Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Peter Pan: A New View, Or Why Peter Pan Is A Little Jerk

I'm sure everyone is familiar with the story of Peter Pan.  You've either read the book (read it online) or watched some version of the film (more likely).  Have you thought about the story beyond what it is at face value?  For a long time I didn't, but when I did there were some immediate things that screamed to be addressed.

Peter Pan Is A Psycho
We all know that Peter is a boy who will never grow up.  In the book, we learn that children know of Peter Pan and Neverland, but tend to grow up and forget - unless they remember.  When Wendy mentions Peter Pan to her mother, her mother doesn't remember at first, but then suddenly remembers hearing about Peter Pan when she was a child.  We start to form the idea that Peter Pan has been around for awhile, though we are never quite sure just how long.

We know that he talks kids into going to Neverland with him.  Since we perceive him as being a boy, somehow it's okay; if he was an old man, we would think of him as some abductor/kidnapper.  Age-wise, he is an old man.   He doesn't seem to have any qualms about taking kids, with the hopes of "forever", to Neverland, though he doesn't disclose this to them until they're already in Neverland.

Peter is avidly opposed to grown-ups, aka people with authority.  In the book, chapter 1 "He was a lovely boy, clad in skeleton leaves and the juices that ooze out of trees but the most entrancing thing about him was that he had all his first teeth. When he saw she was a grown-up, he gnashed the little pearls at her."  He is also opposed to Captain Hook and the pirates.

When Peter makes his first appearance, we learn that he isn't very considerate of others (breaking into the Darling's house and insulting Wendy), he is a braggart throughout the story, and he's an overall jerk to just about everyone.

 "Yes," said cunning Peter, "but we are rather lonely. You see we have no female companionship."
What a liar!

When it comes to pirates, Peter really doesn't seem to like them, BUT he also shows us a special side of himself.

"There's a pirate asleep in the pampas just beneath us," Peter told him. "If you like, we'll go down and kill him."
"I don't see him," John said after a long pause.
"I do."
"Suppose," John said, a little huskily, "he were to wake up."
Peter spoke indignantly. "You don't think I would kill him while he was sleeping! I would wake him first, and then kill him. That's the way I always do."
"I say! Do you kill many?"
 Whoa!  You just brought some new kids to Neverland and the first thing you want to do is go kill some sleeping pirate?  Holy shit, dude!  That's messed up.  It seems as though Neverland will keep you ageless, but mortality is still there - meaning that you can die in Neverland, you might just look as you did for the last 50 years when it happens.

It is tiring being around Peter Pan.  We learn this in chapter 5 of the book.  When Peter is gone people sleep in, there aren't so many fights going on around the island, things are usually pretty quiet, the animals behave, and the redskins are able to feast without issues.  Peter is also massively controlling, which can be tiring in itself.  He demands to be the leader and have the last word.  He orders the lost boys not to look like him.

Throughout the story, Peter obsesses over Wendy.  What does he want her to do when he gets her to Neverland?  Chores.  That's pretty much it.  She happily does it at first, thinking that she's doing them a grand favor, but how long will that last?  She also seems to become Peter's property when she reaches Neverland.  I'm surprised Peter let's her have a wolf friend in Neverland.

Tinkerbell As A Hero
Tinkerbell is usually seen as a jealous little fairy who changes sides on a whim, but ultimately helps Peter out to save the day. Let's imagine that Peter is a bit of a psycho and Tink knows it.  In the beginning of the films and book, Tink is immediately mean to Wendy (who first meets Peter).  Could she be trying to make Wendy feel a bit put-off so she doesn't go to Neverland?  No matter what Tink says or does, Peter isn't swayed and the Darlings are taken to Neverland.

Tink, at one point, does want the Lost Boys to shoot Wendy ("the Wendy Bird" as the boys call her at this point).  Could this be from spending too much time with Peter?  Wendy takes an arrow to the chest (actually it gets deflected by her necklace) and the lost boys, Tootles especially, is scared of Peter when they realize they shot a girl and not a bird.  Tootles almost pays with his life for this incident.  When Tink realizes that she is not dead, she pleads with Peter to leave her alone.  Peter again shoves Tink away, seemingly obsessed with Wendy.

As the story progresses, Tink stews over just about everything.  She is elated when Wendy tells a story about her actual family and suggests going back to England (with the lost boys).  Peter orders Tink to take Wendy.  When Wendy tries to get Peter to go along with them, he refuses.  This strikes me as a dose of reverse psychology - if they are allowed to go, they will inevitably want to stay.

