Childhood Classics: Should They Be Changed or Left Alone?

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After learning about the intended release of a shocking horror film, I bring my thoughts about childhood classic stories and characters and whether they should be changed or stay the way they were initially created.

I thought I was dreaming or maybe a bit hungover when I woke up at 5am and saw the news. I had dozed off and awoke to find my fairy lights still on, my moon lamp dimming, and my sea projector sending blue waves onto the ceiling. I needed to switch everything off before going back to sleep.

Out of pure habit, I decided to check TikTok, and as I scrolled through the videos, a post from ITV caught my attention. It was talking about an upcoming movie and called it ‘Winnie-the-Pooh, the horror movie.’

Naturally, I was very confused. We all know who Winnie-the-Pooh is; the ‘bear with very little brain’ who lives in the Hundred Acre Wood and adores honey. Now, all of a sudden, he was in a horror movie? I thought it was just a silly joke. Or maybe my mind was a bit fuzzy. But when I looked it up properly, I realized that I was very wrong.

The famous bear with very little brain, Winnie-the-Pooh

As it turned out, there was indeed a horror due for release called Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey. Apparently, the story goes like this: Christopher Robin leaves his childhood friends behind as he grows up and leaves for college, something that we all do in life. But this doesn’t sit well for those he leaves behind. Feeling abandoned, and without food, Pooh and Piglet revert to their animal ways; they become completely feral and unhinged, killing their friends in order to survive. When Christopher Robin does eventually return with his new wife, the unhinged Pooh and Piglet go on a murderous rampage, targeting several college girls who are staying in a rural cabin. (That old cliche is never going to die.)

The promotional poster for the new Winnie-the-Pooh horror movie.

To put it very simply, I was shocked. This is Winnie-the-Pooh – the bear with very little brain who lives in the 100 Acre Wood, plays with Piglet, Tigger, Rabbit, Eeyore, Owl, Kanga and Roo! His best friend is Christopher Robin and he absolutely adores honey! I think I just outed myself as somebody who loves Winnie-the-Pooh, didn’t I?

It’s just… Winnie-the-Pooh has been a part of my life ever since I was a baby. When I was very little, my bedroom had Winnie-the-Pooh wall stickers on the wall. I had an electronic Winnie-the-Pooh bear that came with its own honey pot that he would ‘eat’ from. I had the Pooh’s Friendly Places and Honeypot playsets as toys; they were my favorite things to play with. One of my favorite Disney movies is Pooh’s Grand Adventures – The Search for Christopher Robin. In my favorite video game series Kingdom Hearts, one of the worlds that you could visit was the 100 Acre Wood where you could interact with all of the different characters. So… yes, I certainly love Winnie-the-Pooh and I am currently finding it very hard to see him reimagined as a feral bloody horror killer.

I’ve looked at a few times where classics were reimagined by authors and creators. There have been several parodies and mock-ups of different stories released over the last few years. There was a time when I visited the Chapters bookstore in Dublin, to enjoy the chance of buying books at a low price. Well, that time I was browsing the shelves and found a variety of classic parodies.

A sample of ‘reimagined’ classics on sale.

I saw these books for sale and I was disgusted.

Disgusted.

It wasn’t just the style of the covers that horrified me, it was the fact that all of the stories had been modified and made more sexual. Basically, classics such as Jane Eyre and The Great Gatsby had been turned into porn.

Many authors were trying to cash in on what I consider the black mark in the world of literacy, that God-awful Fifty Shades series. The ‘love story’ of a controlling stalker and a co-dependent gold digger inspired a lot of authors to write their own little stories that were similar in taste. That aspect, I can understand, but did they have to touch classic stories like these?

Seriously?

Authors such as Charlotte Bronte and Oscar Wilde are long since gone, so technically, nothing can be done to prevent people re-writing their stories. I can understand in a way; sometimes, I see a story that there are elements that I don’t like and I feel I could change them. But… I feel there is a limit. I wouldn’t go so far as to change the main character into a bloody killer or shape the story to revolve around sex. That’s taking a little too far, for me anyway.

The problem is that stories such as Winnie-the-Pooh now reside in the public domain, they’re no longer protected by copyright law. In the United States, copyright law is usually limited to the life of the creator, plus 70 years after their death. Or in more simple terms, copyright of created content expires 70 years after the creator’s death. And since A.A. Milne has been dead since 1956…. you get the idea.

Now that the copyright law has expired on Winnie-the-Pooh, the public can do whatever they want with the character. But I refuse to see Winnie-the-Pooh as anything other than the bear-with-very-little-brain. This is one horror movie that I will definitely not be watching!

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