Fairy Tales 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Python Parody


I find this interpretation absolutely hilarious because it doesn't take itself seriously. There's no "seduction" of Red Riding Hood as there are in many versions of the tale; the "wolf" doesn't even look like a threat to anyone, especially a 6 foot- something tall "girl" who's so weak she rips apart turkey legs while stomping through the dark forest and breaks logs over her thigh. Like the clip in class, the narration does not follow the action, except for the bit about NASA and Buzz Aldrin.
Old Granny doesn't die; she's not even in the cottage. The only reason the wolf dies is because "security shot him." This takes the interpretation to a new level because it makes fun of itself. A modern audience doesn't necessarily believe a girl would be as dumb as the traditional story makes Little Red out to be: a wolf looks very different than an old woman, especially one we can assume she's quite familiar with. Instead of simply going with the fairy tale canon, Monty Python makes LRRH a strong "woman" who can definitely take care of a dachsund-like "wolf." It's just ridiculous on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Little Red Riding Hood

This video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZVBZTS2ntk&feature=related is interesting for several reasons. First, it is a sarcastic interpretation of the classic story that places the girl in a position to mock the wolf. Little Red Riding Hood is portrayed as a modern teenager with an iPod and the "superhuman strength of ten giant retards." When she sees the wolf in her grandmother's bed she mutters, "Give me an effin' break" and proceeds to subdue the wolf with her superstrength. In this story, the girl is heroic and cunning, whereas the wolf is seen as foolish and weak. Secondly, the punishment Little Red Riding Hood inflicts on the wolf reflects a macabre awareness on the girl's part of sexuality and the wolf's potential as a sexual predetor. She has him taken to the village veterinarian and castrated violently. At one point she flicks a piece of his scrotum off of her red hood, which is a very striking image symbolically. Little Red Riding Hood's immediate reaction to her power over the wolf is to take away his sexual potential and render him impotent. He is no longer a threat after being castrated, even though the beginning of the story never shows any signs that he was a sexual threat to begin with.
Finally, the characterization of adults and children in the story shows a lack of respect for adults. The three adult characters: the grandmother, the vet, and the wolf, are all portrayed in a negative light. The grandmother's only role is to get eaten, and at the end of the story the narrator laughs that the story ends happily for everyone except her...beacuse she was eaten. There is no huntsman that comes to rescue her. She is not redeemed in any way and dies having done absolutely nothing note worthy. The wolf can be considered an "adult" character because of his predatorial status. Unfortunately for him, he is easily overpowered by Little Red Riding Hood and visciously neutered. Not only is he portrayed as stupid and arrogant, he has his "manhood" taken away as well. The veterinarian moonlights as the village idiot. The narrator notes after the messy castration that he really is a better village idiot than a vet....poor wolf. The only non-adult character in the story is Little Red Riding Hood. She is portrayed as a teenager who is smarter, stronger, and all around more awesome than any of the other characters. In the Grimms version of the story, she is naive and innocent. She has to be rescued by a strapping male huntsman because she is too young and disobedient to keep herself safe. In the version I found, the child is the hero and the adults are the inadequate ones. This is probably due to the fact that the story is being retold by a teenager, in a time when teens, if not all children, are not quite so looked down upon by adults as naive or stupid.

Little Red Riding Hood

This rendition of Little Red Riding Hood is certainly a modern one, censored to an extreme degree in order to appease parents in not scaring their young children. One can immediately determine that the story has been modified in learning that the basket that Little Red Riding Hood brings to her grandmother is full of breads and cakes; no wine is to be found, ridding of any ideas of intoxication as well as any later references to bloodshed (or Little Red Riding Hood’s drinking of her grandmother’s blood). When the wolf appears for the first time, he is wearing human clothes, in order to demonstrate to modern children viewing the video why he may be attractive and deceptive. It is suggested that merely his hat and scarf disguise the wolf sufficiently.
During their first encounter in the woods, each time the wolf is shown in the same frame as Little Red Riding Hood, facing her and with his back to the viewer, he is a silhouette; entirely black, he is immediately portrayed as evil through this dark representation. But this is a gentle implication; despite the title the “wicked wolf,” this animal still has a gentle face.
Although the following scenes are more explicitly violent, it is in this latter part of the mini-movie that we see evidence of the creator’s effort to censor the original story. First of all, the wolf does not kill or even eat the grandmother (whole); instead he “bundles” her, connoting gentleness, not even harming her in any suffocating sort of way, and places her in the closet. Upon Little Red Riding Hood’s entering the house, reason is given to her confusion as we are told that the inside is dark; she is barely able to see, thus she is not unintelligent for not recognizing her grandmother. Nearly at the exact moment that the wolf exposes himself, the “wood-cutter” shows up at the door (note that he is not a hunter of any sort). Without any sort of warning, the wood-cutter is next referred to as “her father,” in order to reinforce the idea of familial unity and loyalty. This instantaneous appearance suggests that parents always stand behind their children and in fact have a sort of sixth sense that keeps them constantly in touch with the needs of their offspring and which intuitively triggers something in them whenever their children may be in danger. Thus, this rendition of Little Red Riding Hood is less a tale about the agency of children and their overcoming hardship, but instead one that strengthens the idea of the family unit, especially in times of despair, and reinforces the lesson of necessary obedience.

