Children's lit/film/whatever that's just TOO dated for safety

When I saw the thread I thought a more literal meaning of “safety” was meant. So I came in to mention a collection of the original Dick and Jane stories that my wife got me as a sort of nostalgic gag gift a few years ago; in one scene the mother gives the kids laundry bags to play with–which they immediately put over their heads and start running down the sidewalk.

Yes, but not much more so than the original title(s) would have done, with most people recognizing the “Ten Little Indians” reference and foreseeing the pattern of the book.

Well, no, there’s also tobacco. Curious George has a “good meal and a good pipe,” and the back cover of Goodnight Moon has been altered to remove a cigarette illustrator Clement Hurd was holding.

Anybody remember the intro to the movie “The Blue Lagoon”?

Do you think that shit would fly these days?

(Not really a kids movie, but still.)

Or Pretty Baby . . .

oddly enough I do have a copy of a Song of the South DVD.

Personally I think that the stories should be left as they are so people can get the appropriate historical context from them.

Look, I grew up reading Biggles books, War Picture Library comics, various “Colonial Adventure” stories, and so forth, and even as a kid I knew that whilst it might have been acceptable to refer to one’s Indian manservant as a “Darkie” back in 1927, it wasn’t OK now, and that- this is really important- the stories weren’t real. Just like when Wile E. Coyote got a safe dropped on him or Daffy held onto dynamite too long, I knew they were obviously not real and trying to do that in real life would be A Very Bad Thing.

So I think it’s important for kids to be able to read the Classics without having them sanitised in case an Ethnic Minority they may not even interact with much gets offended by something written last century. (How many Red Indians are there in Australia or the UK, for example?)

Now, if a modern Children’s story refers to Black people as “Darkies”, for example, then yeah, that’s no appropriate. But it’s not Kipling’s fault that social mores have changed since he started writing, and bowdlerising historic works to avoid offending a minority of people today seems dangerously close to Winston Smith’s job in Nineteen Eighty Four… That’s not a path I think we as a society should be going down.

I think I was 8 or 9 when I read the Mary Poppins books. I honestly don’t remember any racism. What I do remember are the giant candy store ladies who broke off their fingers and gave them to the children to suck on (that’s the kind of imagery that stays with you, ugh), and their tiny little ancient wizened crone of a mother. I also remember Ms. Poppins being a crotchety bitch.

Stephen King once said, via Roland the Gunslinger, that you can often learn more about a people from its made-up stories than from its histories. I think there’s something in that, and that bowdlerizing older works to make them “acceptable” to modern thought smacks of revisionist history. If parents want to exercise veto rights over what their little darlings read or watch, that’s their prerogative, but don’t go changing things around because it’s now considered offensive.

on previewOr, what Martini Enfield said. Darn it.

And for those who didn’t get the reference, the poem was quoted in its entirety within the book.

Julie (Andrews) Edwards’ book, The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles, starts out with the kids meeting a weird old man in the park and going to his house. Then they lie to their parents about where they really were.
Not that old, either, it came out in 1974.

In the Walter Matthau version of The Bad News Bears, Matthau’s character actually hits a kid on the baseball diamond, right in front of both teams, parents, god, and everybody. While the character was sort of marginalized for doing so, nothing was said to him about hitting kids.

In the Billy Bob Thornton version of the same movie, the confrontation scene is whitewashed so as not to include the child beat down.

Personally, I prefer the Matthau version, simply because it more accurately reflects the childhood of the 70s that I remember so vividly. That’s more like what it was like growing up back then, than the sanitized version reflects my childhood. If you grew up in the late 80s or 90s, then the Thornton version may speak to you more, personally.

and some deep, deeeeeeeep breaths of ether :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t believe books need to be “sanitized for your protection”. In a school setting, the books can be presented in the context of the times. Things that were commonly accepted then are not acceptable now. That kind of thing. If you cut the racially insensitive parts of Huckleberry Finn, you won’t have much book left.

The 80’s changed everything.

Aren’t children’s books where they lie and don’t do everything they’re supposed to still pretty common? I’d hate to think that kids’ books suddenly got boring.

Yeah. In a world where we have sexy Miley Cyrus photos and countdowns till underage starlet du jour turns 18, that would NEVER fly.

Not really egregious, but still annoying is weight issues. We have an old book based on the 101 dalmations and it refers to seeing a ‘big fat man and his big fat dog’ walking in the park. Of course, every overweight person we saw for the next day or two was a ‘big fat woman/man’. Not exactly setting a great examply for my kids.

I have a stack of old Tintin books that once belonged to my father. Most of them are probably still fit for modern-day children, but I’d feel really uncomfortable sharing the one where Tintin goes to the Congo, or his adventures in China in The Blue Lotus.

Definitely un-PC by today’s standards, but things have changed a lot in the past 90 years.

(Emphasis mine)

Saying that “a delightful children’s story” so easily becomes “a cultural oddity about racism” sounds “hysterical” (as the OP has it) to me. Does a romance become “all about cursing” if a character says “Goddam it!” once or twice? Or a mystery become “all about sex” if the detective spends the night with someone? Children (and adults!) need to develop the ability to see what they find unacceptable and to deal with it, instead of censoring anything that might offend anyone.

Martini Enfield’s post about Nineteen Eighty-Four has it right.

I was recently reading some classic children’s stories to my boy, and two things struck me as anachronistic:

  1. Aside from the “pipe” scene, the thing that struck both my wife and I as dated (as in “this would not fly these days”) was a scene in one of the George stories where George is walking by the side of the road and two strange men in a truck stop to invite him to come to the circus with them … and he gets in the truck with them without question. (Aside to the kid: “you are never to do this …”).

  2. In the very first Babar book, Babar goes to the city … and becomes a gigilo for an older lady (she gives him her purse to buy nice clothes, then gives him a car … ). :smiley:

I do not have my copy of Mary Poppins with me, but I did look on Google books and on Amazon and neither of them bring up any mention of the word “nigger.” I don’t know whether they were using bowdlerized editions, however (the Google Books one looked pretty old, so I doubt it).

Also, I am not sure we read the same Mary Poppins books. As Marlitharn said, Mary Poppins without the racism (given its presence) I would not call a “delightful children’s story,” though I might call it “an extremely weird children’s story with a lot of really bizarre characters and happenstances” (in addition to Marlitharn’s memory of the giant depressed ladies and their harridan mother, which was also my most powerful one, there’s also the Admiral who gets locked in the zoo, the dog who browbeats his owner into submission… it’s all very weird). I’ll agree it was entertaining, though, and I loved the book.