A Cautious Man
December 11, 2005
"I Can't Seem To Find My Way Back To The Wood"
There's nothing like having an international mega-corporation do something that makes me sound like an old fart, but here goes anyway ...

"What the heck is the matter with you people?"
Maybe it's just the impossibly cozy nature of the 'hood, but for 80 years there has been no change in the resident line-up of the Hundred Acre Wood.

Guess who's coming for honey? As part of a barrel-full of Winnie the Pooh anniversary events, Disney is working on a new animated series that will replace Christopher Robin with a 6-year-old girl.

To quote one loquacious Rabbit: "Oh my, oh my, oh my goodness!"

Although the bear's party fare includes much Disney hoopla — anniversary-themed goods, Disney Channel marathons and a stage show that kicks off today in New York — the real bother is sure to be over tinkering with a classic.

Details are sketchy on the as-yet-nameless new arrival, who will make her debut in the 2007 computer-generated series My Friends Tigger and Pooh. Disney execs say the idea is to bring an older audience to an iconic franchise born when British author A.A. Milne began musing about the imaginary world of his son, Christopher Robin.

"We got raised eyebrows even in-house at first, but the feeling was these timeless characters really needed a breath of fresh air that only the introduction of someone new could provide," says Nancy Kanter of the Disney Channel.
This is from a news release from folks who (unlike others) are proud to say that they are from Mickey Mouse News.

I'm sorry, but I cannot fathom a mindset which reaches the conclusion that "timeless characters" are something which "needed a breath of fresh air".

Here's a little news for the folks at the Mouse Factory (who through cruel fate are the custodians of all that is Pooh) - the stories are constantly new. There are always new children to sit on someone's lap, and open a book, and begin to read -
HERE is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it.

And then he feels that perhaps there isn't. Anyhow, here he is at the bottom, and ready to be introduced to you. Winnie-the-Pooh.

When I first heard his name, I said, just as you are going to say, "But I thought he was a boy?"
"So did I," said Christopher Robin.
"Then you can't call him Winnie?"
"I don't."
"But you said--"
"He's Winnie-ther-Pooh. Don't you know what 'ther' means?"
"Ah, yes, now I do," I said quickly; and I hope you do too, because it is all the explanation you are going to get.
Sometimes Winnie-the-Pooh likes a game of some sort when he comes downstairs, and sometimes he likes to sit quietly in front of the fire and listen to a story. This evening--
"What about a story?" said Christopher Robin.
"What about a story?" I said.
"Could you very sweetly tell Winnie-the-Pooh one?"
"I suppose I could," I said. "What sort of stories does he like?"
"About himself. Because he's that sort of Bear."
"Oh, I see."
"So could you very sweetly?"
"I'll try," I said.
So I tried.

Once upon a time, a very long time ago now, about last Friday, Winnie-the-Pooh lived in a forest all by himself under the name of Sanders.
Well, you get the idea.

And the point, in case you still don't realize it, is that these "timeless characters" are either (a) brand new to the kids who discover them (or, more likely, who their parents share them with) or (b) comforting and familiar memories for old farts. The folks at Disney have to realize that if they feel the need to make new animated features, they have to maintain some shred of a connection to the original. Not every kid is lucky enough to meet Winnie, Piglet, Owl, Eeyore, etc. for the first time in a book. And I don't know why anyone would do something to cause a child to look up at his parent, and say, "Who's that kid Christopher Robin in this book? Where's that little girl who was in the cartoon?"

I'd hate to think that Disney would embark on a plan to create a generation of kids who would not grow up to know the meaning of this song (Oh, click the link before reading further, and turn your sound up) -
Christopher Robin and I walked alone
Under branches lit up by the moon
Posing our questions to Owl and Eeyore
As our days disappeared far too soon
But I've wandered much further today than I should
And I can't seem to find my way back to the woods

So help me if you can, I've got to get
Back to the house at Pooh Corner by one
You'd be surprised, there's so much to be done
Count all the bees in the hive
Chase all the clouds from the sky
Back to the days of Christopher Robin
...And Pooh.



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