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aruna
10-19-2009, 03:54 PM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/6359248/Noddy-returns-without-the-golliwogs.html

Political correctness gone too far, or a good move to "avoid controversy"?


Noddy returns without the golliwogs

Noddy returns to Toyland later this month in the first official new book for more than 45 years, but the golliwogs have been banished from his circle of friends.


In a bid to avoid any controversy for Noddy's 60th birthday, the golliwogs will not appear in the latest book. Enid Blyton's granddaughter, Sophie Smallwood, who wrote the new adventure, had considered including the characters but decided it would be too controversial – a decision which has been described as "unnecessary" by fans of the series.


As a child, I devoured all the Noddy books and was never upset by the presence of Golly. I don't remember the villainous gollies at all.
I was more upset but the absense of any black characters in most childrens' books of the time. I think they should keep Golly; it would only be racist if all the gollies were "bad", but Golly was Noddy's best friend. Having an all-white cast of characters is far more racist.


The dolls were popular at the time that the stories were written, but were later considered racist, prompting publishers to reissue the books replacing the golliwogs with other characters, with the white-faced Mr Sparks becoming the proprietor of the garage and the evil goblins Sly and Gobbo becoming Toyland's main villains.

Susan Gable
10-19-2009, 04:17 PM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/6359248/Noddy-returns-without-the-golliwogs.html

Politcal correctness gone too far, or a good move to "avoid controversy"?

.

I vote for the first.

I have a Gollywog doll I got on my first trip to England when I was 6 years old. I don't remember him being a villian, either.

Susan G.

aruna
10-19-2009, 04:26 PM
hmm. title of the thread is a bit off. Should read "Noddy books" instead of "Enid Blyton books". Not all her books had Gollies, and she didn't write the new books anyway!

Misa Buckley
10-19-2009, 04:27 PM
I'm not sure where I sit on this one. Gollywogs remind me of the Black-and-White Minstrals, where white people blacked up, and that makes me feel uneasy.

However, in this case I do think that having no coloured characters is a bad thing.

There needs to be more diversity in children's books, and I mean that across the board.

seun
10-19-2009, 04:36 PM
What next? Get rid of all the posh dickheads Blyton's books are full of?

"I say, Julian. A poor person asked me for tuppence yesterday."
"Really, Dick? Whatever did you do?"
"Why, I reported him to the constable, of course. Then I had a scrumptious tea of cake with lashings of ginger ale."

dpaterso
10-19-2009, 04:39 PM
hmm. title of the thread is a but off. Should read "Noddy books" instead of "Enid Blyton books". Not all her books had Gollies, and she didn't write the new books anyway!
That better?

-Derek

aruna
10-19-2009, 05:36 PM
I'd be all for seeing Golly brought into this century, with a more realistic appearance and costume (plenty of black dolls don't look like golliwogs). I think the book took the easy route by removing him. However, I do think it was right of the author to consider how things have changed. It's one thing to accept something in its historical context (the old books), but another to say it should be allowed to continue (in the new books) because it was acceptable in the past.

I agree with this, though I think the author made the wrong choice by cutting the black character out altogether.

ChristineR
10-19-2009, 07:45 PM
Golliwogs are deeply offensive to a large segment of the population, and this is a book for preschoolers. I don't see how you can cast this as political correctness. People simply wouldn't buy the books if it had those images in it. And most toddlers have never seen a golliwog doll nowadays anyhow.

As far as children reading the books in context, they can always look at the originals when they're old enough to understand the whole history of race and golliwog dolls.

I think that people are reading this from their own point of view--when you were little, you liked the books, and knew what a golliwog was, and didn't see it as an offensive stereotype. Children who have never seen it won't know it's missing.

Kitty Pryde
10-19-2009, 07:45 PM
Yeah, the best choice would be to change the characters to be black english dolls who look like people (as much as noddy looks like a person!). But in 2009 there's no way you can publish a new book with that golliwog image in it--an image that has its roots in decades of racist iconography. There's no reason for kids to have toys or book characters that consist of outlandish and offensive racist stereotypes. Just because things are beloved doesn't mean they are good.

