Little Red Feminism

In 2001, Donna Lieberman took a nontraditional feminist approach to the classic children’s tale “Little Red Ridinghood” with her project “RedRidinghood.” She wanted to create a story that still had narrative qualities without any text but whose story wasn’t destroyed or distorted due to interactivity. She does this by limiting the interaction that the uses has with the story, only allowing some portions of each scene to be clickable in a way that carries on the story. Each hyperlink that she enables takes the reader on a different narrative path with most of the occurring in Red’s dreamworld.

The reader can choose to let Red sleep which will open different narrative paths or to wake her and continue with the main plot.
The reader can choose to let Red sleep which will open different narrative paths or to wake her and continue with the main plot.

The story is (in a way) a frame story, with most of the action taking place while Red is asleep in the flower field. The user gets the option to wake Red or let her dream, with each choice having its own narrative. If the reader chooses to let Red dream, several scenarios will play out depending on what part of the screen was clicked. In one scenario Red is out side of a meat packing plant with strange humans inside and the reader can click on different characters and objects until they reach the next scene. Deeper in this dream we see the wolf boy standing beside a dead cat along with other people in the room standing beside animals we assume to be ill or dead. Clicking on the people and animals trigger some affects that are mostly for distraction, but clicking on the wolf boy leads to another dreamworld scenario where the reader can see the wolf boy grow from an embryo if they choose to. The third dreamworld scenario involved Red walking dude along a road and coming across an angel with bandages on its wings who does nothing to help her. No matter what scenario the reader starts with it ends with Red waking up in the flower patch and continuing on her journey.

Waking Red immediately leads to her continuing to her grandmother’s house to find her eaten by the wolf, who’s a human boy in this tale. The screen changes and the reader sees Red lying on the Grandmother’s bed patting her full stomach and it is assumed that Red has eaten the wolf. I believe that this is the ultimate display of feminism in the story because unlike the traditional story Red gets rid of the wolf himself. Furthermore she does so by eating him which asserts her dominance in the situation that the reader doesn’t see. She may not be able to save her grandmother, but she is able to save herself without outside help.

In general, I thought that the story worked. It takes several read-throughs to fully understand the story, but I think that’s one of the things that Leishman was trying to accomplish because it takes several read-throughs to see each dream scenario. There are parts of the dream world that are a bit distracting (such as the beating heart and jumping sheep in the meat packing plant), but I think that comments on us as readers who are easily side tracked from the main plot. What do you think?

  2 comments for “Little Red Feminism

  1. scolliga
    February 2, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    This was an interesting take on a classic, no question there. The characters are made a little more contemporary and in a couple cases (like the “wolf”) more surreal. Aside from the design of it, however, it still seemed like a straightforward “game” more than a story. You get some interesting directions from clicking in different areas, but none of them seem completely developed. Also, I can’t help but wonder why, if most of the story takes place in different dreams, it would matter for the creators to frame all of it within a newer rendition of the Little Red Riding Hood story.

  2. kmunnis
    February 3, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    I ran the story several times to see the different dreams scenarios and to try to answer to myself whether or not the interactivity distracted from the narrative. My conclusion was that it didn’t, it really engaged me by having me look for the odd objects such as the moving painting behind Red’s mother. The dream sequence however really forces the player to be distracted from the main story.

    As someone who skipped the dream sequence the first play through (because it was blocked by my browser) and then found her way back- I have to say Red’s dreams are insightful to the story. Who is this supernatural wolf boy? He’s certainly a psychopath, before we know he’s eaten the grandma, we have glimpses of his cruelty to animals in the dreams. These dreams take place just after she’s encountered the wolf boy, who we can assume she felt threatened by which I think is indicated by the her dreams about him, dreams of being outside a meat factory, and then the angel who doesn’t help her.

    I think the dreams aren’t straight forward because they are meant to be interpreted by the reader and to maintain a dreamlike quality. By the I mean, dreams are our subconscious processing information, they’re never straight forward, never complete, and they pull form our emotions and daytime experiences which can lead them to seaming very real. The ending is positively feminist, which shows Red refusing to be helpless as she might have been in her dream, and saving herself.

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