Post by Josh Zinn.
Recently, whilst trolling through the myriad cable channels available to me, I happened upon one of the hallmark films of my childhood, the 1973 animated version of E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. While I am apt, in my adult life, to quote from this film more times than I usually care to admit (“It says CRUNCHY”) it had been some time since I had actually WATCHED the gentle little saga of a frightened pig named Wilbur and Charlotte, the spider whose life becomes dedicated to preserving the safety of her friend.
Anticipating clichéd retro delight in being able to relive memories of the gluttonous rat, Templeton, as well as rousing karaoke renditions of “Zuckerman’s Famous Pig,” I was caught unaware in my realization as to how much Charlotte’s Web had informed my childhood self about the then very-adult ideas of kindness, loss, and mortality. Granted, there’s plenty of sweet-natured humor and a healthy smattering of vocabulary words (“radiant,” “humble,” and “Smorgasbord” were all knowingly dropped into many of my youthful conversations), but beneath the film’s pork-pink exterior beats the heart of something far greater. More than merely a cartoon, Wilbur’s tale presents parents and children with an opportunity to understand and discuss the machinations of their world and the importance of staying true to themselves in spite of oppositions they may face. It’s heady stuff, no doubt, but crafted in such a way that the film never talks down to kids, but rather, with care and respect.
While it may be true that, as a child, I was as equally enamored with Scooby Doo meeting Sonny and Cher (what a great episode! Zoinks!) as I was with Charlotte’s Web, the impact Wilbur’s story had upon my life far exceeds that explosive alignment of the stars. Sure, the beat may go on, but in the end, there’s no denying that is some pig.