I don't think it's PC gone too far, and I don't think it's done to avoid controversy. I think it was done because racist imagery is hurtful to little kids, and kid's books shouldn't hurt little kids.

raburrell
10-19-2009, 07:58 PM
My son just started watching this recently, and I was a little surprised to see the two goblin-type characters (Sly and Gobbo, I think?) Maybe it's just me, but they seemed kind of Shylocky and antisemitic. I don't tend to get too uptight about 'PC' type debates one way or the other, but this one caught me by surprise.

CaroGirl
10-19-2009, 08:42 PM
kid's books shouldn't hurt little kids.
Unless it's through paper cuts and sharp corners.

Isn't racism associated with the very name "golliwog?" Wasn't that the origin for the extremely derogatory term "wog?" Might be a bit akin to having a book for children with characters called Chink, Jap and Spic, no?

aadams73
10-19-2009, 09:02 PM
This is honestly just ridiculous. It's a kid's book. I read the originals and I never thought there was any link between gollywogs and black people. I was smart enough to know they were just toys like the rest of the characters.

I was also disgusted when I bought new editions of the Faraway Tree books and discovered that Fanny and Dick are now Franny and Rick. All these politically correct do-gooders need to find another hobby--maybe something positive like volunteer work.

veinglory
10-19-2009, 09:09 PM
No link between golliwogs and black people?

Personally I would leave that determination to black people but I see them as an objectification of a racial stereotype that has thankfully gone extinct, and this is part of it.

Noddy's friends represent common toys, the golliwog is no longer a common toys and most kids wouldn't even know what it was. It is no loss. People who like the old versions can collect vintage copies.

CaroGirl
10-19-2009, 09:23 PM
Old versions of fairy tales and children's stories are often updated to be more modern and appealing to a changing audience. Take Nancy Drew, for example. She's recently undergone a major overhaul that includes the addition of a cell phone and a hybrid car. She's also gone to college. This reflects the modern girl while it maintains Nancy and her stories as true "girl power," with strong moral values.

I think, as long as the essence of Noddy as a character and the values he represents aren't affected by the modernization of the stories, go for it. Why not update it to appeal to modern children? Whether removing or renaming the gollywog character is best way to update the stories, however, is debatable.

Evaine
10-22-2009, 12:10 AM
It must have been a slow news day at the Telegraph! The golliwogs were replaced by goblins twenty years ago!

The Noddy books aren't the only Enid Blyton books that have seen revisions over the years, either. She wrote one book for small children called "Dame Slap and Her School".
It's now called "Dame Tickle and Her School".

bsolah
10-22-2009, 08:32 AM
No link between golliwogs and black people?

Personally I would leave that determination to black people but I see them as an objectification of a racial stereotype that has thankfully gone extinct, and this is part of it.

QFT.

Golliwogs are another racist stereotype. It's not 'political correctness' - it's just not being an offensive racist git. If you find that an attack on your 'freedom' to be offensive than you obviously have no understanding of the oppression and racism that minority racial groups face.

Steam&Ink
10-22-2009, 09:27 AM
OK, so I remember a charmingly illustrated children's book called "Little Black Sambo" from when I was a five. I don't think it bred any discriminatory thoughts into me as a five-year-old, but I can't deny that it's a racial stereotype and the phrase "Black Sambo" typifies early paternalistic and racist attitudes towards Africans.

I don't, however, think these old books need to censored - but I also don't see the good in perpetuating the stereotype in new books. No child will be hurt by not reading about the Golliwogs in a new Blyton book.

Steam&Ink
10-22-2009, 09:29 AM
The Noddy books aren't the only Enid Blyton books that have seen revisions over the years, either. She wrote one book for small children called "Dame Slap and Her School".
It's now called "Dame Tickle and Her School".

It would have been "Dame Slappentickle" but that would have been X-Rated... :evil

Priene
10-22-2009, 09:51 AM
Just a little perspective, because words can have different meanings in different countries. In the UK, the term wog is highly offensive. It may come from golliwog (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wog), although it's not certain. It's inconceivable that a UK publisher would use the term in an entertainment context.

