• Merrick Wells

Beatrix Bunny Boiling

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

Growing up, my books of treasured choice were the Rev. W. Awdry Thomas the Tank engine series. The comings and goings of the locomotives and rolling stock of the isle of Sodor, as lovable yet prideful engines, wittering coaches and troublesome trucks constantly tested the patience of the Fat Controller. The original simplicity of the stories and their authenticity have long since been eroded by the American company that have battered the franchise like a cash cow piñata. I read the original stories to my young daughter and occasionally allow her to watch the early original TV series but the Magic Railroad nonsense with invading Chinese motive power….just not canon!

Now another, furiously stuffy middle class British fan base is set to be enraged by the latest guise of a much loved childhood hero, and I am not talking about a space and time travelling medical professional. That is another topic for another day.

Peter Rabbit is the lovable bunny of the imagination of Victorian super woman Beatrix Potter. An acclaimed water colour painter, natural scientist and respected conservationist, widely credited as the most powerful voice in the preservation of the landscape of the Lake District in northern England. She was approached by Walt Disney himself in 1936 to turn her books into animated films. She rebuffed him in a way which would have made an enjoyable short to be aired prior to “Saving Mr. Banks”. Her fan base are up in arms denouncing the Sony CGI fest trailer of the new Peter Rabbit feature film. They claim Potter would have rounded on it with outrage, and rightly so, it looks appalling.

Well, let me clarify that. It looks like standard uninspiring Hollywood fodder. The trailer struck me as a CGI animal enfeebled photocopy of Home Alone. Some money chasing bright eyed studio exec saw the success of the CGI offering of Paddington Bear and went rummaging through the bookshelves of much loved children authors to find the banker which could sell with ease. You can imagine the scene, once rights are signed away, the writing boiler room of shouty outy ideas see the guts of the concept ripped out until what is left standing is a hollowed out husk of a brand name. Everything about it smells….wrong. Even down to the interior design of the central farmhouse, which seems to resemble something off a US west coast aspirational faux colonial suburb sit com, to the voice over choice of James Corden as the titular role. Clearly a decision made in an accounting spreadsheet by telephone conference between racket ball appointments. “Who can we get that is hot property and English….?”

It strikes me that the problem is that simply the cherished memories of a small slice of the British middle class do not translate to substantive figures on a Hollywood studio balance sheet. There will be outrage at the pending product, but, the boycotts of these loyal fans will not halt the juggernaut of cultural appropriation that is lame stream cinema. So I have some advice for those Peter Rabbit fans who will be twitching with impotent fury. Make contact with the MAGA crowd.

Yes, an unlikely alliance between mainstream Trump voting middle America and net curtain twitching, fine china tea serving, Harvey Nicholls store card holding British mummies is the solution to this crisis. Hollywood has been taking a bashing for producing uninspiring CGI trash or unoriginal remakes for a while now. But recent bottom line panics have come about as previously bankable names have seen new big budget productions flopping upon release. Jennifer Lawrence spouted pontificating nonsense about the state of the US then stated recent hurricanes are punishment for voting Trump and she has had to announce a temporary retirement from film making as her films have been ignored by the majority of the US cinema going public. If the disgust of the Peter Rabbit loyalists is to be understood by Sony, the Potter army must bring a greater spending power to their impending boycott. A new axis of people power, the birth of a true classless, borderless front, to be known as Potter Populism, MABA (Make A Better Adaptation)

Check out the trailer for yourself and if you are an unhappy bunny, register your vote of protest by voting dislike on the youtube page. Together we can be the change!

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