Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: Modern Tales for Our Life & Times - James Finn Garner

Summary:  Once upon a time, in the olden days, heavy-set middle-aged men would congregate in their elitist clubs, sit in overstuffed leather chairs, smoke air-choking cigars, and pitch story ideas and plots to each other.  Problem was, these stories, many of which found their way into the general social consciousness, reflected the way in which these men lived and saw their world: that is, the stories were sexist, discriminatory, unfair, culturally biased, and in general, demeaning to witches, animals, goblins, and fairies everywhere.

Finally, after centuries of these abusive tales, which have been handed down -- unknowingly from one male-biased generation to the next, James Finn Garner has taken it upon himself (that's right, yet another man) to enlighten and liberate these classic bedtimes stories and retell them in a way that is much more in keeping with the society in which we live today.

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, then, is the fruit of Garner's labors.  We'd like to think that future generations of fairy-tale fans will see this as a worthy attempt to develop meaningful literature that is totally free from bias and purged from the influences of a flawed cultural past.  

(Summary from book flap - Image from amazon.com and pinterest.com)

My Review:  When it comes to fairytales of old, there is a startling lack of political correctness. Fortunately, the illustrious James Finn Garner has taken it upon himself to rectify this shameful situation, and bring a little sensitivity to our nighttime routine in the form of his book Politically Correct Bedtime Stories.

Please tell me you read that with a tone of pretend outrage. If not, see definition below and reread.
sat·ire
/ˈsaˌtī(ə)r/

noun

  • 1.the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues:
Politically Correct Bedtime Stories is an easy-to-read, satirical comedy, which pokes fun at our society's tendency to tiptoe around the tender feelings of others. After an amusing introduction that sets the tone for the entire book, Garner offers up thirteen tales that are perfectly 'PC" -- Little Red Riding Hood, The Emperor's New Clothes, Rumpelstiltskin, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Goldilocks, Snow White, Chicken Little, The Frog Prince, Jack and the Beanstalk, and The Pied Piper of Hamlin. These stories have been carefully modified to avoid any and all words that could possibly give offense to anyone. The result is rather entertaining collection of stories that end a bit differently than the traditional tales.


Here's an example of the type of modifications you can expect ---->.  

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories offers a humorous and insightful commentary on our society's increasing tendency to go overboard walking on eggshells.  Obviously, certain words, phrases, and behaviors should be avoided at all costs, but sometimes it seems like we take things too far.  Can't a smart person just be smart?  Can't a short person just be short?  Do we really have to use words like 'intellectually-gifted' or 'vertically-challenged?'  The author isn't actually advocating for the revision of all fairytales nor is he trying to abolish all attempts at political correctness.  He is simply trying to get us to loosen up, laugh at ourselves, and, perhaps, offer a little flexibility and grace to others. 

If you are often exhausted by the ever-expanding vernacular of political correctness and appreciate a little good-natured ribbing, you will enjoy the absurdity of James Finn Garner's Politically Correct Bedtime Stories.   Although this is a book of fairytales there are some instances of profanity and innuendo that make it somewhat unsuitable for tiny humans, who would miss the nuance anyway.  At 79 pages, it's a short (shall we say length-challenged) read and one that would make a fun gift for that slightly offensive friend of yours.  

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

For the Sensitive Reader: There are a few instances of profanity (six or so), some innuendo, and some discussion of phallus-shaped towers.

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