Friday, October 19, 2012

When we censor ourselves what does it say about us?

I was looking forward to getting Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series for the kids. I had enjoyed them when I was in the pre-teen/early teen years. Here are some comments I found when I looked them up on Amazon:

By Titan
This book is not Enid Blyton's original text but an edited version. It is an outrage that this is not made more clear. If I want to read Enid Blyton, I want to read the original words, not a doctored 'modern' version. Apparently the original (first folio) version is still available so you might want to look for that instead of buying this one. I would give the original version 5 stars, incidentally. I loved the Famous Five books as a child.

By Tatyana A Privalova
Chapter one, this edition: She wants a good talking to.
Chapter one, older editions: She wants a good spanking.

Enough said.

By emma_e_brown
Like the last reviewer I am thoroughly disgusted that the publishers have "updated" the text. I was looking forward to a big nostalgia trip, but no lashings of ginger beer here by jove! This is hardly replacing a racially offensive toy with naughty teddies and I see no reason whatsoever for butchering these classic stories. What next - The Lion, The With, and the Ipod?!! Surely contemporary children are just as capable of appreciating a period story as we were?

These reviewers gave the book one star because of the edits. I’m not sure I’d go that far. I had noticed this ‘politically correct edits’ when the kids were younger. In Curious George Goes Fishing, the current edition has George seeing a large man go by. In an older edition of Curious George Flies a Kite (which we got as a hand me down) from which Goes Fishing was excerpted, it was a fat man.

What is the message that we are trying to send? That we don’t want to mislabel someone? Or is it that we don’t want the kids to think badly of us -- that we used to call people fat, that we used to spank? When kids grow up as they all inevitably do, they’ll know what fat and spank are - so what did we achieve by withholding these ‘truths’ from them?

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