In his text Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, humorist James Finn Garner contemporizes several fairy tales of old, particularly the story of the three little pigs – or in this instance, “Three Vertically Challenged Pigs.” Garner’s approach is to satirize this story and provide perspective of today’s social structure through a unique lens. To accomplish this, he constructs new euphemisms for popular traditional metaphors. Altogether, this method is attention grabbing, it is somewhat flawed.
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This text can be viewed as a construction of several layers. At the very core lays the traditional folk story that society finds familiar, compact and succinct with flexible metaphors that can be applied as learning tools. This is just as any fairy tale. Garner’s sarcastic and fiery wit is layered on top of this, adding a particular voice to the story so that it may be told in a new way. While helping the story take on a new cover, the book itself is altogether unchanged and it remains the same. The third and final layer is where this piece begins to run awry. Garner applies a specific meaning into the integral characters of the piece, so far as to completely abandon suggested detail and create new aspects to the story. While this is the loudest aspect of the text, it is incredibly forced and preachy. Why does Garner side step the word “brick” with “dung, clay, and creeper vines shaped into bricks and baked in a small kiln?” As well, the re-characterization of the wolf’s “manifest destiny” and “massive heart attack brought on by eating too many fatty foods,” in tandem with the pigs’” a model socialist democracy with free education, universal health care, and affordable housing for everyone” completely abandons the moral lessons of the original moral lesson. Thus the effect of this retelling loses the high stakes with which it opens. In his own way, Garner huffs and puffs, but fails to blow down anything at all.
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