Friday, July 06, 2007

Black Beauty is a boy!?

My 7 1/2 year old just finished reading the classic novel, Black Beauty.

Naturally, once completed, she got a dollar from me (buck a book, that's the deal for this summer) and a trip to the library to rent the video.

For those not familiar with the story, BB is an autobiographical memoir of a horse, told in "first person" narrative.

Surprisingly, our local library had a DVD of a 70's badly-animated production from Hanna-Barbera.

Not surprising (to me at least) was that the DVD version utilized a first person narrator to tell the story.

Surprising to C was that Black Beauty's voice was that of the male persuasion.

See, to her 7 1/2-year old pre-estrogen induced literary imagination, Black Beauty was a girl horse. Naturally.

So imagine her dismay and, I'll come right out and say it, disgust, to find out that the horse she was reading about, routing for, sympathizing with and picturing in her 'tween 1st and 2nd grade head, was actually a penis packing boy horse.

Needless to say, she was bummed.

Undaunted at this discovery, she rifled through the book, looking for any reference to the nubian horse as a "she." I'm not sure what she found within the 186 large print text pages, but there, on the back jacket was printed the following passage:"Living at Squire Gordon's country estate, the spirited young horse, Black Beauty, is well taken care of and happy. But when the squire is forced to sell off his horses, Black Beauty's life changes as she is passed from one cruel master to another..."That did it. Our small town is fortunate to have a video/dvd rental store with a relatively good selection of older titles. A quick call to the counter, some fast keyboarding into their database, and a VHS copy of this 1994 live action version of the film came up as available and on the shelf.

$.99 and a few minutes later, I got to watch C's jaw drop in disbelief as Black Beauty's live action movie voice was not only male, but tinged with a bit of a Scottish accent as well (voiced by none other than the X-Men's Nightcrawler, Alan Cumming).

Such a harsh lesson for a 7 1/2-year old girl to learn at the very beginnings of a lifetime of literary liaisons.

Although I am looking forward to the day when she reads Melville's Moby Dick, whereupon questioning whether or not the white whale is a boy or a girl, I'm guessing she'll miss the phallic imagery and naming convention and will come up with her own distinctive opinion on the matter.

However, I'm not too sure I'd want my 7 1/2-year old reading Melville just yet.

Huck Finn anyone?


Dad Stuff said...

'Huck Finn' does have that brief cross-dressing passage, when he catches with his dress the wrong way, but Twain was pretty up front about Huck not really fooling anyone.
Read away.

Darren said...

Was Black Beauty a girl? Does the book leave it open? I've never read it. My wife would know. She loves horse stories and is reading Misty of (someplace I never remember) to my daughter now.