LRRH Commercial plays up Sexual themes

In class, we discussed the different elements of Perrault's characterization of Little Red Riding Hood and how these elements contributed to the image of Red Cap as a promiscuous, immoral character. We learned in this discussion that during Perrault's age, the color red was associated with these characteristics: that a woman who wore red was somehow not morally upright. Perrault's treatment of Red Cap is as such, he presents Little Red Riding Hood's death at the end as her own fault because of her curiosity and promiscuity. It is suggested that something takes place between Red Cap and the Wolf (while still maintaining that she believes it is "Grandmother" strangely enough) when she gets under the covers in his version.

The commercial I have uploaded certainly borrows from that depiction of Red Cap. The woman in question's hood is a burning-rose red color, which is played up with red lipstick and her short skirt to obviously create a seductive looking character. As Hood approaches the bed and finds her grandmother is really a wolf, it plays into the idea that Hood is initially but merely superficially shocked by the Wolf's appearance, and she quickly transitions to being interested in other things in this given situation. Clearly, only the Perrault version is referenced in this video, as in no other reading of the story is some sort of liaison suggested as in the commercial.

The commercial is for a brand of cologne called "Primal." In this way, the use of Little Red Riding Hood is loosely appropriate because of its involvement of the wolf. The music in the background provides an ironical theme to the whole scene, as it was likely designed for children's enjoyment, but takes on a very different connotation in light of the commercial. Lastly, the wolf taking the dummy head off and revealing a bearded hairy man fits directly with our discussion in class how the "Wolf" in the story fits a dual role as a literal animal and an outcast, uncivilized beast of a man.

LRRH Commercial

(I don't know how to embed a video so here is the link. It's not very long at all, only about half a minute.)

There were so many versions of Little Red Riding Hood on YouTube that it was hard to just choose one! However, I did find a pattern after searching around for a while. There were videos made for children, where the wolf doesn't look as scary, he doesn't end up eating the grandmother, he just shoves her in the closet, and where the entire video is just sing-song.
However, more often than not, modern re-interpretations of LRRH depict her as a symbol of seduction. In this video I posted, there is a song about Little Red Riding Hood by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, that is found in a lot of other videos. Usually this song is accompanied by a sexual video. In the commercial for this perfume, LRRH is not a child and she is dressed like a hooker. Or rather like a slutty halloween costume. She enters the cottage and immediately begins to climb onto the bed as if she knows what is waiting. A wolf mask pops out of bed, but instead of being frightened, Little Red smiles at him, she climbs onto bed, and the mask is taken off to reveal a man underneath.
What does this say about our culture, that we continually portray Little Red Riding Hood so sexually? She is no longer an innocent girl who wanders into the forest to her grandmother, but purposefully goes in search of the wolf to fulfill her sexual desires.
The line at the end of the commercial is selling a perfume, and it says "Get Primal."
This is a complete turnaround from any version told of LRRH. The Grimms and Perrault got rid of some of the more erotic elements, but earlier versions were chock-full of sexual innuendos. However, the girl was always a child physically, and her motive for heading into the woods was to go to her grandmother's house, not to have sex with a wolf. I feel like the figure of the grandmother has been discarded so that newer stories focus on the wolf and Little Red Riding Hood, and their primal desires.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Strange Twist on Red Riding Hood

I thought this was a very interesting spin on the story. The changes take away the moral of the story, and just make it...strange. The wolf uses the "What beautiful eyes you have.." on the Grandma. Then, they both hide and run away from Little Red Riding Hood, who goes back home to tell her mother. So, the mother comes and chases the wolf away.

The focus of the story is shifted away from Red Riding Hood, but it also changes the view of gender roles from other versions of the story, where girls are either disobedient, stupid, or innocent victims of male predators. Here, there's not really a clear stereotype of women... except maybe that they can do whatever they want. And the wolf, instead of being a vicious predator, is enthralled by the young grandmother's beauty.

So, this is a rather strange rendition of the story that changes the plot as well as the gender stereotypes in such a way that it now lacks a coherent message or moral. And it doesn't really end happily either.

Anyone else have thoughts on this one?

Sexualizing Little Red Riding Hood - A Video

This was one of the first videos I found on YouTube when searching "Little Red Riding Hood". I think it's absolutely bizarre. Created in 2007, this video blatantly sexualizes Little Red Riding Hood. Not only does it portray a vengeful, violent little girl, but it also proposes that the means for her to get her revenge is through selling her body with a striptease.

The strange masquerade is another thing to note. As a lamb, Little Red Riding Hood stays true to some of the fairy tale scholars' beliefs that these stories represent a male vs. female gender dynamic. Lambs are symbols then of the female while wolves are symbols of the male. Yet what makes the sexual relationship between the wolves and the lamb particularly questionable, aside from the fact that she's in reality a little girl who is stripteasing, is that it alludes to interspecies breeding and attraction.

Most of the attention of the video is given to the lamb's initial appearance and striptease. There's no getting lost in the woods. There's only this premeditated revenge plot to rescue the grandmother from the wolf by assuming a different identity (an allusion perhaps to the wolf stealing grandma's identity) and exploiting that identity's sexuality.

Although I'm a bit creeped out by the video, I am, at the same time, supportive that it gives Little Red Riding Hood complete agency and power in her relationship to the wolf and the situation. In this version, there's no hunter to save the day as in the Grimms', but Little Red Riding Hood must save herself.