I find a lot of our fairy tales/bedtime stories have been watered down overtime from their very blunt, graphic depictions of what happens when you don’t follow society’s rules or confront evil. Coming across the ” Politically Correct Bedtime Stories” intrigued me for this reason. There’s also been a lot discussion around political correctness and whether we’ve gone to far with it. In this book, it’s definitely gone way too far.
The book starts with Little Red Ridding Hood and ends with the Pied Piper. I appreciated the tongue-in-cheek attitude that begins Little Red Ridding Hood’s tale. Apparently her grandmother lives in the woods not because she’s no longer a functioning member of society but because she is independent and can take care of herself. Little Red isn’t carrying a basket of sweets, but fiber-filled, gluten-free healthy snacks. This was all well good but the conclusion of the story is completely different from the original. The woodsmen is yelled at for being to patriarchal and “assuming” that Little Red couldn’t handle herself. Then Grandma, Little Red, and the Wolf live in an “alternative lifestyle community” and are happy ever after. This seemed really strange to me. It’s one thing to be politically correct, it’s another to end in a bizarre manner.
Disappointingly many of the tales ended this way. Cinderella’s tale ends with her and the women of the ball put their dresses on all of the men after the guys have beat themselves senseless trying to win Cinderella’s attention. Snow White and the evil queen open up a female empowerment center and we’re left with the image of dwarf-size muddy footprints beneath the locker windows. Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but the juxtaposition of satirical pc verbage plus issues like cross dressing and peeping toms seems like you’re using one to defang the other.
By the end of the book it’s not clear whether the satire of political correctness is meant in a funny way, or whether it’s a direct attack on the idea of being politically correct. Everything in moderation, even political correctness. Anything can be taken too far. At the same time, in today’s political climate where people want to say whatever comes to their mind and call people whatever they want to call them, I do think there needs to be something like political correctness to add a modicum of respect into our speech, especially by professional politicians.
So if you’re triggered by politics you might want to steer clear of this book. If you do find yourself picking up this book, don’t worry, it’s short.