Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Little Red Riding Hoodie

"Little Red Riding Hoodie" by Daryl Cagle

One of the most talked about news stories last year was the shooting of Trayvon Martin. 17-year old Trayvon Martin was on his way home from a convenience store, having gone out to get some snacks, and was seen as suspicious by George Zimmerman, who called the police to report his behavior of walking leisurely in the rain between houses while wearing a hoodie. The incident ended when Zimmerman got out of his car and chased Martin down, then shot him from 70 yards away from behind, claiming that Martin was trying to attack him and he shot out of personal defense.

This political cartoon by Daryl Cagle shows Little Red Riding Hood in the place of Trayvon Martin, and the wolf as George Zimmerman. The media around the time of the incident made a very big deal in portraying Martin as young and innocent, and Zimmerman as a racist who was just using Martin's "suspicious behavior" as an excuse to shoot him. 

I think Cagle made a good decision to use the tale of Little Red Riding Hood for this incident. Little Red Riding Hood (LRRH) is portrayed as naive, while the wolf is cunning, just like what the media wanted people to believe about Martin and Zimmerman. The cartoon isn't exactly like what happened in the story, seeing as how the wolf shot LRRH in the cartoon, and gobbled her up in the story. Still, by using the story of LRRH, Cagle is able to accomplish exactly what the media was trying to portray. To think that a little girl who is just skipping along through the forest while carrying a basket of goodies to take to her grandmother could in any way be potentially dangerous to a wolf seems absurd, and her clothing choice doesn't change that. Likewise, a young teenage boy walking home from a store after stopping to get himself a snack wouldn't really be able to hurt a grown man who is driving in his car, especially since the grown man was carrying a gun at the time. Even with Martin wearing a hoodie, the piece of fabric he decided to wear that day in no way makes him more or less dangerous than had he decided to not wear it, and should not be used as an excuse to justify shooting him. 

Protestors gathering to support Trayvon Martin

It's ridiculous to think that the armed person "had" to shoot the unarmed person out of self defense, just like it's ridiculous in the stories of LRRH it seems ridiculous for the wolf to gobble the girl and her grandmother. Even if Martin was acting suspiciously, suspicion is still no reason to kill someone. In the stories, the morals are to follow the directions your parents give you and to not talk to strangers, but even still those are not reasons to justify LRRH being eaten by the wolf. But fairytales exaggerate to make a point clear to its audience, to make sure the moral of the story rings home. Real life doesn't have man-eating wolves lurking in the woods for little girls to walk by so they can eat them, but it does have men who can be like wolves, looking out for their prey to leap upon. Zimmerman, just like the wolf and LRRH, found his prey in Martin, and shot him dead.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Unfortunately, I was unable to find the source of this image as it has been spread across the internet so much, but I thought that this illustrated perfectly how fairy tales (represented here by the teddy bear) can save a child from the evil monsters of their imagination.

It's a bird! It's a boy! It's fairy tale heroes!

Children as heroes is a common theme throughout fairy tales, since children are so often the target audience for fairy tales. Bettelheim explains, "the child of school age cannot yet believe that he ever will be able to meet the world without his parents; that is why he wishes to hold onto them beyond the necessary point." It is a scary world out there, and children often have a hard time seeing the things that scare them as they are, and instead their imaginations run wild and personify their fears into things they think can actually hurt them.

In Hansel and Gretel,  the story tells of a brother and sister who have to work together to first outsmart their parents who try to leave them in the forest to die, and then to escape from the evil witch who is trying to eat them. In defeating the evil witch, Hansel and Gretel are able to show children reading the story that it is possible to defeat even the evilest of monsters, and that if they can kill the witch by tricking her into the oven and burning her, then any problem that the children reading the story may have will certainly be able to be overcome.

As Bettelheim says, "fairly tales give him confidence that he can master not only the real dangers which his parents told him about, but even those vastly exaggerated ones which he fears exist." Fairy tales give children hope that there is no monster too big to stop them.

The story of The Juniper Tree tells of an evil stepmother who was jealous of the inheritance that her stepson would get that her daughter wouldn't, so she kills him and chops him up into a stew which she then feeds to her husband. The daughter, crying, buries the bones of her stepbrother under the Juniper tree, where he is magically transformed into a beautiful bird with a voice just as beautiful. The story ends when the bird drops a millstone onto the stepmother, killing her, and then the bird transforms back into the little boy, who goes off with his father and stepsister where they live happily.

This story is important to children, because it teaches them that people will get jealous at times, but that the jealousy of others doesn't have to bring you down.