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OK children, bedtime! I’m going to help you go to sleep by telling you a wonderful love story.
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young princess who lived in a beautiful castle. Her parents were captured by an evil witch who gutted them like fish and then ate their livers and hearts.
Oh, and her brothers were all killed too. Horribly. Yeah, lots of pain. Um, you sleepy yet?
What is it with children’s stories? The families are always dysfunctional or dead. I can still remember how I felt when Bambi’s mother died. As luck would happen, my uncle had just returned from a hunting trip the week before with his quota of deer.
There seems to be an endless choice of tragedies and miseries for children to enjoy. Let’s start with some classics.
Cinderella is a charming story of love and acceptance. Her parents are dead at the beginning of the movie. She’s mentally and physically abused by her step sisters and step mother. Cinderella is beloved by all animals except for the family cat, Lucifer, who delights in tormenting her.
Next we have Sleeping Beauty. A wicked fairy (ugly of course) curses a baby princess to death. Another fairy saves her by making her sleep for a hundred years. A prince comes along, sexually assaults the sleeping princess, and she wakes up. Then his step mother (evil of course) tries to kill her.
And then there’s Snow White. Her jealous step-mother (go figure, eh?) sends her into the forest to be killed. The huntsman allows Snow White to escape and brings the Queen the lungs and liver of a wild animal (which the Queen eats with delight). Snow White ends up in a dwarf commune and is allowed to stay as long as she does all the housework and cooking for them. After several more attempts to kill her, the Queen tricks Snow White into eating a poisoned apple. She dies (or so everyone thinks).
A prince who’s into necrophilia comes along and kisses the dead princess. She awakens. Then they kill the Queen.
I do enjoy love stories.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Where’s the mother? Well, given that it’s a kiddie movie, she must be dead.
Harry Potter. It begins with his parents getting killed. Then he’s left with his aunt and uncle who hate and abuse him for over a decade.
Grave of the Fireflies. A truly delightful movie about a young boy and his little sister struggling to survive in Japan during WWII. This one is a must see for every first grader.
The Lion King. The evil uncle kills his brother and then blames the son for the murder.
In James and the Giant Peach, a four year old boy’s parents are killed and eaten by a rhinoceros. He then lives with two cruel aunts who abuse him with frequent beatings and isolating him from any friends. He grows a giant peach, it breaks off the tree and crushes his aunts.
The story goes downhill from there.
The Land Before Time. The little dinosaur’s mother gets killed rather early in the movie, but hey, she’s a dinosaur. They were all going extinct anyway, so no great loss, right?
The Secret Garden. A 10-year-old girl’s parents die from a cholera epidemic. She is sent to live with her abusive uncle (I presume the aunt died some horrible death too). Her only friend is a maidservant, Martha Sowerby. Of course, Martha dies too.
The rest of the story is pretty boring. Not enough people dying.
Where The Wild Things Are. A dysfunctional family, a neglectful mother, a runaway kid, and a group of psychotic animals. And those are the best things about the movie.
Perhaps we should revamp movie ratings. G for gruesome? PG for pretty grisly? PG-13 doesn’t seem to do it anymore. Maybe we need a PG-85?
Well, I just finished reading “The Juniper Tree” to the children. A wicked stepmother cuts the head off a child, cooks his body, and then feeds it to his father. I just don’t understand why I can’t get these kids to go to sleep!