The Tao of Detective Pooh
February 27, 2010
I bought my toddler a pair of shoes last week in part because they were mondo cheap yet touted something environmentally friendly in their materials (to offset their ethically questionable manufacture and round-the-globe shipping), but mostly I bought them because they are decorated with Winnie the Pooh and Tigger identified as “Super Sleuths” and dressed in turtleneck sweaters crested hero-style with a question mark symbol.
Super Sleuths! It’s as if some rogue animator’s perverse design has been leaked to merchandising. The cognitive disconnect still has me reeling. As I recall them, Pooh likes long, languorous afternoons chin-deep in honey, and Tigger is unlikely to tame his fractured thoughts or spastic limbs long enough to ponder, much less resolve, life’s mysteries. I suppose that’s all filed away with “Classic Pooh” now, which seems to exist only in removable nursery-room wall appliqués.
It’s all part of Disney’s evolving character assassination of Winnie the Pooh that began when they annexed him. I’d noted with distaste the decidedly more caramel tones they were rendering him in, but since our TV package is the rock-bottom “broadcast cable,” I hadn’t kept up with further outrages via the Disney channel. Now I understand there is an animated series called My Friends Tigger & Pooh that has largely scrapped Christopher Robin in favor of a girl named Darby and her dog, Buster. Wikipedia fails me in this regard, noting only, “It is not known if Darby is related to Christopher Robin or just a friend of his.” Several show titles suggest that solving mysteries are a recurring plot device, among them “Darby Goes Woozle Sleuthin'” and “Porcupine’s Missing Flute.”
I have grown to love detective stories in my dotage, but there was something almost anti-plot about A.A. Milne’s Pooh stories that was of enormous comfort to me as a child. They seemed to rotate on the smallest of movements, a mild discomfort or curiosity that was relieved soon enough.
In Disney’s recent acquisition of Marvel, the high-ups from both sides have taken great pains to stress that nothing will change about the characters or their storylines as a result, that there will be no “Disneyfication” of Spiderman, Wolverine, and Ironman. (I almost wish they’d buy DC, too, thereby combining those universes legally and permanently so that every time my five-year-old puts Superman and Spidey together in a drawing or pretend play I don’t half-expect the arrival of a cease-and-desist order.) It’s also interesting to note that Disney is developing a video game called “Epic Mickey” that purports to hearken back to the original, edgier incarnation of the mouse, as if Disney has finally rankled at its own misappropriation of its keystone character.