July 19, 2002
There's nothing like the classics.
Apparently even the classics are nothing like the classics anymore.
A theatre company in England is putting on a
production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Except it isn't The
Hunchback of Notre Dame anymore. After consulting a "disability
advisor", the producer decided to change the name of the play
from The Hunchback of Notre Dame to The Bellringer of Notre Dame.
The details are sketchy, but the name change
was done because the theatre company didn't want to upset people
with scoliosis, which causes curvature of the spine and in extreme
cases, a hunchback.
Now, no one wants to make fun of anyone with
a disability, but I sort of thought the whole point of The Hunchback
of Notre Dame was to show how someone who is ugly on the outside can
be beautiful on the inside. The lesson was so obvious that even
Disney got it right in their cartoon.
So I suppose we're going to see a few
rewrites of other classics in the future.
Treasure Island is a great story about
pirates, but unfortunately one of them is referred to as having a
peg leg, which could be considered offensive. There's also someone
with an eye patch, which could upset advocates for the visually
impaired. The singing of "Yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum"
will no doubt cause concern among those who are worried that it may
encourage teenage drinking.
In keeping with the pirate theme, Peter
Pan's arch enemy, Captain Hook, will now have to be referred to as
Captain Digitally Challenged. In fact, we may have to do away with
pirate references altogether. From now on they will have to be
called "Seafaring Entrepreneurs" to avoid the unpleasant
stigma associated with the true pirates who recently ran Enron and
MCI Worldcom and are now in front of the US Congress pleading the
With the growing acceptance of the Wiccan
religion, any negative portrayal of witches or warlocks in books
like The Wizard of Oz will likely result in a complaint to the Human
Rights Commission. The stereotyping of witches as people who are
wicked or lure children into gingerbread houses would certainly
create a poisoned work environment for them.
Likewise, the current popularity of TV
vampires will require a substantial rewrite of Bram Stoker's Dracula
to show the bloodsucker in a more positive light. Remember,
vampirism is a condition that also calls for our understanding and
support, and not a stake through the heart.
Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein will have
to be renamed due to the stigma now attached to his name. Rather
than a tale of man's vanity in trying to play God with horrible
results, Dr. Victor Frankenstein will be portrayed as a doctor ahead
of his time in his commitment to recycling. The title of the new
novel will be, "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle". Frankenstein's
monster will also be given new life as a poster boy for organ
There are hundreds of other childhood
favourites that may run afoul of modern sensitivities, whether it's
Little Women offending the vertically challenged, or The Little
Engine That Could making those engines that can't feel inadequate.
I'm not sure where it will all end, but if I
were you, I'd head down to the library right away to get them before