29 May 2008

Bernstein Man-Haters

Last night I stopped in at bedtime with the Jexies. Elizabeth had swiped (with permission) a few Bernstein Bear books from Ma and Pa Eatonsky. These books were the soy to my milk during my childhood.

But there's something funny about re-visiting well used children's books as an adult, just as there is with watching children's movies. You finally get what's going on, or you just see huge un-PC red flags. With ugly neon orange.

Ex: Re-watching Disney's Robin Hood (in my ever loyal opinion, one of the most cleverly scripted animated movies ever to hit the eyes of the young and old), I realized that Plucky was actually saying, "You heard what he said, Bushel Britches!" When I was a wee bairn, it was just a jumble of shouted words I couldn't understand at all. I gave Plucky the benefit of the doubt in those days. Or with Disney's A Little Mermaid, when Ariel's sister says in a pitying tone, "Oh, she's got it bad." I was SO SURE she really said "Oh, she's got a pad." As in a pad of paper, and I had a really great and profound explanation as to why a love sick girl would have and NEED a pad of paper on hand 24/7. Watching them with a bit more wisdom added to my bad self, I realized what the words truly were.

So in my adult-hood, reading these books again with the little niece and nephew muffins, I realized:

1) Holy CRAP! These books do NOT paint a good picture of the male breed. (Maybe the writers of 24 are getting back at these books, and that's why they make every female except Chloe such a dim-witted, plan destroying ninny.) While the cubs are presented with the task of overcoming would-be destructive habits such as Too Much TV, or Too Much Junkfood, they don't always initially take kindly to the tasks or the detox plans. But Papa Bear is the crowning jewel of family disappointment, always attempting to 007 his way around the new rules, and he fails miserably every time. Why did Stan and Jan, authors and lovers, feel the need to paint such a pathetic picture of the father? But, as Elizabeth generously pointed out after we witness the superior construction of a tree house for Sister Bear, "He may be an idiot, but man, he can build." Kudos.

2) You just can't use certain phrases anymore. In answer to one protest of no more TV, Mamma Bear said to Brother Bear, "And never mind the buts!" As soon as Elizabeth read those dangerous words out loud, Sam fizzled into a fit of giggles and kept repeating, "Never mind the butts?!?!?" (Where did he learn that word, by the way?? Elizabeth's home is a refuge for the kind of speech...I'm not even allowed to say "stupid.")

Anyway. Readers of Bernstein Bear books, beware. What messages are we REALLY trying to send to our children? It's a miracle I myself am not on the streets right now peddling for my next fix, or going the way of Gloria Steinum.


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