Stijn Hommes
10-22-2009, 03:49 PM
I was also disgusted when I bought new editions of the Faraway Tree books and discovered that Fanny and Dick are now Franny and Rick. All these politically correct do-gooders need to find another hobby--maybe something positive like volunteer work. I guess now we know why Dick and Dom in da Bungalow got cancelled...

I'll be forwarding this one to Lenore Skenazy (if you don't know here, try google). I'm sure she'll have an apt response to this madness.

Priene
10-22-2009, 04:37 PM
I read the originals and I never thought there was any link between gollywogs and black people.

You obviously never stood on a football terrace listening to morons chanting Wogs out.

aruna
10-22-2009, 04:53 PM
See, where I grew up wog wasn't an insulting word. And back in the 50's -- which was the decade I read those books -- nobody thought to be offended by golliwogs, least of all we children.
What I do remember from Enid Blyton, though, was that there never was even one little black girl in all those books. And I remember particularly one Famous Five book in which Anne was startled in her sleep by a Face at the Window. She was so scared she wet her knickers and next day she said to Julian: "Oh, Julian, it was so terrifying, and what if it was a black man?"
I never forgot that sentence.

veinglory
10-22-2009, 06:17 PM
And "wog" is certainly offensive now. It was at best subtly demeaning then too IMHO.

Bushdoctor
10-22-2009, 06:31 PM
This is a no brainer. A childrens book shouldnt have anything remotely deemed offensive whether we are talking about race, sexuality, religion and so on.

I believe children should be free to develop their own stereotypes later on in life, unlike the rest of us who had them shoved down our throats

ChristineR
10-22-2009, 08:52 PM
Interesting note. Most Americans have never heard the term wog, and if they have heard, they've only heard it used by Scientologists to mean people who haven't yet discovered how wonderful Scientology is supposed to be. Scientology critic Mark Bunker blogs about it here (http://xenutv.wordpress.com/why-wog/). He was in the habit of referring to himself cheerfully as a wog, and had no idea that anyone other than Scientologists would care.

Evaine
10-22-2009, 11:24 PM
Steampunkette remembers Little Black Sambo - but Little Black Sambo was actually a tribal child from South India, not a black African child. Hence the tigers which were a major part of the first story. Helen Bannerman, the author and illustrator, lived in the area for some years. Also, there were no white people depicted in the stories, and Little Black Sambo achieved what he wanted to do by his own cleverness, which is a positive message (he made the tigers run round and round the tree until they turned into butter).

The golliwogs in Enid Blyton stories, by contrast, were the only black faces in a mainly white Toy Town - and they were almost always portrayed in a negative way - trying to steal Noddy's car, for instance.

By the way, do Noddy and Big Ears still go to bed together in the new version?

Steam&Ink
10-23-2009, 01:08 AM
Steampunkette remembers Little Black Sambo - but Little Black Sambo was actually a tribal child from South India, not a black African child. Hence the tigers which were a major part of the first story. Helen Bannerman, the author and illustrator, lived in the area for some years. Also, there were no white people depicted in the stories, and Little Black Sambo achieved what he wanted to do by his own cleverness, which is a positive message (he made the tigers run round and round the tree until they turned into butter).


LOL, I guess that makes sense with the tigers!! - I remember the butter story.

Black Sambo being represented as using his own cleverness notwithstanding, I doubt we would be happy with such a book today, which still embodies the paternalistic stereotypes I was talking about.

Steam&Ink
10-23-2009, 01:12 AM
The phrases "It's just harmless fun" and "That's political correctness gone mad" are interesting.
How rarely they are used by the people who are actually the butt of the joke or being singled out as different.

bsolah
10-23-2009, 03:47 AM
By the way, do Noddy and Big Ears still go to bed together in the new version?

Ah, I remember this.

Funny how most people who want to keep golliwogs in, often want to remove this though.

I think they've taken this out, unfortunately. I'm for keeping this in.

ChristineR
10-23-2009, 04:07 AM
Here's (http://www.massey.ac.nz/~wwexmss/Offcampus/August%202003/bookreview.htm) a before and after version of Noddy in bed with Big Ears. Noddy got moved to an easy chair.