After the pirates inevitably capture the kids, Tink manages to escape.  She heads back to check on Peter, spills the beans to him, and ends up drinking a cup of poisoned water while trying to get him not to go after the others.  I tend to wonder if she was really poisoned at all.  Maybe the poison used by Hook was something that would poison Peter, but not Tink.  All he had to do was clap to bring her back?  Yeah.  Right.  THAT sounds like a little bit of a stretch, but it also sounds like a potential way to control Peter a little.

Does it seem like Tinkerbell tried to get Peter to leave Wendy and the boys alone?  She seems to try to get Peter to ignore the regular people, like it's something he does on a regular basis and she doesn't like it.  Serial abductor?

Captain Hook
It was Peter to cut off Hook's right hand.  He excitedly admits this to Wendy, John, and Michael when they get to Neverland.  As Peter and the others are flying into Neverland, Tink lets Peter know that Hook has pulled out Long Tom (a canon on the pirate ship).  Instead of Peter getting hit, Wendy gets knocked around a little by the canon ball.

I know that Captain Hook is freaked out by the crocodile.  People like to associate the crocodile with death.  I get that.  I just want to point out that crocodiles are pretty freaky.  Have you seen the youtube videos about crocodiles and/or alligators?  I would NOT want to be in the water with them.  Also, I would be really pissed off if some little jackass cut off my hand and threw it to the crocodile.

Hook's hand wasn't the only thing lost.  Hook pretty much lost his freedom with Neverland and Peter Pan.  Peter sees him as a great enemy, thusly Hook takes to fighting off the little monster.  By chance, Hook and Smee figure out where Peter lives and derive a plan to extinguish the "boy" - pretty much by leaving them a poisoned cake.

Hook and his men manage to capture Wendy, Michael, John, and the lost boys pretty easily when Wendy tries to take them to England.  Peter doesn't notice since he's trying to put on aires that he doesn't care about everyone leaving.  The pirates take the kids away, but Hook goes back to deal with Peter.  He almost gets him while he's sleeping, but Peter's child-like appearance is enough to put-off Hook.  This seems to indicate that Hook has some inner turmoil over killing kids.  Instead of a direct hit from his hook or sword, he decides to put poison into Peter's "medicine" (it's a cup of water).

Since the kids are all expecting Hook to be an evil monster of a captain, they play it out that way.  He asks them if they want to join his crew.  The kids all decide to take a long walk off a short plank which is fine with Hook.  He does mention "The King" in reference to the King of England, but somehow no one really thinks about that.  If they all just joined his crew, would Hook have just tried to leave Neverland to escape Peter Pan?  Peter, of course, comes in "to save the day" just as Hook is about to toss the kids overboard.

In the end, Hook gets tossed overboard to the crocodile.  Tragically, Hook never gets home which was quite possible.  After Hook dies, Peter takes everyone home in the ship.  Was Hook just trying to escape the whole time?!

Redskins *Face Palm Masters*
The redskins in the story carry around scalps of the lost boys and pirates that they have taken out.  They always struck me, even as a kid, as the people who pretty much stand back and say "I don't want any part of your dumb fight, but if you come over here, I'll hurt you."  If anyone in the story is a neutral party, it's the redskins.

Unfortunately for the redskins, Tiger Lily seems to like Peter, so they lean a little more in his favor....though they will still scalp the boys, apparently.  Tiger Lily, at one point, gets herself in trouble by spying on the pirates.  Peter and the lost boys see the result of this, Tiger Lily being left on a rock while tied up during low-tide.  When the tide comes in, she'll be left to drown.  It's kind of a shitty thing for the pirates to do, but Peter saves her.  When Peter saves her (with Wendy's help), he completely forgets about Wendy for a few minutes.

You may remember that since Peter saved Tiger Lily the redskins have a bit of a shindig to celebrate.  Peter is still a jerk to the redskins and asserts himself by saying "Peter Pan has spoken".
Always when he said, "Peter Pan has spoken," it meant that they must now shut up, and they accepted it humbly in that spirit; but they were by no means so respectful to the other boys, whom they looked upon as just ordinary braves.

During the party, no matter what happens, Wendy passively stands by with a "father (Peter) knows best" attitude.

I want to finish this up by letting you know that Peter visits Wendy when she's all grown up.  Wendy let's Peter take her daughter.  WHAT?  Her daughter is apparently returned and her daughter, when she's grown up, lets him take her daughter.   It's all just a little creepy.

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