Written by Melissa Henson | Published February 18, 2021
Last week it was reported that Netflix has acquired the rights to Brian Jacques’ “Redwall” books, and the streaming service is planning to adapt the books for an animated movie and series. “Redwall” is a fantasy series about a brave little mouse and his friends at Redwall Abbey, who fight to protect the Abbey and its inhabitants from an evil rat. The rest of the books in the series continue in the same vein: stories of friendship, loyalty, bravery, perseverance in the face of adversity.
Variety described the series thus: “Think J.R.R. Tolkien with cuddlier protagonists,” and that description is really, pretty apt. They are wonderful stories that can be enjoyed by parents and children alike. And so, news of a series based on these wonderful books should be cause for celebration -- there is so much potential for good.
But we’ve been burned by Netflix before.
We’ve written about Netflix’s adaptation of the “Anne of Green Gables” books, “Anne with an ‘E,’” which added a dark and sexualized edge to a beloved children’s classic; and our 2017 study, “We’re Not in Kansas Anymore,” exposed a recurring pattern of taking familiar children’s characters, stories and fairy tales, and adding graphic violence, sexual content, and other unwelcomed elements.
And the trend continues. It has been widely reported that casting calls for a new Amazon Prime series based on “The Lord of the Rings” stipulated that actors should be comfortable with partial or full nudity, and the series has hired an “intimacy coordinator” (i.e. someone to choreograph the sex scenes). Not content to leave the world of Middle Earth as Tolkien created it, Amazon wants to turn it into Westeros.
New Line is also working on a “reimagining” of L. Frank Baum’s “Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” but again, we’ve been burned before. NBC’s adaptation of the children’s book, “Emerald City,” included graphic violence, such as crucifixion and torture; and an explicit scene in which a female character sexually pleasured the Tin Man character with her hand, using an oily lubricant.
Wouldn’t it be a welcome change if we could look forward to these adaptations of beloved children’s stories, eagerly and without reservation instead of having to worry about how Hollywood will pervert them?