I am not looking forward to the Curious George movie. But then I don't have to. My daughter is in college and my son in High School, so they can see the film without me. I surely don't need exposure to such a politically incorrect manifesto. Joe Garofoli, in the San Francisco Chronicle, has this:
For the politically correct Bay Area parent, the "Curious George" children's books are a minefield of cultural horrors through which to tiptoe. Imperialism. Animal abuse. Bad parenting.
Puh-leeeeze, George's defenders say. They're children's books, whose charm has not dimmed -- 25 million books and countless swag sold -- even if ideas about political correctness have evolved since the first George adventure was published in 1941. Sometimes a speechless, mischievous monkey is just that -- a monkey, not a metaphor. Besides, George's tales are no more un-PC than those of that royalist warmonger, Babar.
Now I may have to watch the movie, out of political obligations. This from Robin Roth, a "journalist, educator, and activist."
The celebrated children's classic Curious George is a seemingly simple story about an innocent - yet inquisitive - African monkey snatched from his jungle home. Children have loved this boldly illustrated story, in primarily primary colors, and marveled to the adventures of the curious little monkey for decades. The text is easy to read and immediately engaging, but a closer reading reveals a much darker side to the popular tale that spawned sequels, toys, and cartoons. Not only does the story reveal the sinister side of a corrupt wildlife trade with perilous roots in Western imperialism, but recent ethical, legal and scientific considerations on the personhood of primates makes a traditional reading of Curious George both impossible and irresponsible.
Activist, surely she is. Educator? Only if education means enforcing the party line. Garofoli tells me a thing or two I didn't know about George.
The Curious George oeuvre was the work of the husband- and-wife team of H.A. and Margaret Rey, German Jews who escaped France with the first book's manuscript as the Nazis invaded. Most of the seven stories they wrote feature the antics of a monkey whose sweet curiosity gets him in trouble until he's rescued by the nameless Man with the Yellow Hat, George's keeper/parental figure/pal with bail money.
The vicious deconstruction practiced by Roth, if practiced consistently (like that would happen), would demolish not only Western fairy tales, but almost all tradition stories indigenous peoples. Consider the Navajo Coyote tales, of which I am very fond. Coyote is a trickster, if not a very successful one. His tales are full of mischief and misogyny. Surely they justify the eradication of an indigenous species! This is the goofy left at its goofiest.
Hat tip to James Taranto, of the Wall Street Journal.