Friday, 7 September 2018

Fairy Tale Friday--Little Rural Riding Hood (Tex Avery, 1949)

Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I'll begin.

Last week we looked at a cartoon by Tex Avery with a sexy Red Riding Hood and an oversexed Wolf and Grandma. This week we look at a similar tale modelled after The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse. 
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Our tale begins with a stereotypical hillbilly version of Little Red Riding Hood (complete with jug of moonshine) going to visit her sick grandmother who lives on a country farm. We then see the wolf at the farmhouse who confesses to the audience that he doesn’t want to eat Red, just “chase her and catch her and kiss her and hug her.” Again, harking back to earlier versions of the tale where the wolf wants to “consume” her sexually, not physically.

Red Riding Hood is a comical, gawky bucked-toothed figure with enormous feet and prehensile toes (she uses her bare feet to open and close the doors.) The wolf chases her around the farm trying to steal a kiss and all the time she cleverly avoids him—opening the door with her foot so he runs outside and kisses a cow and then slamming the door (again with her foot) so he crashes into it and flattens himself. At first you think she is rebuffing his advances, but right at the end she finally lets herself be “caught” and puckers up for a kiss. I really hate the idea of “playing hard to get” as I feel it sends the message that no really means yes.
Image result for little rural riding hood
Anyway, she is just about to receive her big kiss when the wolf receives a telegram. He drops her flat on the floor and reads the telegram from his sophisticated city wolf cousin who offers him a chance to come to the big city and includes a photo of Red Hot Riding Hood (from the film we looked at last week). The wolf behaves much as the wolf in Red Hot Riding Hood did—panting and howling as his tongue spools out if his mouth like ribbonthen drives straight to the big city.

His city cousin is much more suave and sophisticated and admonishes him for behaving in such an animalistic manner. He reprimands him and says, “But remember, here in the city we do not shout and whistle at the ladies.” That evening they go to the club and watch Red Hot Riding Hood sing and perform an erotic dance. Side note: The performance is actually cribbed from an earlier Tex Avery film called Swing Shift Cinderella where she had to be away by midnight because she was a Rosie the Riveter sort of gal and she was working the night shift.

Anyway, the song she sings is called “Oh, Wolfie” and is basically about how “all the chicks are crazy for a certain burly wolf” which just reinforces the idea that “girls love a bad guy.” Her dance is quite erotic (for a cartoon) and the country wolf is so overexcited that his eyes literally pop out of his head. His more sophisticated cousin tries to hold him back from such gross displays of affection. At the end when the country wolf rushes to the stage to grab her, he is hit over the head by his city cousin with a mallet that was conveniently just lying around and told that he is behaving inappropriately and that “this city life is just too much for you.”

When they arrive at the farmhouse, they find the country Red waiting for them. The city wolf, who up until this time has had impeccable manners, becomes wildly attracted to her. He begins to imitate the behaviour his country cousin showed in the city with his eyes literally popping out of his head while a horn goes AROO—GA! Just as he begins to chase after her, he is stopped by his country cousin with another conveniently placed mallet. The country wolf promptly decides to take his city cousin back home, exclaiming, “Sorry cousin, This country life’s too much for ya.” He then drives back to the big city where he can sexually harass the city Red again.

The conveniently placed mallet that wasn't there a minute ago is a trope used over and over in cartoons that really bugged me all my life, which is no doubt why I mention it twice here. It is just lazy animating to pull a mallet out of thin air when you need one character to clobber another character. /rant over/

There is a genuinely funny bit where after being hit by the pulled from thin air mallet each wolf gets wheeled around like a wheelbarrow with his head rotating like a squeaky wheel. This made me laugh. The rest, not so much.

Like all of these early cartoons they are filled with sex crazed characters who just harass their love interest like a sex pest. But they also contain messages about women playing “hard to get” and “no really means yes” which don’t sit well with me these days.

Watch it for yourself here.

Next week we look at a “how it should have ended” version of our tale.

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