Saturday, January 22, 2011

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: A Review

A fellow blogger Izgad brought to my attention James Finn Garner's Politically Correct Bedtime Stories. I bought this great book on Kindle yesterday and laughed until I almost howled. I know the book was published quite a while ago and I'm really late to any discussion of it. So I'm just going to share some of my favorite quotes from this hilarious little collection.

Here is the beginning of the very first story in the collection. If you don't think this is hysterically funny, I have no idea how that's possible:

There once was a young person named Red Riding Hood who lived with her mother on the edge of a large wood. One day her mother asked her to take a basket of fresh fruit and mineral water to her grandmother's house--not because this was womyn's work, mind you, but because the deed was generous and helped engender a feeling of community. Furthermore, her grandmother was not sick, but rather was in full physical and mental health and was fully capable of taking care of herself as a mature adult.

Unfortunately, there are some hapless academics who pontificate to their students in this manner, which is sad and deadening to any critical capacities the students might possess. I have written before about the pseudo-liberals' attempts at castrating language, so I won't repeat myself.
I have also been guilty of writing in a way similar to the one that is being parodied in the following priceless retelling of the story of Three Little Pigs:
"At the house of sticks, the wolf again banged on the door and shouted, "Little, pigs, little pigs, let me in!" The pigs shouted back, "Go to hell, you carnivorous, imperialistic oppressor!"
Just compare it with a quote from this very heavy-handed review I wrote:

At the beginning of the series set in 1915, we see Maria, an illiterate day laborer who is a lover of a rich mill-owner and a mother of his illegitimate child. One day, the mill-owner and his buddies are making fun of Maria because of her marginalized social status.
At least, I caught myself in the process of adopting this weird, pseudo-progressive language and stopped in time. Many people, however, do it completely in earnest, which makes their writing sound extremely comical. What's even worse, they try to censor everybody who doesn't share their terror of language. As the example of my clumsy review demonstrates, such things might happen to all of us. Still, there are those who don't have the requisite sense of humor to understand the extreme silliness of any attempts to purge the language of half its vocabulary and literature from all of its "offensive" masterpieces.

The author ridicules not only the pseudo-liberal language purges but also the efforts to rewrite famous fairy-tales that have become even more common since the book was first published. This is how the tale of the three little pigs ends in this politically correct version:

Their next step was to liberate their homeland. They gathered together a band of other pigs who had been forced off their lands. This new brigade of porcinistas attacked the resort complex with machine guns and rocket launchers and slaughtered the cruel wolf oppressors, sending a clear signal to the rest of the hemisphere not to meddle in their internal affairs. Then the pigs set up a model socialist democracy with free education, universal health care and affordable housing for everyone.
It was especially disturbing to read Garner's retelling of the fairy-tale of Rapunzel. Last year, Disney released Tangled, a very weird retelling of the famous German tale. The fairy-tale enjoyed great popularity for centuries until Disney decided that it could be improved by injecting modern sensibilities into it. The result was considerably inferior to Garner's hilarious parody. Even then, there were pseudo-progressive bloggers who claimed the story was racist because the protagonist is blond. The arguments that this German story was created by German people many of whom are, indeed, blond were also rejected as racist. At the end of the discussion, I started feeling like my own blond hair was some kind of a racial slur.

Even though Garner's book was published a while ago, it still merits attention as a reminder of how far pseudo-liberals would go in order to distract our attention from the sad reality of how decidedly unprogressive their views actually are.

P.S. Last night my husband and I were discussing Politically Correct Bedtime Stories and laughing at the funny quotes. He reminded me of the review I quoted above and that was written in the same silly style and of how funny it was.

"But you still like my blog more than anybody else's?" I asked in jest. 

"Of course, I do," he said. "I'm completely monogamous even though all other lifestyle choices are perfectly acceptable, valid and worthy of respect and it would never occur to me to claim that my way of being is in any way or manner preferable to anybody else's and should be deemed superior to anybody's because that would be offensive, condescending and wrong."


Rimi said...

Your husband sounds quite wonderful :-)

I bought this book at the basement of our local (that's where all the books are kept). Actually, never having heard of the book, I had barely spared it a glance and moved on, but my partner practically jumped on it and pulled it out with an actual, honest-to-goodness victory cry. I got the implied subtext that this book must be read. So I bought it, for forty cents.

The forty cents made the book that bit extra delicious :-)

Clarissa said...

Thank you, Rimi! I like him too. :-)

Canukistani said...

Very good but you haven't talked about the scientific/technical version of little red riding hood.Maybe cultural anthropologists such as P. Saintyves saw the story in terms as naturally occurring cycles and Bruno Bettelheim, in The Uses of Enchantment, recast the Little Red Riding Hood motif in terms of classic Freudian analysis, (Wikipidia) but how about us scientific types? Check out this video.

Izgad said...

You might also get a laugh out of Barbara Walker’s Feminist Fairy Tales
It is a lot like Politically Correct Bedtime Stories except not intended as satire. I leave it to you whether this makes it funnier or not.

Tom Carter said...

I love invented words like "porcinista." It wonderfully expresses the nonsense idea of revolutionary pigs. The first image that popped up was a group of hugely chunky people demonstrating against unhealthy food in front of a McDonald's, then going in for Big Macs and fries.

Your husband is certainly eloquent, but all he was doing is practicing the kind of self defense well-known to husbands and boyfriends. There are some standard rules, too. For example, the answer to the question, "Does this make me look fat?" is "No." Always.

Steve Hayes said...

I rather liked the retelling of the three little pigs. Must be because I'm a little pink liberalist, which was a highly politically incorrect thing to be under the Vorster regime, and seems to be equally politically incorrect under the Zuma regime.

JamesFinnGarner said...

Glad you enjoyed my book, Clarissa, and took it all in the proper spirit. It was a lot of fun to perform and write.

If anyone cares, I've recently published my own e-books of these stories, with a little extra material. Including, finally, The Duckling That Was Judged On Its Personal Merits and Not On Its Physical Appearance.

Thank you too, for the posts on Asperger's. They give me some useful new slants on this issue, important to me because someone in my house is on the spectrum.

Clarissa said...

Wow, I'm so glad you came by! It's great that the books are now available in e-book format. This makes them accessible to a lot more people.

Thank you for writing them!

JamesFinnGarner said...

I hope to have a new e-book up within the month, in a completely different humor genre. If the words "clown noir" spark your imagination, keep an eye on my website for information.


Clarissa said...

Thank you, JFG! I definitely will look forward to it.

Izgad said...

So I helped bring JFG to this site.

Awesome! :)