Dr Melissa Derby is a no-nonsense part-maori university academic mate of mine.
Melissa shares my anathema to fashionable nonsensical group think, a specialty of Auckland university.
The Roald Dahl saga has had lots of coverage but below are Melissa’s observations on it anyway.
She’s more polite than me, however, in response to her title query, “When Will This Madness End?” I can answer that.
It will end when we introduce public flogging for purported academics talking tosh.
DR MELISSA DERBY: Roald Dahl rewritten: when will this madness end?
“Augustus Gloop is no longer fat, Mrs Twit is no longer fearfully ugly, and the Oompa-Loompas have gone gender-neutral”.
Yes, you read that right – the latest body of work to fall prey to the cancel culture busy bodies is that of children’s literary genius, Roald Dahl.
Like so many children, I grew up on Roald Dahl books, with my son recently reading (for the third time) my well-worn, dog-eared copy of The Twits – a book, I have discovered in adulthood, that’s as funny to read aged 41 as it was when I first read it, aged 6. My son, when he got to the final chapter, exclaimed ‘This is so funny! I don’t want it to end!’
At a time when literacy rates across the country are plummeting, and children who read for pleasure are as rare as a conservative in a humanities department, why, oh why, are we messing with the classics?!
While we can debate whether it’s appropriate or not to refer to someone as “fat” (with the holier-than-thou judgment coming down from Dahl’s publishing company noting it most certainly is not appropriate), we have got to the point that, in James and the Giant Peach, Miss Spider’s head is no longer “black” and the Earthworm has given up its “lovely pink” skin for “lovely smooth skin”. Last I checked, spiders are often black, if the ones that make a most unwelcome appearance in my home are anything to go by, and earthworms often appear pink in colour. Are the words “pink” and “black” to be [insert any colour but black or pink]-listed?
The word “black” took another hit, having been removed from the description of the terrible tractors in Fantastic Mr. Fox. The machines are now simply “murderous, brutal-looking monsters”. What if, in Roald Dahl’ imagination, the tractors were black? A rather pertinent question to ask is ‘what was going through the censors’ heads if they felt the word ‘black’ was inappropriate here?’ I’m sure that question would make the so-called anti-racist zealots squirm.
Another change is presumably meant to empower women – in The Witches, the wording has shifted from “even if she is working as a cashier in a supermarket or typing letters for a businessman” to “even if she is working as a top scientist or running a business”. As a girl who devoured Roald Dahl books over and over, I was never ‘limited’ by the original text. Rather, it was my parents who took responsibility for broadening my horizons, not Roald Dahl.
When will this madness end?
I could list other egregious changes, but why bore us all with the nit-picking of the miserable, vocal few? Instead, I’ll continue to read my original copies of Dahl’s stories with my son so that he can enjoy them in their lively, edgy, wonderfully colourful glory, just as I did.
Ok Bob how can we organise these public floggings to end this madness
Not only the people talking tosh that need flogging but also those that enact on such behavioral rubbish
This has been around since the 60s or 70s. I remember reading a book in the 7th Form about some airmen in a crash in the bush. It was entirely predictable and pushing an obvious moral (obey the rules) and hence completely boring.. All the talk from that period on about why kids stopped reading (TV, comics, video games, short attention spans) ignored the fact that there weren’t any exciting books. When Harry Potter came along in the 90s nobody made the connection, even as kids queued up around the block to get the latest 900 page tome 🙂 Harry Potter is pure kids adventure story, no more than Boys Own Paper stories, Biggles, Roald Dahl and all the rest. I think just about everyone laughed at the religious people babbling on about glorifying witchcraft, adults applying their perspectives to kids activities. But I suppose that takes us to the modern ‘tranny’ phenomenon and I won’t go there…
The world is mad. These fun busting morons should be put in the stocks for public ridicule, not merely flogged. Instead they will be gobbling at the trough of university “academia” for all of their miserable lives.
Splendid! Dr. Derby talks sense. You can go to change.org at –
– and petition against the changes.
And just like that a new industry has been re-born. One where you can buy the un-censored (written as intended) copy and the censored copy (full of PC BS and officially distributed in all libraries, schools, etc.). Yep, madness. So much for saving the planet and our sanity and all that.
George Orwell would not be surprised. We already have the surveillance society, the Media routinely switch from one collective enemy to another & now the thought police are attacking language. In the words of Winston Smith “Double Plus Ungood”
Oh dear, my upbringing on Biggles books will have to be corrected. Imagine a world without Ginger (perhaps he can be renamed Harry?) No more fighting the hun or fuzzy wuzzies and doubtless Biggles and Algies “good chaps” friendship will be elevated to something approaching Brokeback Mountain.