September 19th, 2012Curious George and the Dragonby Joseph Pearce
As a mark of what I fear is over-scrupulosity, I am suffering from guilt-pangs for acting unjustly towards a cartoon chimpanzee!
Almost two months ago, on July 29th to be precise, I wrote a post for this site entitled “Curiosity Killed the Monkey” in which I condemned what I took to be the “sugar coated poison masquerading as a moral” at the end of an episode of Curious George. Two months later and my four-year-old daughter’s addiction to this particular cartoon shows little sign of abating. Earlier this week, at the breakfast table, she asked me to watch an episode with her. The plot revolved around the efforts of the chimp and its owner to reunite a baby elephant with its parents. It was somewhat saccharine perhaps but otherwise harmless. Finally we got to the climactic moment in which the man in the yellow hat (the chimp’s owner, like Clint Eastwood, is a man with no name) gives a speech in which he waxes lyrical about the lessons he’s learned on his adventure. He has learned that family bonds are more important than any abstract theories and that the relationship between a parent and a child is sacrosanct. The speech wins over his initially skeptical audience and traditional family values emerge triumphant.
As if the triumph of the family wasn’t enough, we also witness the defeat of the wicked character, symbolically named Mr Wolf. In the victory of the man in the yellow hat and his childlike chimp over the big bad Wolf we see the timeless motif at the heart of the truth in all fairy stories. It seems, therefore, that I have done George and his owner an injustice. I’m not sure that cartoon characters are able to turn the other cheek or offer forgiveness but that doesn’t mean that I should not make public confession of my sin. I have failed to love my animated neighbor. I apologize.