Saturday, March 06, 2010

Kinda Makes me Chortle

Let's talk about middle-aged men taking photographs of adolescent girls. Dressed in provocative poses, or naked, all in exquisite style...photographically.

I don't like the subject, and I'm sure the reader isn't at ease with it either. Surely a man caught engaging in such activity would be arrested for child endangerment at least.

There are several organizations devoted to the interest and caretaking of the life of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who indeed took pictures of young girls at the dawn of the age of photography, a century and a half ago, and who used the pseudonym of Lewis Carroll for his books about Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

The fascination with Lewis Carroll is partly due to his creative proclivities crossing over from knowledge and studies of math and logic to his use of words and story telling, and partly from the huge success of his books.

Who knows if he was a pederast? I heard similar stories about Walt Disney when I worked at Disney Studios in the 1980's. Supposedly--he was an anti-Semite who employed Jews; he was a skirt-chaser about whom Julie Andrews gushed as if he were a father-figure; he was an alcoholic who I loved to watch once a week in the 1950's, when he appeared as host of a TV show called"Disneyland." This TV show used Disney's movies and was sponsored by ABC, which financed the amusement park experiment, Disneyland.

Years later when I heard and read the truths and rumors about Walt Disney, the actual man, it was like waking up and getting it right. Like when I found out Mickey Mantle was a roaring drunk, and not the "hero" I watched play baseball when I was 8 years old.

Even if only a percentage of the rumors about Disney were true, there were enough to make me realize this wasn't the same "Uncle Walt" I enjoyed watching as a kid.

My favorite "Disneyland" show was "Alice in Wonderland," divided into segments over several weeks, on a 19 inch black and white television set. It was mesmerizing, especially the caterpillar "dude" with the hookah (bong?) blowing smoky letters of messages out to little Alice (just as Carroll wrote her she was a young girl in the animated version).

Never mind drugs (this one makes you small, this one makes you tall) the interest for me dates back way before the 1951 animated feature. Walt's initial fame came from drawing "Alice" adventures back in Kansas in the 1920's using a real child model and putting her in animated settings. This was a clever and creative expression at the time.

It doesn't seem fair to compare the current Disney "Alice" mega-millions-budgeted 3D release with the lineage from the past. Just for starters--the "Alice" character in the new movie is 19, and she is being proposed to for marriage. The innocence of the 7-year-old "Alice" of the books is already lost before the movie begins. Obviously Tim Burton & co are not interested in maintaining Carroll's or Disney's point of view of this little girl getting into big trouble, or any otherwise psychological dysfunction. Why should they?

The "Alice" I remember is bizarre, frightening, and wildly imaginative.

So if the forest trees don't scare the crap out of me and Snow White, Bambi's mother doesn't get shot, Pinocchio doesn't turn into a donkey, and little girls napping out by the tree don't fall down a menacing hole with weird-speaking unbelievable beings--

Then I guess 3D "Alice" notwithstanding, my happy childhood fairy tales are over.

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