Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Fairy Tale Police

My humans have kept me busy again - and I will tell you about that soon - but I had to rush to tell you about the latest attack on "my" film. It was reported in the latest "Sunday Telegraph" under the headline, "Pinocchio sending out the wrong messages, say the fairy tale police".

It's a report of work by psychologists at Carleton University in Canada. I am sure it is an excellent university - and not just because I think one of my humans' relations may have studied there (in a different Department).

The researchers reviewed films several times, often using pause or slow motion features to capture the content fully. They place "Pinocchio" in a group where childlike characters are in "risky situations" where strangers approach with "hidden malevolence" and promise rewards in exchange for their compliance. They say Pinocchio had been "groomed" by Honest John and Gideon.

At least the research (as reported in the "Telegraph") does not blame everything on the kitten who started the whole thing off by opening the window and letting the Blue Fairy in!

I wonder if the researchers had spent a little less time on the pause feature and a little more watching the story, they might have noticed that Honest John and Gideon are the villains. There is nothing about their malevolence that is hidden from the viewer. "Don't go off with strange adults" is a pretty strong message. As for the danger that it will "influence children to believe it is unnecessary to tell a trusted adult", isn't there something in the film about the benefits of telling the truth? Geppetto is just the sort of role model trtustworthy adult who asks where you have been today.

OK, I may sometimes be a bit dismissive about the insect (Jiminy) but I think he is an adult character (the fairy tale police aren't going to hold his size against him are they?) and a lot of Pinocchio's woes come from not trusting and telling him.

I wasn't surprised to see the newspaper article ended with a note from Disney Company that they hadn't studied the academics' report. Mind you, I'm sure they did study the newspaper article long enough to verify that the large picture of John with his arm round the wooden boy carries the proper copyright mark. Incidentally, the picture illustrates perfectly that Pinocchio looks uncomfortable about this contact. I also suspect Disney will not be too sorry to see that on a holiday weekend the paper has a huge picture of two of their most recognisable characters in a news story. By the way, the DVD has just come out again. Gosh, my character is 70 years old!

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