Friday, August 08, 2008

The Dark Side of Puppetry - Friday's Forgotten Books

For more Forgotten Books check out Patti Abbott's blog here.

I like a book with murder in it. With grifters, liars, thieves. Kids getting caught up in white slavery, overworked to death. Young punks getting their dads thrown in jail. Something dark and fucked up. I'm fine with a happy ending as long as it's a really twisted ride to get there.

That's why I've always liked The Adventures of Pinocchio.

Forget Disney. That bastard screwed Carlo Collodi's little noir tale all to hell. Most people, here in the States at least, know the Disney version and not the story it comes from. Where Disney is this light, fluffy, feel good movie written to help a struggling America forget about the depression, the original is a dark little morality play that could give kids puppet nightmares for weeks.

Case in point, the Cricket? He dies. Pretty much right at the beginning. Pinocchio MURDERS him. Flattens him with a hammer. The Cricket's ghost haunts the little bastard the rest of the story offering sarcasm instead of advice. This is after Pinnochio gets Gepetto locked up. The cops see an old man running after a little boy in the streets and, well, you can guess what they're thinking. As comeuppance Pinocchio manages to get his feet burned off in the fire until they're nothing but little black stumps. The dangers of being made of wood, I suppose.

It pretty much goes downhill from there with Pinocchio taken for a ride by a couple of grifters, turned into a donkey with another kid who gets sold to a farm to work until he dies from exhaustion, eaten by fish, thrown in jail. Twice. The only thing missing is him selling his ass on Skid Row to pay for a meth habit.

To give him credit Pinocchio does try. But he's stupid and kind of a dick so he always screws things up. Until the end where he finally redeems himself. And then gets rewarded by being turned into a real boy.

Congratulations, kid! You can die now! That's a real plus.

So if you're looking for something to scar your kids you can't go wrong with this one. Twenty years from now their therapists will thank you.

1 comment:

David said...

Wow. I started reading this, thinking it was a parody of children's lit, and then realized, that no, actually Pinocchio was really dark & disturbing. Kinda like the way the Grimm fairy tales were, before they got the Disney treatment.

BTW, if you remember back in the dim mists of the intertubes' infancy, there was a hip lit magazine called Simpleton, where many of the guys from Suck would hang out. They published a spot-on parody of Sesame Street, as if it were written by James Ellroy. You gotta love any story that combines Tickle Me Elmo fuck books with the description of Big Bird as "hung like a bull moose."

This link sometimes works:

If not, well, drop me a line - a site calling itself "LA Noir" should feature some of this genius.

One more, and then I'll let you check it out yourself - one of the dark secrets in the story is that the Cookie Monster is, in fact, diabetic, and can't eat cookies or he'd lapse into a coma ... but he desperately covers it up, so as not to blow his endorsement deals... Hee!