Date: Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 9:12 PM
Subject: Speaking of classic books.....
I've attached and printed out here a paper I recently wrote on 'The Emperor's New Clothes.' If you think it relevant, I hope you pass it around. I even signed my name to it.
Also, some of the USS Liberty crew members are doing a mass emailing to Glenn Beck on MONDAY December 13th asking that he have the crew members on. This is a ONE day thing. His email is:
I hope you will consider sending this out to your trusted email list so they can each send their own emails. You'll at least get one from me! LOL
Beware of the Weavers
By Susan Purtee
This article is a comparison between two versions of the story, The Emperor's New Clothes; one by the original author, Hans Christian Andersen (1800s) and the other by Steven Spielberg (1998). Mr. Spielberg's version severely alters the original Andersen's unadulterated version, but why?
According to Wikipedia, Hollis Robbins, Hollis Robbins, in "The Emperor's New Critique" (2003), argues that the tale is itself so transparent "that there has been little need for critical scrutiny." Robbins argues that Andersen's tale "quite clearly rehearses four contemporary controversies: the institution of a meritocratic civil service, the valuation of labor, the expansion of democratic power, and the appraisal of art." Robbins concludes that the story's appeal lies in its "seductive resolution" of the conflict by the truth-telling boy.
In The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen (2008), folk and fairy tale researcher Maris Tatar offers a scholarly investigation and analysis of the story, drawing on Robbins's political and sociological analysis of the tale. Tatar points out that Robbins indicates the swindling weavers are simply insisting that "the value of their labor be recognized apart from its material embodiment", and notes that Robbins considers the ability of some in the tale to see the invisible cloth as "a successful enchantment."
David Spielberg's movie version, however, imparts different values. In his movie, with a star-studded cast, Spielberg plays up deceit, vanity, envy and a flurry of Jewish phrases woven not into a story to give children the courage to challenge authority but more to present kind and fair authority as being foolish. How did he do this?
To accomplish a change in the original version of the story by Andersen, Spielberg first changed the format of the story. Andersen's version was short and sweet: The Emperor was vain and some swindlers came to town with a plot to fool the Emperor with a wild story about some fabric they could weave that only those who were unfit for office or unforgivably stupid could not see. In Spielberg's version, a moth tells the story and every character in it, including a physician (played by Dr. Ruth Westheimer in the movie), Ladies in Waiting, a Prince and a Princess, a Wizard, and the Honest Boy (played by Steven Spielberg) are either envious of the Emperor or say nothing because they don't want to loose their job. The mirror, royal throne, his underwear and even the horn have an opinion. The horn states, "Trust me, you ain't seen nothing yet! Oy Vey." Some, like the Prime Minister named Cedric, want to embarrass the Emperor and take over the throne. Ah, the plot thickens.
In Andersen's story, only the Emperor was vain and everyone under his command pacified him because they thought something was wrong with them. Those that were sent by the Emperor to view the cloth thought they must be unfit or stupid if they could not see it. They questioned themselves and were afraid to let the Emperor know. Even the Emperor thought his eyes must be deceiving him when he could not see the cloth. In Spielberg's version, everyone was vain, jealous or condemning of the Emperor and did not tell the Emperor for their own, selfish reasons.
In Spielberg's version the 'swindlers' were now called 'weavers' and one was a man and the other a woman. They did not come to town, as Andersen's story states, to get some money out of the Emperor but came to town because the resentful Prime Minister sought them out while they were in jail for theft to hire them for the deception. It states, "The weavers began their presentation with lots of attitude, explaining that material of such a fine and rare nature could only be seen by visionaries gifted with true taste and imagination."
The physician said, "Ach, the people in this Empire are dummkopfs. They whine of aches and pains but they are as healthy as the oxen that pulled my father's plow back in Frankfurt." She refers to the Emperor with "Herr Emperor!" and the Empress, which was not in the original story, speaks French words and is translated into English with the comment, "For those who have been spared the rigors of intelligence, that's French for 'I'm the Empress.'" She also walked naked in the procession along with her husband.
The loom of Andersen's story that was a loom only, now talks in Spielberg's movie as the Spinning Wheel and calls itself the 'Wheel of Fortune.' There are several comparisons to other modern phrases such as when the Ladies in Waiting, jealous as they were that the Empress married the Emperor, refer to her as 'airhead, her royal bananahead, imperial nitwit, noble dummy, birdbrain boss, dingbat and loopiness.' None of these insults were used in Andersen's story.
In the movie, the Jester's talent is passing his "gift of gas" from his "musical behind" for the amusement of the Court. The Wizard is so deep that no one understands a word he says, which is similar to Alan Greenspan's comment that he used double speak, or Fed Speak as he called it, when giving his speeches on the economy.
Sprinkled into the movie version of the book, are bits of 'wisdom' such as the mirror that is perfect and shows the Emperor the truth, but he did not listen. The Honest Boy is a good example of this when he kicks his mother and whispers to her that the Emperor had no clothes on and she told him, "Shut up, already!" The Boy makes his way to the front of the crowd and YELLS it out.
The most striking difference between the book and the movie, however, is the ending. In Andersen's book, the vain Emperor heard that the 'swindlers' could make this magical cloth and he decided he would wear it for the next great celebration. In Spielberg's version, it was the Emperor's birthday. Perhaps this was done so that he could use phrases like 'birthday suit' for humor. In Andersen's book after the boy said, 'But he doesn't have anything on!' to his father, the Emperor realized there really was no cloth, yet he continued proudly walking in the procession until it was over.
In the movie, the Imperial General sprang into action and contrived a story for the Emperor by congratulating him "on his successful plan to uncover evil influences in the government!" and turn the tables on the Prime Minister and the weavers by exposing himself. Then the Emperor made the Honest Boy prime minister who then spoke to the crowd, "Yes, honesty's always the best policy: Tell the whole naked truth when you see what you see. But I'd never have learned that, I surely suppose, if I hadn't been wearing the Emperor's New Clothes."
Yes, this is a Jewish version of Hans Christian Andersen's kind and simple story and most of the " star-studded cast " in the movie were indeed Jewish but I believe the strongest message is at the end of the movie when the moth says it all: "Tell your parents to get rid of those moth balls and cedar chips and who knows? Maybe I'll wing by for a visit..."
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