On Saturday we got around to watching Scott Pilgrim vrs the World. Towards the end, my enjoyment started to be tempered with uncertainty.
Spoilers follow, so here’s a cut…
Does Ramona actually do anything? I mean, she looks brilliant, and she’s cool in that nonchalant way. She attempts to leave the seventh evil ex before the film starts, and she co-fights the fourth evil ex. But otherwise, she’s pretty passive. Maybe fatalistic. She’s made a mistake or two, which it’s then up to Scott to sort out for her. She’s his reward for defeating the villains, just another passive princess on the other side of a thorny hedge.
The husband tells me it’s less like that in the graphic novels, but it bugged me. And the reason it bugs me is because I’m looking for stories to tell my daughter.
I’m telling her variants on:
The Three Pigs, which goes a bit Grand Designs.
The first pig made his house from straw, which is a very good insulating material. The second pig made his house from wood, finished with larch shingles that would weather beautifully. [etc]
The Three Bears, which is based on an early version with a girl called Silver Hair.
“This bed is just right, and it’s still got a hot water bottle in it,” said Silver Hair. And she curled up under the covers without even taking her shoes off.
And, of course, the most iconic story of all, Red Riding Hood. It’s one that’s easy to modify. I’m told it’s the one where kids have heard the most versions, including one in which the wolf doesn’t eat Grandma. And making Red the heroine is as easy as putting an axe in her basket (or a pistol in her knickers if you’re Roalh Dahl). “It all goes a bit Angela Carter,” as the husband says.
I’d pulled out my 1920s edition of the Complete Anderson and Grimm, thinking to tell them to GJ. I excitedly started The Red Shoes only to discover it goes very preachy, so that’s out until I can write a more secular version. There’s a whole dull chapter of The Snow Queen involving flowers which I skipped but otherwise little Gerda is a decent role model. She goes on a quest to seek her friend Kay and is helped by all kinds of different women, from Princesses to an old Finnish woman. (You can tell it’s an old translation as she’s a “Finlander”.)
But when I started to tell Sleeping Beauty, I quickly realised there was no way to alter it so that the Princess is an active agent. She is punished for her curiosity and then literally lies around waiting to be rescued. That’s no role model I’m willing to present, even at this young age.
I’ve over a decade of this kind of double-viewing to come, haven’t I?
(Disclaimer: The husband has pointed out that it isn’t “Ramona Flowers vrs the World”, which is true but doesn’t make me any happier.)