A FEW weeks back, I got a text about a dwarf getting on a LUAS tram in Dublin being offered a seat by a young boy. The dwarf responded furiously, saying that he wasn’t disabled, and was quite nasty to the young boy, who sat back into his seat quite red-faced.
At the next stop, an old lady passed as she was getting off. She said to the young boy that what he had done was a very nice gesture and that his mother would be proud of him. She then turned to the dwarf and said: “And Snow White wouldn’t be very proud of you at all!”
I presume the tale is made up – though anyone who was actually on the Luas is welcome to correct me. But it got me thinking. I looked up Snow White on Wikipedia (where would we be without Wikipedia?) and learned that a sadistic version of the Disney princess appears in a video by the German metal band Rammstein. During the video for the song ‘Sonne’, Snow White is portrayed as a dominatrix and addict who shoots up gold dust as a drug.
But then, re-jigging children’s stories isn’t confined to Germany. An underground short movie entitled ‘Mickey Mouse in Vietnam’ featured the Disney character being shipped to South-East Asia and shot dead. Parodies of Mickey Mouse include the ‘Mad Magazine’ character Mickey Rodent, who walks around unshaven and jails Donald Duck out of jealousy over the duck’s greater popularity.
But then, some characters we remember from childhood may not have been all that virtuous to begin with. Visit a website tracing the history of nursery rhymes and you’ll never look at kids’ bedtime reading in the same way.
According to rhymes.org.uk, for example, ‘Ring a Ring o Rosies’ may refer to the Bubonic Plague or Black Death; ‘Old Mother Hubbard’ is said to be a commentary on King Henry VIII’s efforts to get a divorce (I kid you not); while ‘Mary Mary, Quite Contrary’ was about Henry’s daughter, ‘Bloody’ Mary Tudor.
Perhaps fittingly, given their murky origins, nursery rhymes have gone in new directions in recent years. During the end credits of a 2002 movie named ‘The Master of Disguise’, one character points out: “And remember. Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, no one really had a clue what he was doing up there in the first place.” Indeed.
The prequel to ‘Humpty Dumpty’ has not yet been written, but the accidental nature of the egg’s death is now being questioned. The phrase ‘Humpty Dumpty Was Pushed’ has appeared on graffiti, and was used by Canadian Bruce Lord as the title of a book which was published last year.
Lord says that you’ll have to decide yourself, is Chicken Little right? Was his best friend ‘eggsassinated’? “You can help ensure that Humpty’s death was not in vain,” Lord concludes. The fact that the website www.humptydumptywaspushed.com has apparently been sabotaged suggests there may be something in this conspiracy.