Goldilocks – not recommended for children

It begins innocently enough with a small girl skipping merrily through the woods. Questions arise right from the start.. Did she go with parental approval or did she slip out without their consent? Either way this appears to be a case of parental neglect, bordering on child abuse. If she slipped out, why was the gate not locked.? How irresponsible of the parents to let a small child go off into the dangerous woods -and alone! Hopefully a nosey neighbour will dob them in to Child Welfare.

Did her parents never warn her about “stranger danger” and the risks inherent in going into other people’s houses? It is hard to restrain a horrified shudder as we learn of her barging into an unoccupied house.

Nor are the occupants of this house entirely blameless. Not only have they carelessly forgotten to lock the front door – and in an isolated location with no Neighbourhood Watch- but they have set off on an exhausting forest trek with a small infant before ensuring his nutritional needs have been met. So the porridge is too hot. Don’t they have any cold milk and Cocopops to sustain the little fellow? Child Welfare is going to have a busy time in this dysfunctional neck of the woods.

It gets worse. The story descends into a panegyric of theft ( she nicks the porridge) but also of vandalism ( she wrecks the joint). And where is the personal hygiene? Before tucking in she neither hand sanitises nor gives the utensils a wipe.

Finally this awful story degenerates into a celebration of failing to take responsibility for one’s behaviour, as Goldilocks does a bunk out of the window – silly girl was lucky not to break her neck – before facing up to merited punishment. The opportunity is missed to show the bears in a compassionate light. How morally uplifting to see Daddy Bear forgiving Goldilocks and escorting her home, chaperoned of course by Mummy Bear, safely to her parents.

This is a dreadful tale devoid of any morality. And what about the racial overtones? The flaxen-haired Teutonic girl and the ‘other’ whom we must assume are black or brown or a least tinted (there are no snowy polar bears in the woods, though global warming may change that).. All the bears seem able to do is ask stupid questions “Who’s been sitting in my chair?” and rolling their eyes.

Far safer to sing to your kids something like “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic”, a song which eschews social distancing – the bears’ parents are not stupid enough to let them into the woods alone but are happy to see them trot off in a tight cohort of their chums (no hint of any inter-species conflict here). And what a helpful conclusion to the day as the teddies go off willingly to a six o’clock bedtime. What a useful model!

ROBIN SEN

Sydney, September 2021

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