I chose to focus on Donna Leishman’s RedRidinghood from 2001, found here http://collection.eliterature.org/1/works/leishman__redridinghood/index.htm .
I had high hopes for this piece. Interactive literature, based on a fairy tale but with added adult themes, feminist creator, almost entirely visual? It sounds a lot like some of my own work in the Studio Arts department.
What an absolute disappointment.
The story opens on a cityscape, and key colored points lead the viewer to clicking into the apartment of Red Riding Hood and her mother. We know the story, the mother hands Red a basket and Red exits the apartment and the city. She walks down a wooded path and we see what totally looks like a raccoon following her but I guess it is supposed to be a wolf. We then see the wolf ride up to Red in all his grey-haired-skater-boy glory on a razor scooter (yes, really). He licks his lips at her and then scoots away, and Red wanders off the path to pick wildflowers and falls asleep.
The most interesting part of the entire piece happens in a separate pop-up while Red is sleeping in the flowers, and it seems to only come up on the first play-through, because I have been unable to make it appear in subsequent viewings. A small pop up window, titled “My Secret is My Mind” appears and displays the “password protected” (we are given the password) diary of what I can only assume is the wolf. We get insight into his disturbed mind, seeing his obsession with Red, and his desire to either own or kill her. We also get the sense that he is significantly older than the girl, as the first page reads “you make me feel like I am young again you make me feel like I am home again HOW EVER FAR AWAY I will always love you however long I stay”. There are also references to Satan, possible demonic possession, and the “wolf” persona being an aspect of the man that he cannot control.
After perusing the wolf’s diary, you are prompted to wake up Red. We watch as the wolf enters Red’s Grandmother’s house, and sees the Grandmother sitting up in bed. We then return to Red, watch her enter the house and see her gaze upon a darken bed which we see has the wolf lying in it. The scene then quickly changes to a side view of Red laying in the bed with a swollen stomach, and if you hover over the stomach you can see a tiny naked version of the wolf swirling around in there. The wolf then enters the room with a gun and holds it to Red’s temple, and then the game ends.
I would have thoroughly enjoyed this piece if only the visuals weren’t so god awful. The entire animation looks like something a 14 year old drew and posted on Deviantart circa 2005. I mean, really, the quality of the visuals here is almost offensive. As someone who does freelance digital art, I can say with certainty that whoever drew this either only spent about an hour and a half on the whole thing, or had never tried drawing on the computer in their life before the moment they went into MS Paint and threw this together. Majority of my time at Pitt has been spent driving the point that when it comes to literature, the visuals are just as important as what is written, and this piece just proves my point. Leishman thanks Angela Carter in her credits, apparently inspired by Carter’s modernized, sexually charged adaptions of fairy tales. I have always been a fan of Carter, and part of what makes her stories work is the way her stories are presented like pieces of Gothic literature. There is a sense of sophistication that adds to the grotesqueness of her narrative. Leishman’s adaption of Red Riding Hood relies far more on visuals than it does on text, and because the animation accompanying her story is so juvenile it makes her whole story seem like something an edgy 14 year old dreamed up in their emo phase after reading Twilight.
PS. Here is a link to one of my digital pieces, based on The Little Mermaid, just to prove that you can make complex visuals entirely on the computer based on fairy tales with added adult themes.