Censorship Is Back

I have to confess, I’ve had it up to here with the politically correct police (and my “here” is any place you’d like to picture on my body).  Last week, there was a heated debate about “fat shaming” in the classic Roald Dahl books.  Some of the passages that caused concern included the depiction of the Oompa-Loompas (which Dahl himself changed in later editions from African pygmies to Caucasian little people).  Then there was Augustus Gloop, who was changed from “fat” to “enormous” (I’ll be the judge of that).  One line in James and the Giant Peach came under fire: “Aunt Sponge was terrifically fat, and tremendously flabby at that.”  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has this offensive bit of prose: “The man behind the counter looked fat and well-fed.  He had big lips and fat cheeks and a very fat neck.”  What’s wrong with that, asks someone who just saw a film called The Whale

Even the iconic James Bond is not safe.  A new edition of Ian Fleming’s 007 books is being readied for the 70th anniversary.  These volumes include some sanitized language and eschew certain circumstances.  They also carry the following disclaimer: “This book was written at a time when terms and attitudes which might be considered offensive by modern readers were commonplace.”  This begs the question – when was Octopussy commonplace?

I know that words and sensitivities change over time.  We’ve heard calls for censoring Mark Twain, Harper Lee, and even Margaret Mitchell.  Apparently some of these cries for rewriting have actually been heeded.  Did you know that in 1969, Pippi Longstocking underwent some racial cleansing in Sweden?  Well, you know…Swedes!  Closer to home, my beloved Nancy Drew went through a bit of “whitewashing” regarding some of the depictions of African Americans in 1959.  I hope nobody laid a hand on those nice, wholesome Hardy Boys.  They’re all mine!


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