Thursday, July 05, 2007

Gruesome fairy tales

Adam, his friend (whose name slips me) and I were having a different discussion over lunch. His friend made a casual comment on how kids should be monitored even while watching animations, cartoons and fairy tales... Hold on there!! Did he say fairy tales?? I quipped in with an emphatic WHY? His reasoning was that fairy tales were actually gruesome, and Adam joined forces talking about Snow white and poisoned apples, the witch in Hansel and Gretel who ate kids, and how the witch was pushed into a burning furnace at the end, Hansel and Gretel's parents who abandoned their own kids in the heart of a jungle!! Hmm.... I admit I never thought of them... they are sort of gruesome when you actually think of the story.

This reminded me of the lawsuits that were against Tom and Jerry, claiming that the cartoon was getting far too violent with Tom treating Jerry in the most cruel, violent manners possible (trying to roast him in an oven, trying to skin him with a peel, dropping him into boiling water, trying to squash him with tables and bowling balls... ). The prosecutors were nervous that these animations portrayed the exact opposite of what kids are always being taught (i.e., to be nice and courteous and not to chase other kids with bowling balls). When these animations actually cast them in the light of humor, it seems to dispel the severity of such acts. Although Jerry is fine after being roasted in the oven and being squashed, that's not reality and we can't be sure if kids can discern between surrealism and reality. We don't want some bully to drag some child into an oven, thinking he will be fine.

When I first read about the lawsuits I was quite surprised. I mean, when I was young, my friends, cousins and I grew up watching Tom and Jerry and Walt Disney, forming the core of our childhood (at least for me). How come we managed to grow up ok? Was it our parents, the spiritual grounding we had? Or perhaps we were far too innocent (aka dumb) to try and replicate the acts, or we were far too smart (Of course!) knowing such acts were to be forgotten after the show.

But looking at contemporary cartoons, I am flabbergasted! If there were lawsuits against Tom and Jerry, where are the lawsuits now?? Cartoons have become far too violent and gross these days! Humor has become twisted - humor is constantly being equated to somebody else's misery, and in a far too vindictive manner than in Tom and Jerry. This gets us thinking of violence in everyday life.

Video games are another prime source of violence, becoming gorier by the day. I remember my cousin getting so involved in shooting and killing the bad guys that you could see him getting angry and worked up. Aren't such media only invigorating the baser violent instincts? After the shooting at VT, there was so much news and hype about profane essays the killer had written. The vocabulary and gruesome violence portrayed in his plays are something almost every guy I see around is capable of thinking... perhaps they don't have the guts to submit it to a professor.

There are many well educated and cultured people out there using gruesome video games of killing people and animals in the most gory manner possible, to vent out frustrations at work or just for pure fun. When these well educated, well mannered, apparently non-psychopathic people can display such traits, one wonders how acute should a warning be, to identify the ones in trouble.

The fact is that it's so easy for the mind to snap, and when it does, we call attention to so called "traces of evidence that led to the catastrophe". We see PLENTY of evidence and red flags among many in our everyday lives, but we literally don't do anything about it. A person is not born a killer or a psychopath... each of us have the potential to snap.

Violence has been encouraged as being part of our life and we mercilessly expose kids to violence from the very tender ages. And it's quite disturbing to realize that even cartoons and fairy tales are not spared...

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