Bang your head
December 15, 2003 7:15 PM   Subscribe

"It was really a tragedy waiting to happen...It might have been more appropriate to scoop and run to the emergency department. Orthopedic surgeons would have perhaps have had a better chance of putting Humpty Dumpty back together again." - Sarah M. Giles, co-author of Head injuries in nursery rhymes: evidence of a dangerous subtext in children's literature (appears in the latest Canadian Medical Association Journal).
posted by boost ventilator (9 comments total)
I haven't fully read the article, but I have noticed the extremely morose and morbid angle of many nursery rhymes. My wife becomes upset when I point out how awful some of the nursery rhymes are.

There's stories about being afraid of being eaten (Little Red Riding Hood), popular songs about accidents (Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed), even something that I haven't quite figured out yet, a pro-labor song (Johnny Works with One Hammer...)

Of that last one, I have done zero research, but I have one copy of the song sung by the Wiggles from the Disney Channel (from Australia) that is sung about a male protagonist (Johnny) who, at the end, "goes on strike." This is contrasted to the Americanized version, apparently, of Joanie, who "goes to sleep." That's something I should look in to.
posted by ajpresto at 7:26 PM on December 15, 2003

ajpresto, the American version is a right-to-work childrens' tale.
posted by trondant at 8:20 PM on December 15, 2003

On the subject of dark nursery rhymes, note that "Three Blind Mice" refers to the burning at the stake of three protestant clerics by the Catholic Queen Mary, and "Ring a ring of roses" refers to the Plague, which was thought to be carried by bad smells (and therefore be warded off with "a pocketful of posies") and had sneezing as an early symptom ("Atishoo, atishoo, we all fall down")
posted by Pericles at 2:39 AM on December 16, 2003

Snopes begs to differ.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 6:14 AM on December 16, 2003

That is worthy of a comedic stand up routine, including the pc version of medically sound nursery rhymes. Brill!

Those taking it to heart, should be advised not to read it due to a serious deficiency of humour.

These rhymes have nothing on Grimm's Fairy Tales. Again, not recommended for adults who take tales for kids too seriously and to heart. Repeat after me: it's only a fairy tale. The pc parent is trying to shield the child from the real world by cleaning up nursery rhymes now? Why's that? Does it prepare the child any better in the real world? What of imagination?
posted by alicesshoe at 7:09 AM on December 16, 2003

I didn't say that I wanted to clean them up. I was just saying that they're all particularly violent. If people complain about video games causing violent behavior (it doesn't) they should look at these violent stories.

And, yes, I did overgeneralize quite a bit.
posted by ajpresto at 7:53 AM on December 16, 2003

Yet another argument against socialized medicine.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 11:49 AM on December 16, 2003

When I was young, I used to like one of my parents' LPs called "Songs from the Veldt" I think and it had this one song with a beautiful melody about a baby that hinged on this chorus: "(something something something) and hit him on the head; throw him in the ditch and he'll be dead."

It was a group of white South Africans. I still don't know what the hell it was about. Creepy.
posted by kozad at 1:29 PM on December 16, 2003

I don't think Grimm's tales were intended for children. Back in the day, those would have been adult tales, imo.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:49 PM on December 16, 2003

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