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Culture: Literature
New Morals For Stories   (+5)  [vote for, against]
Breathing new life into tired messages

Over the generations, uncountable tales have been told with a didactic purpose - many, like Aesop's fables (and practically every US TV show I've ever seen (as well as increasing numbers of UK TV shows)) have an explicit moral at the end.

Trouble is, many of these morals are patronising, outdated, 'wrong' or just plain boring. It would be a shame to throw out hundreds of good stories just because the moral doesn't appeal to us, so why not find another one fitting the tale which is more appropriate?

Take the story of the sword of Damocles. It's a masterfully constructed, taut psychodrama, but is let down for me by the message of the story - essentially, that power has its price. What an anticlimax - surely everybody knows that by now. My preferred moral of the story is that you shouldn't let an inconsiderate host spoil a good meal. Damocles should have simply ignored Dionysius' sadistic behaviour, and got on with stuffing his face and getting lashed.
-- -alx, Aug 18 2001

Aesop's Fables
Plenty of tales ripe for revision [-alx, Aug 18 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

The Sword Of Damocles http://www.geocitie.../2549/damocles.html
Like so many otherwise great stories, you'll feel let down completely by the ending. [-alx, Aug 18 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories
Good stuff. [PotatoStew, Aug 18 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Aesop's Fables
Plenty of tales ripe for revision [-alx, Oct 21 2004]

Great idea alx, I was hoping that you were going to say that we should reverse the morals of stories, though. (ie. snow white is NOT awoken by the princess kiss b/c there is not such thing as true love ... )

Bravo-- very 'post'
-- futurebird, Aug 19 2001

On a sinister note, I do beleive this idea is somewhat baked. People have been re-interpreting the accounts, stories and (mostly) crap in the Bible for as long as they have needed to coerce people into behaving a certain way.

Religious issues aside, DIY interpretation of texts is a sterling idea. It's interesting how the same text, interpreted at different times in ones life can yeild different nuggets of wisdom.
-- sdm, Aug 19 2001

I don't get it. Damocles, I mean. Why didn't he just sit somewhere else? Or take the thing down and dispatch Dionysus with it? And anyway, if the horsehair broke, it wasn't about to fall far so it would probably do no damage to him whatsoever. I guess I'm too left-brain for all this lateral heebiegeebie.
-- lewisgirl, Aug 19 2001

Good point [lewisgirl]. He should have just said to Dionysus, with impeccable etiquette, naturally, "Oh, you forgot to take down one of your swords", and considerately placed it to one side.

Moral of the story - if something's bugging you, get rid of it.
-- -alx, Aug 19 2001

I just love the image of a Classical literary hero 'stuffing his face and getting lashed.'
-- angel, Aug 20 2001

I did wonder a while back what the Manson Family made of some of these old stories...

"The Three Little *Pigs*"
Moral: No matter how dumb the authorities are, if you think you can beat them you're going down.

"Jack and the Beanstalk"
Moral: Stealing from the powerful is fine, as long as you axe-murder them on your way out.

"Little Red Riding Hood"
Moral: Some girls can't tell their own grandmother from a serial killer.
-- Guy Fox, Aug 21 2001

If you're going to rob someone, don't waste your time eating hot porridge.
-- -alx, Aug 21 2001

random, halfbakery