“It's Raining, It's Pouring, And the Old Man is Dead.”
I'd like to start off by saying that I read a lot of the classic “bedtime stories” when I was little, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. I've re-read them not too long ago, and I have been wondering about them ever since. I've noticed very creepy messages behind the seemingly innocent stories and rhymes..very creepy, indeed. Surely, I'm not the only one who has noticed?
I guess I'll start off with the one that inspired me to write this article; Little Red Riding Hood. It's a well known story with a happy ending, and that's all good, but have you heard the real, original story? No? I wouldn't be surprised; most people haven't. Well, I'll point out everything wrong with it, in my opinion.
So, it starts off with a little girl, Little Red Riding Hood, walking through the woods. Why? Because her mom sent her off to deliver goodies to her sick grandmother. So...her mom is not only perfectly fine with the fact that her daughter is walking through the woods, all alone, with the very real possibility of getting lost or eaten by wild animals, but she sent her there? Not good...
So anyways, Little Red is stopped when a wolf approaches her. Ignoring her mother's warnings, she stops to talk with the wolf. In one move, Little Red has disobeyed her parents, and is talking to strangers. Then, the wolf tells her that there are some delicious berries on that bush over there, so she goes to pick them. The wolf tries to eat Red, but she miraculously gets away.
Unfortunately, Little Red has foolishly told the wolf exactly where she's going! Didn't her mother ever teach her about “stranger danger”? I guess not, because the wolf shows up and eats the grandmother. Then, he disguises himself as the grandmother and waits for Little Red's arrival.
She comes with the goody basket into the house, and, long story short, is tricked and eaten by the wolf. Here's where things get interesting.
Now, we've all heard of the lumberjack, right? The crazy, goofy lumberjack in the parody movie, “Hoodwinked”? Here, he plays a quite different role. He somehow stumbles upon the sleeping wolf, and notices that he has eaten two people. So, what does he do?
Why, he kills the wolf, of course!
Slitting the wolf's stomach open, he frees the somehow-still-living Granny and Red. And then, they all sit down and finish the picnic that Little Red's mother packed.
And so, Little Red, clearly having learned nothing, bids them farewell and wanders off into the woods, all alone, again.
...Do you see a problem here? The real ending is strange and creepy, and Little Red Riding Hood is a bad influence in general. Is this really our world's view of what a charming, sweet little tale should look like?
Another one that I find completely and utterly disturbing is a nursery rhyme. I don't know the name of it, but I'm sure you'll recognize it;
“It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring.
He went to bad and bumped his head
and didn't get up in the morning!”
So, an old man went to go to bed, but hit himself in the head, and died.
...I'm sorry, what? This is what kids are singing? I remember singing this song, in kindergarten, whenever it rained. I never noticed the dark meaning of the song back then. But I certainly do now.
These are only two of many examples I could give. The nursery rhyme “London Bridge” is weird and slightly twisted on many levels. I'm sure that those people who were putting razor blades in apples got their inspiration from the story “Snow White”. In the original “Cinderella”, in order to fit their feet into the slippers, Cinderella's evil stepsisters cut the heels of their feet off. (I'm serious, look it up) Even the “Wedding March” is based on a funeral song! Forgive me if I don't feel that these are the greatest messages to have in “classic” stories for kids. And then, you see every little girl out there saying she wants to be Snow White for Halloween, talking about how she wants to be a princess when she grows up. And we all laugh, thinking about how “cute” it is.
I am not (and I repeat NOT) saying that these stories are bad, Per Se. They are just bad influences, or have bad messages. Especially for kids. Wherever these people were looking for inspiration, I'd suggest that somebody else looks elsewhere and comes up with a real bedtime story.