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Literature / Politically Correct Bedtime Stories

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A collection of "children's stories" written in 1994 by James Garner, Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, retells traditional fairy-tales in an elaborately tongue-in-cheek politically correct fashion.

The book serves as a double parody: firstly it satirizes political correctness and censorship of children's literature, and secondly it satirizes the Values Dissonance that have become more apparent in traditional folk tales in modern times.


It spawned three sequels: Once upon a More Enlightened Time: More Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, Politically Correct Holiday Stories: For an Enlightened Yuletide Season (satirizing political correctness during Christmas), and Politically Correct Pinocchio. He later attacked the other side of the political spectrum with Tea Party Fairytales.

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories contains examples of the following tropes:

  • All Men Are Perverts: Repeatedly played straight and always lampshaded, usually by a woman.
  • At Least I Admit It: Played for Laughs in the "Three Codependent Goats Gruff" story. When we first meet the troll under the bridge, he declares that he happens to have the natural attributes of a troll and thus should not be denied his essential right to act as a troll (i.e., eat goats). The Goats Gruff realize they can't dispute this argument, so they each talk the troll into letting them go to discuss each imminent devouring with their siblings, claiming it would be "selfish" not to do so. (Eventually, when the biggest of the goats shows up, the troll is so frightened that he immediately apologizes for trying to eat the goats; this leads the goat in turn to apologize for trying to deprive the troll of his source of food. They each become so adamant about claiming the guilt for the incident that they eventually get into a fistfight.)
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  • Band of Brothers: The brotherly relationship between the seven "towering giants" in "Snow White" gets ramped up to having a mobile sweat lodge, mens retreats, and communal spa.
  • Does Not Like Men: Several of the stories' heroines, such as Little Red Riding Hood, end up this way. Just as the wolf is about to eat Red Riding Hood, she screams, alerting a passing woodsman who bursts into the cabin to save her... which prompts both the wolf and Red to berate him for assuming Red and the Wolf were unable to resolve their problem without the help of a man, at which point they both beat the shit out of him and proceed to talk out their differences peacefully.
  • Down the Rabbit Hole: Deconstructed. A character says she thinks the cliché of a young girl going on a journey in a surreal world where she's acted upon but rarely gets a chance to act on the setting is overplayed, and she refuses the call to adventure and goes home "In the name of Alice, Dorothy, Wendy and all the others".
  • Interspecies Friendship: "Little Red Riding Hood" ends with a newfound friendship between Little Red Riding Hood, her grandmother, and the wolf.
But with parting disdain, do you know what he said
When this overweight huckster took off on his sled?
This enslaver of reindeer, this exploiter of elves?
"Merry Christmas to all, but get over yourselves!"