I have to say, the very fact that so many people are commenting that there's no problem with this scene either sort of proves to be that this scene was a problem for a lot of people, same as the Golliwogs.

aruna
10-23-2009, 12:00 PM
The thing that strikes me about this is you know what Blyton was like. Her attitudes hurt you enough that you remember the Famous Five line years later. Noddy is aimed at a younger audience, so its message is wrapped in a happy fun toytown veneer, but that message is still just as racist as her other books.

I never read The Three Golliwogs. As a little black girl in a MAJORITY black society I had no problem with a black doll in the Noddy books - it seemed normal to me, unwaware as I was of any controversy - and the word Gollywog, in those days, was not yet offensive. Why should I be hurt by the presence of a black character? As long as Golly was kind and good - which he was - and even had his own garage, I see no problem with him. It's only later, in the wake of black anger and awareness of sterotypical depictions of black characters, that the problem arises.

Again, I find it terrible and extremely racist that Golly should be replaced with a white Mr Sparks. Once again, an all-white cast of characters! If a coal-black Golly was too dangerous then they could at least have given us a brown fella.

Evaine
10-23-2009, 04:43 PM
Thinking about it, both Enid Blyton's golliwogs and Little Black Sambo belong to a previous generation. Where are the modern characters in children's books who happen to be black or brown?
I can think of a few picture books I've seen, and a few chapter books for younger children, but no character really stands out like the Enid Blyton golliwogs did.

Cyia
10-24-2009, 12:03 AM
Thinking about it, both Enid Blyton's golliwogs and Little Black Sambo belong to a previous generation. Where are the modern characters in children's books who happen to be black or brown?
I can think of a few picture books I've seen, and a few chapter books for younger children, but no character really stands out like the Enid Blyton golliwogs did.

Have you seen the retelling of LBS that came out in the 90's?

Sam and the Tigers (http://www.amazon.com/Sam-Tigers-Telling-Little-Black/dp/0803720289)

veinglory
10-24-2009, 12:38 AM
In the non-white category, Dora the Explorer comes to mind.

WittyandorIronic
10-24-2009, 01:34 AM
OK, so I remember a charmingly illustrated children's book called "Little Black Sambo" from when I was a five. I don't think it bred any discriminatory thoughts into me as a five-year-old, but I can't deny that it's a racial stereotype and the phrase "Black Sambo" typifies early paternalistic and racist attitudes towards Africans.

I don't, however, think these old books need to censored - but I also don't see the good in perpetuating the stereotype in new books. No child will be hurt by not reading about the Golliwogs in a new Blyton book.
I loved that book, though it was old when I was little. My mother was horrified when I tried to name our black Labrador puppy Sambo, which sort of makes me chuckle now - but illustrates the point that any stereotypical concept can inadvertently (or intentionally) be applied in other areas of a child's life. I agree that older versions should not be censored, but that doesn't mean that new versions can't update to today's norms and mores, sans the racist iconography.


Steampunkette remembers Little Black Sambo - but Little Black Sambo was actually a tribal child from South India, not a black African child. Hence the tigers which were a major part of the first story. Helen Bannerman, the author and illustrator, lived in the area for some years. Also, there were no white people depicted in the stories, and Little Black Sambo achieved what he wanted to do by his own cleverness, which is a positive message (he made the tigers run round and round the tree until they turned into butter).
I never knew that Sambo was supposed to be from South India, but I agree that as a story it was relatively positive, if (as stated before) paternalistic.


In the non-white category, Dora the Explorer comes to mind.
Handy Manny, Lilo & Stitch, and several other less popular shows. Much of the Pokemon/Ben 10/Yu-Gi-Oh is white-ish kids in the midst of Anime.

Then again... currently the most popular cartoon is about a sponge... how does that classified?

aruna
10-24-2009, 01:49 PM
In the non-white category, Dora the Explorer comes to mind.


