Nuggets of Wisdom

Friday, February 17, 2012

Random Fridays: Bluebeard

Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics was a Japanese animated anthology series that was translated and broadcast on Nickelodeon during the late 80s/early 90s. As the name implies, the episodes were animated adaptations of Grimms Fairy Tales—from classics such as Red Riding Hood and Snow White, to more obscure tales such as The Devil and his Grandmother. One such obscure fairy tale is the episode I’m featuring for this Random Friday: Bluebeard.

Once upon a time, there was a young maiden name Josephine who lived in the forest with her three woodcutter brothers. One day, a royal carriage arrives to whisk her away to marry a rich suitor—the mysterious Bluebeard—named because of his blue facial hair. Josephine marries Bluebeard and soon enjoys her new life of splendor. Bluebeard later departs on a journey and entrusts Josephine with a set of keys which open every door in his mansion, informing her that she is free to explore any room she desires—except one! As soon as Bluebeard leaves, Josephine begin opening every door and exploring every room. She soon comes across the door she was forbidden to open, and out of temptation, opens it anyway. To her horror, she discovers that the room contains the corpses of Bluebeard’s former wives. Shocked, Josephine rushes out of the room, but not without picking up the key she had dropped on the blood-stained floor. She soon learns, to her dismay, that she is unable to wash away the blood on the key. Bluebeard returns and demands his keys back. He notices the blood-stained key, realizing that she had entered the room he had strictly forbidden her from entering. He informs her that the room contains the bodies of his wives who also disobeyed him, and that now she must now join the rest of them. Before he can slay her, her brothers rush to her rescue and kill him.

I’m highlighting this particular episode because it clearly shows what no longer passes on children’s television nowadays. For one thing, the episode starts with Bluebeard driving a sword right through one of his former wives (though we only see the silhouette). Later, we see Josephine enjoying dinner with a glass of wine—not grape juice, not fruit punch, but wine—and Josephine brags that she hopes she doesn’t get tipsy! (This was clearly long before 4Kids did a reverse Jesus and transformed wine into water on YuGiOh!)

And then there’s the blood. Oh yes: there will be blood! Not lots of it, mind you, but more than you see on modern children’s television—which is none! The scene where Josephine enters the forbidden room is especially frightening, with the dead wife corpses (some nearly decomposed) hanging from the walls and the white roses turning red and transforming into pools of blood. (One can only assume this was some poor kid’s nightmare fuel!)

Of course, this was all back in the 80s. None of this stuff would fly on television nowadays—especially Nick Jr., which is what this show originally aired on. Everything has to be squeaky clean with no violence, no horror, no death, no alcohol, and especially no blood.

Is it just me, or does watching shows like this make anyone else long for the 80s—back when standards for children’s entertainment were less strict? Back when G-rated movies had three-breasted harpies and PG-rated movies had fat kids shouting “Shit!”? Back before soccer moms had our entertainment whitewashed, transforming an entire generation of children into pussies?

Man I miss the 80s!