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The Politically Correct Humpty Dumpty

Think that the ending of Humpty Dumpty is too harsh for little children? Change it! That's what the BBC's CBeebies programme Something Special did:

Instead of being unable to 'put Humpty together again', the new version claimed all the King's horses and all the King's men 'made Humpty happy again'. [...]

The Something Special show, presented by Justin Fletcher, is aimed at children with learning difficulties but is popular with all children under the age of five.

The BBC insisted the nursery rhyme was not modified due to its target audience and said it had only been changed for 'creative' purposes.

Was it political correctness or a sensible attempt to make the nursery rhyme more cheerful for kids? Link


If the show was targeting developmentally disabled kids, then it is by its very nature modifying regular children's programming. In this case there is no reason to take offense at the positive ending to the poem.

Further, all actions which could be construed as wimpy do not automatically equate with political correctness.
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I agree with Joe. I don't really care if the producers wanted a more cheery ending for their target audience, and calling it political correctness is nonsense. The Daily Mail thinks everything they object to is something to do with immigrants, single mothers, or PC gorn mad. For god's sake don't take them seriously.
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Is the Daily Mail the Fox News of the UK?

Maybe if the people who re-wrote the rhyme made an addition instead of a rewrite, it would be more appealing. Saying that they could put him together again raises an unrealistic expectation and faith in health care providers. If the King's horse can fix Humpty, then surely they could fix me.
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Evilbeagle, crying "political correctness" isn't any better than crying "racism." I don't see the logic behind your statement, unless it is a general one without anything to do with this article, in which case I would agree with you, while simultaneously wondering why you've posted your statement under this subject.

If you do somehow feel that this is a case of political correctness gone wild, perhaps you'd like to share the reasoning behind your belief.
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I take anything the Bile Duct (as it is known in our house) prints with a very large pinch of salt. I don't suppose this was intended to /replace/ the original. Things change over time and are adapted for modern uses and situations, but it's amazing how tenacious the originals are.

I shouldn't worry - I'm fairly sure which version will still be in use in another century.
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Humpty Dumpty was a political statement long before it became a nursery rhyme. The action of changing the ending is akin to rewriting history.
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@ted

"Is the Daily Mail the Fox News of the UK?"

You mean is it the only media outlet of its type that actually has an audience and gets decent ratings?

lol
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The original Humpty Dumpty poem does not specify that H.D. is an egg. The reason for this apparent omission is that when the rhyme was created in 1810, it was intended to be a RIDDLE for children (Humpty fell off a wall but couldn't be put together again - why would that be?).

So when the ending is changed to put H.D. back together, it destroys the original purpose of the word puzzle.
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Joe,

I would think that it's obvious. It's all part of sanitizing everything for the precious snowflakes and it's tiring. That is a part of being overly PC, not "making something more cheerful" because nothing negative is allowed to happen in the fantasy that people seem hell bent on creating for their children and for themselves about the world around them. I see it as being no better than revising history for PC purposes. Why change it? There is no point, and as Minnesotastan pointed out, it destroys the original meaning and makes it into something stupid and unrecognizable.

There was nothing wrong with it before.
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Another point to add: They were forced to change "Baa Baa Black Sheep" because some white person thought it was racist. Apparently, they thought it was somehow related to picking cotton. Everyone blindly and numbly went along with it and changed the color of the sheep. What I would like to know is what paranoid idiot thought this up, and why they think that wool and cotton have anything to do with one another.

All of this stuff falls under the same PC umbrella. Someone is always crying that they are offended because they look to be offended. Do you actually know a child that has been upset that Humpty Dumpty couldn't be put back together again?
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I remember, as a child, going into deep bouts of depression after reciting Humpy Dumpty because of how sadly it ended. I for one am thankful that someone had the sense to simply make HD unhappy at the story's end rather than smashed all over the ground like so much volleyball. Ugh, just thinking about it makes me want to go home and lie in bed all day with the lights off. Oh, and not eat eggs for like a week because that just stirs too many unpleasant memories. Gah, it's about time someone thought of the children.
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Screw that Egg. The original nursery rhymes are brutal.
Red Riding Hood dies
Hansel and Gretel get eaten
Boy who cried wolf got killed by the wolf
etc etc etc....

