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  • Writer's pictureLizzie Charbonneau

A look at grooming in The Nutcracker

⭐️🎄🎁 For a little holiday cheer, let's talk about GROOMING! ⭐️🎄🎁

Media often normalizes inappropriate behaviors, but as parents, we can turn that around to have conversations about what is ok and not ok. I had this opportunity when I introduced my son to The Nutcracker last year.

I found "Nutcracker: The Motion Picture" on Amazon Prime, and was shocked to see an obsessive, jealous, and manipulative Drosselmeyer (as well as incredibly racist caricatures) instead of the doting Godfather I remembered.

In this version, Drosselmeyer

- gives Clara a more extravagant gift than anyone else (not the Nutcracker)

- spends his time either with Clara or watching her

- invades her personal space

- touches her excessively

- is jealous when she prefers the Nutcracker to his gift

In addition, despite Clara's discomfort, her mother tells her to dance with Drosselmeyer anyways.

I ended up narrating over most of the ballet, telling my son all the things that weren't ok before turning it off early.

After watching this, I found "The creep of The Nutcracker" by Blaine Greteman. This version of Drosselmeyer seems to represent the original by E.T.F. Hoffman.

Here's an excerpt from the article:

Drosselmeyer has wooed the girl with a special gift, awed her with his abilities as a technician and a magician, and degraded her by dismissing her as a "foolish child" (unverständig Kind) who could not appreciate his skill. Now he is teaching her to disbelieve her own experience unless it can be verified by a powerful man like himself. As the story continues, he will berate her for speaking "silly, stupid nonsense" (dummer einfältiger Schnack) when she tries to tell others. After being humiliated several times, she stops trying.

"A hundred times," Hoffman writes, "she thought of telling what had happened, to her mother, or to Luise, or at least to Fritz; but she asked herself, 'Will any of them believe me?'" Finally she withdraws into herself, which only warrants further criticism: "[I]nstead of playing as she used to do, she would sit still and silent, her thoughts far away, till everybody faulted her for being a little dreamer."

I’m not suggesting you seek out this version to discuss grooming with your kid, but it's a handy example of how media can make abnormal behaviors seem normal and how, as parents, we can turn that into conversations about Body Safety.

(we later found Baryshnikov’s Nutcracker, which has a much healthier dynamic)

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