A toilet paper company, "Who gives a crap" transformed the setting of this epic children's story to a barren land. That completely transforms the essence of the story. Should this be allowed? A debate at the Young Writers' Club.
Who is Winnie The Pooh?
The epic children’s story series based on the extremely adorable character Winnie the Pooh and his friends has won the hearts of many children over generations. The stories are innocent, heart warming and promise a good dose of adventure that revolves around nature that is so beautifully captured by the 100 acre wood setting. Needless to say without that setting, the stories lose their essence is many ways.
The story series written by A.A Milne inspired by his son’s stuffed bear together, made its first appearance in the year 1926. His son, Christopher Robin was fascinated by a bear in London Zoo, with the name Winnie. The bear was tame and enjoyed the attention she got from visitors. Soon after, Christopher Robin named his stuffed toy bear as Winnie The Pooh. The “Pooh” reference came from a friend’s pet swan and got added to the bear’s name. A.A Milne is said to have drawn inspiration for the stories from watching his wife play with their son, bringing these toys to life in made up stories by giving everyone of them different voices too.
Several editions of the book have been published and Disney even made movies based on the books. That’s the legacy this story holds. Recently, a toilet paper company Who Gives a Crap, making eco-friendly toilet paper by reusing discarded paper and bamboo, launched a PR campaign in which transformed edition of the story of Winnie The Pooh and his friends showcases the 100 acre wood as a barren land. The trees are shown as stumps and the entire cast is at loss. The objective they claim is to show children and perhaps parents in the process that mindless deforestation can create a lot of havoc and sadness.
Reactions from young writers
Although all of teens knew Winnie The Pooh, only a few had grown up reading these stories. Hence to start with the connection wasn’t really strong. Hence we drew connections to each one of their favorites while growing up. Tom & Jerry, Oggy and the Cockroach, etc. came up as the prominent ones. When asked if these were chosen for a PR campaign and several fundamental changes were brought out, would that be acceptable?
Arguments in favor
Creative and clever use of a well known story- makes marketing so much easier.
An excellent way to convey an intended message with powerful impact.
In the context of the Winnie The Pooh series being used as in a campaign to spread awareness about deforestation, the campaign could end on a positive note suggesting to the readers that they have the power to bring back the 100 acre woods and restore the legacy of Winnie The Pooh.
Winnie The Pooh has been used extensively on children’s products especially diapers. Nothing demeaning about a toilet paper company to use this character in their campaigns.
Since the book is for small children, the expectation is that parents would be reading aloud to them. Hence, in the process even parents get sensitized about deforestation.
It is somewhat demeaning something that one has enjoyed watching or reading.
If one must use an epic story, the story mustn’t be changed entirely.
Should these stories be transformed to spread awareness at all? Isn’t that happening anyway in school?
Storybooks/movies are meant to entertain. Using them as tools to spread awareness takes away the fun that they offer. It is a meaningless exercise!
The discussion revealed how connections come along while we are growing up, some of them become stronger especially when they are associated with happy moments. When these connections get completely transformed for a totally different objective, it kills the joy, causing a very troubled feeling in our minds. It was comforting to know that I wasn’t alone in feeling troubled by the fact that an epic story such as Winnie The Pooh was getting transformed to something that I would be hesitant to pick up. If many think the way we do, how successful can awareness campaigns based on popular books/T.V shows be, especially if they are changing the very essence?
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