Sunday, 28 July 2013

Scary Kids' Stories

Warning: This article contains spoilers for the movie Cloud Atlas.

Cloud Atlas
I recently watched the movie Cloud Atlas and although it was an enjoyable movie which I would recommend seeing, one of the questions I had about the movie was the closing scene.  As anyone who’s seen Cloud Atlas will know, the movie tells six different stories and edits them together in small segments as if you were channel-hoping between all six stories.

Anyway, at the end of the movie the final scene shows Tom Hanks' character from the post-apocalyptic storyline sitting round the campfire apparently telling his grand-kids the stories we have just watched.  The kids obviously enjoy his tales as they excitedly plead with him, "Tell us more, grandappy!  Tell us more!"

At first I thought to myself, ‘Ar, that’s nice,’ but then later on the thought occurred to me, ‘Hang on a second!  I’m not sure that’s a realistic response for a kid to have after just being told the stories from Cloud Atlas.’

Just to give an example, the second story involves an aspiring composer who's happy to sleep with just about everyone in order to further his career.  He then gets blackmailed by his boss and so he shoots his boss, then goes into hiding for a couple of weeks and then finally he commits suicide by putting a gun in his mouth and shooting himself through the back of the head.  Is that the sort of story which would have kids responding, ‘Wow!  What a great story!  Tell us more!’?

The other five stories aren’t much better.  Presumably Tom Hanks’ next tale must have went something along the lines of ‘Once upon a time there was a nice man who went to sea and then an evil doctor tried to murder him by giving him an overdose of drugs so that he could steal his gold…’

A marauding barbarian, pictured yesterday.
The thought then occurred to me, however, that perhaps Tom Hanks was only telling his grandkids his own post-apocalyptic story and not the other five stories.  In which case his story would have went something along the lines of, ‘Once upon a time there was a small village pleasantly minding its own business until one day a group of savage marauding barbarians came along and violently hacked and slashed all the villagers to death and then burnt their homes down…’

“Gosh!  Grandpappy, tell us more!  Tell us another of your blatantly inappropriate and too violent for kids stories which we’re allegedly really excited to hear!’ responded the kids.

Hmm…  Whichever way I looked at it, I couldn’t help feeling a little bit sceptical that kids would respond in such a wide-eyed excited manner.  Surely stories like that would have kids curled in a ball crying their eyes out with fear.  Surely that would be a more accurate portrayal of a realistic response by a kid on hearing such traumatic stories.

So for a brief period I was sort of a bit disappointed with the lack of realism of the ending.  However, it quickly occurred to me that in actual fact the ending was more realistic than I realised.  When you consider the fairy tales that we tell kids nowadays, the scary tales which Tom Hanks tells his grandkids aren’t really that much different.

Let’s start with Little Red Riding Hood…

“Once upon a time this little girl walked through a scary forest to her grandmother’s house but unfortunately when she got there she discovered that a wolf had eaten her grandmother…”

"Grandma, what big teeth you have!  Ar, hang on.  That's not grandma.
It's a wolf!  I'm always getting those two muddled up."
Which fool decided that would be a pleasant story to tell to kids?  Like, "Ar, I’ve just come up with a great idea for a story for kids…  ‘A wolf eats a young girl’s grandma and then to make matters worse the wolf then tries to take the place of the grandma so that he can then eat the young girl as well.’  The perfect bedtime story!  That’s sure to send kids off to sleep feeling perfectly safe and snug."

Or what about The Three Little Pigs…

“Once upon a time there was this evil wolf who destroyed someone’s home so that he could try to eat him…”

Goldilocks And The Three Bears isn’t much better…

“Once upon a time there was this girl who just decided to randomly go into a stranger’s house and start helping herself to the food…”

Bizarrely, when I was really young the story which personally freaked me out the most was The Magic Porridge Pot.  For some reason the idea of this magic pot spewing out more and more porridge until eventually the entire world was full to overflowing with porridge just seemed like a really horrific vision.  I can also remember another story about a troll under a bridge which didn’t exactly do wonders for my psychological state of being.

Anyway, perhaps if anyone comes up with any more fairy tales to tell kids in future then they may want to consider making their stories a little bit more PG rated.

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About The Author

The 'How To Save The World' books
by Charles Fudgemuffin
Charles Fudgemuffin is the author of the alien comedy 'How To Save The World' books which are available for Kindle from Amazon.  The first book in the series is available from the following link:
How To Save The World: An Alien Comedy

As with all Kindle books, you can also download a free sample of the first few chapters.

Please note, the 'How To Save The World' books contain material suitable for ages 18+ and are not recommended for prudes or squares.