Tuesday, March 3, 1998
PC Police trying to bust
Peter Pan?

BY LAURA PULFER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

I didn't mean any harm.

It was Christmas, and I just wanted to give my favorite child a little piece of my own childhood. So I fought my way into Kenwood Towne Centre, right at the peak of the shopping season. For $21.99, you could buy Peter Pan futures at the Disney Store. So I did.

The video of the animated version of Sir James M. Barrie's story wouldn't be available until later, but I was given a very nice book and lithograph and a voucher to be presented at the store in March. Today, as a matter of fact, is the big day. Peter Pan has arrived.

The 'dark side'

Now it's time for the PC Police to show up. Even now, Politically Correct squads may be preparing the case against Peter Pan. Sexual harassment. Or maybe sexism. Or flying without a license. Or wearing a green suit.

This kind of thing has happened before.

You have to be looking pretty hard for trouble to find it in one of Disney's animated movies. Of course, some people are willing to look very hard indeed.

Concerned Women for America joined the Baptist boycott of the Disney company last year, angered, they said, because Pocahontas was wearing a ''Victoria's Secret little slip.''

Before that, some nutty group insisted that the dust stirred up in a scene from The Lion King spelled out S-E-X if you stopped the action and connected the dots.

I couldn't see it. But this is probably just me. I could never get my Beatles songs to say anything when I played them backward. And, although my brothers managed to do it many times, I have never been able to fold the Land O' Lakes butter carton so that it appears as if the woman on the front has bare breasts.

So, perhaps I am just too naive to be walking around without a uniformed attendant.

But Peter Pan? Give me a break.

''There is a dark side that modern parents should be aware of,'' warns syndicated columnist Scott Blakey. He goes on to say the movie portrays young women as ''shallow, jealous, interchangeable and designed for male pleasure.'' What?

Wendy? Tinkerbell? Princess Tiger Lily? Mrs. Darling?

Fighting pirates

It is worth noticing that we girls who grew up in the 1950s, watching Captain Hook and Mr. Smee, are the ones who learned enough about fighting pirates to find our way into the boardrooms. And if we didn't get our inspiration from Peter Pan, at least he didn't stand in our way.

But really, this was just a story, and we all knew it. Just like Snow White and Bambi. None of my friends was trying to hook up with a bunch of untidy dwarfs, hoping for a job as housekeeper. Nobody expected deer to talk.

OK, I admit it. I like most of the Disney animated movies, old and new. The music in Beauty and the Beast is terrific, and I don't mind if Pocahontas looks a lot like Barbie in deerskin. She was brave and smart. Considering that she spent most of her time swimming the rapids and hiking around the forest, it's no wonder she was in great shape.

Peter Pan is an adventure story. For kids. Next, I suppose somebody is going to insist on a label warning that trying to fly might be hazardous to your health. So Peter didn't want to grow up? Neither did I. Sometimes I still don't.

And if Peter brought Wendy to the land of the lost boys because he thought they needed a mother, I don't really think that's such a dangerous concept.

I'm going out to the Disney Store today to pick up my Peter Pan video. Then I'm going to watch it with my granddaughter, the brilliant and completely liberated Rosie King, age 2.

If she asks me why Wendy is running around in her nightgown and why Peter gets to be the chief of the lost boys, I will explain.

It's only a movie.

Laura Pulfer's column appears in the Enquirer on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 768-8393 or fax 768-8340. She can be heard Monday mornings on WVXU radio (91.7 FM), and as a regular commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition. E-mail her at laurapulfer@enquirer.com

PULFER ARCHIVE