Checked it out, and it's a cartoon character. I'm wondering myself if there are any mainstream books for children with non-white characters in the main roles, and I did a bit of research this morning. The Harry Potter books, for example, have a couple of non-white characters, I discovered. But how many books are there with non-whites as the actual hero/ine?
I found this list, (http://www.elp-web.com/pages/subject/childrens_books/childrens_diversity.htm) but the books there seem to be mainly educational, about children from different parts of the world.

That reminds me of geogrpahy classes when I was 7 or 8. We learned about children from different parts of the world: a boy from Baffin Island, Pedro from Argentina, an Indian girl --- and an African boy called Bombo. Bombo had an enormous influence on my early sensitivities to race. For a start, he represented a whole CONTINENT rather than just a country. He was mostly naked, wearing just a loin-cloth, and lived in a little grass hut in a village.. his parents had no money, but were farmers and everything was very -- primitive.

This was the curriculum straight from England, which schoolchildren in all her colonies studied.

Anyway, I thought that was what "Africa" was like. When I was ten I went to school in England and one of the first co-pupils I met was a white girl called Angela Relton. When we introduced herself she announced, "I'm from Africa!" and I was flabbergasted. I just did not know that there could be white people, wearing clothes, from Africa!

Marian Perera
10-24-2009, 02:40 PM
I was also disgusted when I bought new editions of the Faraway Tree books and discovered that Fanny and Dick are now Franny and Rick.

In the new edition of First Term at Malory Towers, Darrell doesn't slap Gwendoline... because slapping is bad, I guess. Which misses the point of that scene.

Evaine
10-24-2009, 04:26 PM
I had a look at the Sam and the Tigers link, and it looks like a good, and fun, re-telling of the story.
BUT - why, oh, why do American authors ALWAYS seem to re-locate stories to America?
What was wrong with India as the setting? That's where the tigers are.

Kitty Pryde
10-24-2009, 07:49 PM
OK, there are a handful of picture books with children of color. (Literally all the little kids I know among family and friends are children of color, so I'm always looking for good ones.) My niece is half latina and half african-american, AND she likes fantasy-type stories, so I stay on the lookout for those kinds of books. If you were interested, there is only one (ONE!) fantasy picture book featuring a girl of color (excluding retelling of myths and legends, though those are few and far between too)--Raising Dragons. It's awesome, but it's kinda unfortunate that all the riding on dinosaurs and exploring magical kingdoms and such is done by white boys. But that's a derail for another day.

Some others: Ezra Jack Keats has a large collection of beautiful and timeless picture books about children of color living in an urban setting. And by other authors: Kitchen Dance, A Chair For My Mother, I Love My Hair!, Happy to be Nappy, Too Many Tamales, Please Baby Please...Jane Yolen's "How Do Dinosaurs" series and Todd Parr's books don't have main characters, but they do a great job of having very diverse casts scattered through the pages.

There are books with Chinese and Japanese and Korean characters. I have never come across any fiction picture books or middle grade books with Indian/Indian-American main characters, though I know there are a couple of YA novels with them. I just did an Amazon search for books about Holi, because if ever there was a holiday that you could write an amazingly good picture book about, that would be it...but all the books are of the didactic Now-We-Will-Learn-About-Other-Cultures variety. *makes note to self to write brilliant picture book about Holi and make a zillion dollars*

Check out the Happy Nappy Bookseller: she reviews lots of books, mostly multicultural, and mostly children's and YA books. http://thehappynappybookseller.blogspot.com/


Checked it out, and it's a cartoon character. I'm wondering myself if there are any mainstream books for children with non-white characters in the main roles, and I did a bit of research this morning. The Harry Potter books, for example, have a couple of non-white characters, I discovered. But how many books are there with non-whites as the actual hero/ine?
I found this list, (http://www.elp-web.com/pages/subject/childrens_books/childrens_diversity.htm) but the books there seem to be mainly educational, about children from different parts of the world.

aruna
10-24-2009, 08:09 PM
Thanks for the list! I could do a Holi story, with all my Hindu experience. Hmmmm... got me thinking...
There certainly seems to be a bit of a vacuum in that area. Especially since I;ve got a brand new granddaughter!