, and I may not have said it very well, is that these are PERSONAL decisions, not decisions that should be mass marketed at large and in 3D haha
      The fact of the matter is too many parents would use the story of Romeo and Juliet on the bigscreen to avoid having that talk with their kids at home.
      “Oh don’t worry about it, the movie execs will teach them that little life lesson”
      But I agree with the points you laid out and appreciate your reading and talking the time to discuss!

  2. I hate to break this to you but all of this “sex dust and penis castle” garbage are simply mistakes made by the artists. No one in Disney was like “hey wouldn’t it be funny if I stuck a penis on this castle here?”
    There are these videos on YouTube where a song is played with captions that are fake lyrics, and it sounds like they are actually saying these ridiculous things that they obviously aren’t.
    This is the same idea but with your sense of sight not hearing.

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