Winnie the Pooh. You probably remember those stories, and the chronically depressed, misanthropic and neurotic characters which populated them. They were an integral part of my childhood, right up there with playing Jedi and misunderstanding the OJ Simpson case. I could follow up that sentence with a sentence that delves further into my memories of Winnie the Pooh, but quite honestly, I don’t remember all the important details—character names, plots, large portions of college—and I’m not about to look all this info up on Wikipedia just to seem like I know what I’m talking about. Anyway, my fond memories of watching this show and vaguely admiring the balls it took for A.A. Milne to create a character with the word “Pooh” in his name are not the point of this blog. No, in this blog, I want to examine a more pressing question (hence the name): Why on Earth was there a Tiger in The Hundred-Acre Wood?
For the most part, as far as wooded areas of the countryside go, The Hundred-Acre Wood didn’t yield too many surprises. Bears, rabbits, pigs, lost children named after animals (I like to imagine that Christopher Robin’s parents were hippies who lost him after tripping on LSD one day); none of that was too surprising.
Then there was Tigger. Tigger, also known as My First Introduction to Cocaine Addiction, was so full of manic energy that it was easy to forget just how out of place he was in his surroundings. Among all these woodland creatures, there’s a big damn monster cat, bouncing around like an ADHD kid at the carnival, and no one seems to care.
How on Earth did he get there? Was he some unfortunate zoo animal who got released into the wild because his antics were too much for the staff to keep up with? Was he some sort of unwitting drug mule (which, admittedly, would explain his clearly coked out behavior)? Was he an Alien Big Cat, a strangely real and strangely specific phenomena in which citizens of the UK and the United States report seeing animals such as cougars, panthers, and cheetahs outside of their natural environments?
(And you’re all just damn lucky that I didn’t make a corny Cat Stevens joke right there.)
We could perhaps argue that the presence of a typically non-European animal in what is probably a European or North American setting adds a layer of social commentary to Winnie the Pooh, much in the same way that Babar was an allegory for imperialism and Aladdin was racist. Perhaps the energetic vibrancy of Tiger, when introduced to the morose and near-suicidal residents of The Hundred-Acre Wood, was supposed to imply that the Western world could benefit from the vibrant lifestyle practiced by other cultures. Because, as Hollywood knows, it’s not racist to make generalizations about a culture and its people if those generalizations are positive. Right?
(We’re looking at you, Every Movie in Which White People are Transplanted into a New, Non-white Nation, But Learn to Love its People and Their “Primitive” yet Charming Ways.)
However, there’s simply no evidence (that I remember) from the Winnie the Pooh books, movies, or TV shows to indicate that such was the case. For whatever reason, everyone seemed completely cool that a creature who would be less out-of-place at Mike Tyson’s house was bouncing around the woods. Though, if my theory about Christopher Robin’s parents is true, maybe they kept Tigger as a pet and released him when the drugs wore off and they realized “Oh shit that thing is a tiger. It will definitely eat us. Get rid of it.”
Like so many questions about children’s tales, this one will likely remain unanswered. But seriously, what the hell?
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