Thursday 15 November 2018

little orphant annie

On this day in 1885, an Indianapolis newspaper printed the eponymous poem by James Whitcomb Riley with spellings that reflected the Hoosier dialect of the region, admonishing children to obey their guardians lest goblins snatch them away, bearing no semblance to the franchise that it would go on to spawn with a comic panel, radio drama, a Broadway musical and two films—not to mention the obligatory school productions though apparently the Addams Family has unseated Annie in recent years—that spanned the century and decades in between.
Though it may seem as if we are living through a time of unprecedented call-backs of properties that are not especially worthy of our nostalgia or fiddling with the original but I suppose we also enjoy the privileged perspective of being told what’s the definitive adaptation and what’s canon through licensing and closely guarded rights and the luxury of forgetting about the plethora of early Titanic movies—for example. Things like the libretto, nonetheless, do seem a bit sacrosanct but I suppose concessions to language are necessary, like in “Hard-Knock Life” original to the updated version:

No one cares for you a smidge
When you’re in an orphanage

No one cares for you a bit
When you’re a foster kid