Which cat do you like better,” I asked my friend, “Aslan or Hobbes?” He hemmed and hawed for a bit, then replied, “Probably Hobbes.” He explained that Aslan inspires his faith, but Hobbesâ€”he paused, finding it hard to articulate his appreciationâ€””I mean, I love who he is to Calvin. He’s just, you know; he’s just awesome.”
Now, hold off on your blasphemy-blaster just a minute.
The article goes on to compare Disney’s looming potential commercialization of Narnia with Bill Waterson’s staunch refusal to allow Calvin & Hobbes to be commercialized. It’s been 10 years now since Watterson let the comic pages fall silent, and today Hobbes lives on where he belongs — in print alone. Is Narnia the same? It’s close, I think. I’ve started reading the series with my oldest daughter, and I wonder if everyone’s first exposure shouldn’t perhaps be straight from the book, in its purest form. Not that I disagree with the making of the the cinematic version… it’s just that I don’t trust Disney not to trash it in the pursuit of the almighty dollar.
Disney, it seems to me, has lost sight of the reason that children’s books and films should be made… to educate, entertain, and enrich. To excite the imagination, expanding the already vast world of a child. Let the enjoyment take place in the hearts and minds of the children… not in the boardroom when the annual report is given. Seems that Disney has decided to replace Christopher Robin in the beloved Winnie the Pooh stories with a 6-year-old tomboyish girl. Yes, in offing Christopher Robin, they’re off their rocker. Like Christopher Milne himself, I’m not as much a fan of the Disnified Pooh… but I tend toward a preference for the older, the classic, in most things. It’s Pooh’s 80th anniversary, so Disney is trying to mark it with a revamp of the series… but their reasoning is all off the mark if you ask me. They’re attempting to appeal to a specific crowd, an older crowd… which means they’re tinkering. In attempting to redefine who will delight in the stories, they are fundamentally changing them… and the only reason to do so is the almighty dollar. A better market share among children. They even call it a “franchise”, which ought to be sounding alarm bells everywhere.
In their purest form, stories about Winnie the Pooh, the land of Narnia, Paddington Bear — and alright, even The Cat in the Hat — should be best delighted in as they were conceived, in print. Not in stuffed animals and pyjamas and lunchboxes and “sippy-cups” and the “Toy of the Week™” and backpacks and action figures and chewing gum and you name it, whatever else. By that time, the goal has clearly shifted from seeing children delight in the discovery of the stories, to become seeing shareholders delight in earnings reports. Bah. There’s already a curse on their household, no need to call one down, if you ask me.
So no, I don’t think I want to let Pooh’s girlfriend in the house. I’m not sure how I’m going to feel about the inevitable Narnia trinketry…. I’ll probably want to limit that too. Disney’s bound to screw it up, to commercialize it. In the CT article, Disney is quoted on this matter, but it’s such a non-comment, they should be ashamed. I guess I just don’t trust them. Are they safe? Who said anything about safe? No, of course they’re not safe… and we’re not so sure they’re even good anymore.
Hobbes over Aslan? It’s a tough call, but despite Aslan being a type of Christ, by the time Disney is through with him… it could just be Hobbes, hands down.