There's a great tradition of anti-heroes in literature; evil bastards you can't help liking. Richard III. Heathcliff. Flashman. And, of course...Winnie the Pooh. At least, so I assume from the poster for the new Winnie the Pooh movie:
....What? Now, I'm not one of those people who think Disney ruined Pooh - I love the Milne and Shepherd books, and I like the Disney films (the ones I grew up with, at least - I haven't seen the new ones.) There's room for both. (I also absolutely love the crazy Russian version my friend Simon Kane introduced me to. )
But surely, in all versions, the main thing about Pooh is he's nice. He's not the sort of bear who would, say, rig up a see-saw in such a way as to catapult his little friend Piglet headfirst into a bee-hive. I mean, there's no other way to interpret this picture, is there? Pooh's tower of pots has brought him as high as the beehive, so if he just wanted to get at the honey, he could do. That's not what he wants. He wants Piglet to be engulfed in angry bees. And Piglet knows. There he stands, awaiting his fate, turning to us in anguish, and murmuring 'Oh Pooh.' Oh Pooh. How did it come to this? What happened to you, Pooh? We used to hunt monsters together, Pooh, remember that? And now you've become one. It's like Christopher Robin told us... you were the Woozle all along.'
(P.S. Coincidentally, both Winnie the Pooh and Simon Kane will feature in my Sketch night at The Albany tomorrow night. You can come if you like.)