I'm with Beagle on this.
Whiney people who want to rose color the world doesn't change how brutal the world is.
It raises kids that won't be able to deal with it when they get out into it.
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Evilbeagle - "They were forced to change "Baa Baa Black Sheep" because some white person thought it was racist."

Were "they"? Not round here - it's still sung the old way in our area and I've never lived anywhere where it's actually sung as anything else. I've heard lots of noise about what "they" are "doing" to our culture, but rarely see any sign of it on the ground.
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This was in England, Skipweasel. There was a big to do about it in the news a few years back. It was ridiculous, really. A lot of local day care centres have decided that the sheep are some other color (pink was deemed offensive as well, because it alienated boys).
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Evilbeagle, even the Grimms rewrote Grimm's Fairy Tales -- a lot of those evil stepmothers were actually evil mothers in the original collected stories.
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That was three years ago. I bet they're reverted by now. Things like this don't last long - the wally in charge gets promoted and we all go back to the way things were before.
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And as for it being in England - I'm in England and have two kids not long out of nursery age and I've a) not met it in person and b) not actually met anyone else who has had direct experience of revised language being used /at ground level/.
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I always hit submit before I mean to, so sorry. While in many of the original tales, it was the mother and not the stepmother responsible for all the protagonist's woes, there is a whole new level of grisly in introducing the stepmother as the evil one. In the times when these tales were "new", women often died in childbirth, leaving their husbands to raise the children. When he remarried, the evil stepmother archetype developed because she would have wanted to put her own children with this husband first. So you have to wonder, if and when these tales were altered, if the Grimm's weren't trying to make them more cautionary than they already were.

These stories were told in different variations from region to region throughout Europe, and in some cases, beyond. When the Grimm's collected and wrote them down in the way we know them, they became the definitive versions. I was never a big fan of Disney because I heard the originals from my parents and grandparents before I saw Disney movies, which sanitized them beyond recognition and robbed them of the point they were attempting to make. More importantly, they robbed them of the fun.

The messing around with Humpty Dumpty, the Black Sheep, and other beloved tales and rhymes is just sad, really. Even if the cautionary aspect of the tale is no longer relevant (and in some cases, it is), the historical aspect always is, because it is a part of our past and culture. Whitewashing it isn't going to change it, and doing so also paints a false picture of what we've all come from.

Parents that want to shelter their children from even the most harmless nursery rhymes are doing their children a huge disservice. The minute they step out into the real world, they'll be in for a nasty surprise.
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OMG. Of all the controversial topics on Neatorama this week, Humpty Dumpty gets the most comment. This is depressing. I've seen ten different versions of ten different rhymes. There's nothing wrong with a rewrite to make it sound nicer or one to make it darker. Just enjoy. :p
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If you want to see how old fairy tales have subsequently been 'sanitzed', check out the original version of Rapunzel. What a slapper she was!
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Yep, change it so kids think that if they fall from a great height they'll be okay... brilliant! When I was a kid it was the thought of "not wanting to end up like Humpty Dumpty" that kept me well away from the edge of any high place!
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Just to really drive it home for the people who can't seem to grasp this fact - this is for a single show, for developmentally challenged children. Just in case you still don't get it, these children are what some might call "retards." Some will be a little slower than others. Some may do nothing but sit and drool.

This is for a single show targeted for these children, and has absolutely nothing to do with some sort of official Nursery Rhyme Commission coming in and changing your blessed nursery rhymes, which, as has been noted, have already been changed over and over.

This is much ado about nothing. Interestingly, Evilbeagle seems to be on the forefront of crying wolf.
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Joe...Why change it for "retards", as you so eloquently put it? What is the point, because it's not even "dumbing it down". I don't think it's crying wolf to find this annoying and have to wonder why you would defend it so rabidly. I'm not exactly taking to the streets with placards or boycotting CBeebies. It's just annoying and stupid that they would do this at all, no matter who it's aimed at.The changes that have taken place put it into the category of "practically unrecognizable", which is far more extreme than the changes that have already taken place over generations.

Whatever, dude, I see it as more coddling PC drivel and that's my problem with it more than anything else. You aren't going to change my mind and I could care less about changing yours. I'm just stating my opinion on the matter. No one has to like it.
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