11 Feb 2015

Five Great Tales Ruined By Mobile Phones

The Odyssey

After the end of the ten-year Trojan War, Odysseus is trying to return home to Ithaca to be reunited with his wife Penelope and his son Telemachus. Fearing that Odysseus had died, Penelope and Telemachus are in agony. They are tormented by the prospect of life without him. Fortunately, after half an hour of this mental anguish they receive a text message from Odysseus saying that he is on his way home. Odysseus books a trip on his mobile phone app and manages to return home in time for dinner that night.

Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel are young children whose father is a woodcutter. When a great famine settles over the land, the woodcutter's abusive second wife decides to take the children into the woods and leave them there to be by themselves, so that she and her husband will not starve to death because the children eat too much. The woodcutter opposes the plan but finally and reluctantly submits to his wife's scheme. They are unaware that in the children's bedroom, Hansel and Gretel have overheard them.

The next day when the children are left in the forest, Hansel uses the map on his mobile phone and they manage to find their way back home. They sell their story to a tabloid for lots of money and they all live happily ever after.

King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table

After Uther Pendragon's death, Merlin the magician forms a stone and in it a sword. On this sword it is written that anyone who can pull it out of the stone will become the new King of England. After many years, the young Arthur, secretly the son of Uther Pendragon, pulls the sword out of the stone and becomes King. Together with Merlin, he constructs a round table, at which only the best knights of England may sit. The closet to Arthur is Sir Lancelot.

Arthur is married to Guinevere who becomes queen. But Lancelot and Guinevere fall in love, and one day Arthur ‘accidentally’ reads a text message from Lancelot on Guinevere’s phone and finds out that they are having an affair. In a jealous fit he kills Lancelot and Guinevere and then kills himself, before any of the Knights of the Round Table are able to embark on their heroic adventures. What could have been a great tale ends up being covered sleazily by the tabloids.

Robinson Crusoe

Crusoe joins a sea expedition but he is shipwrecked in a storm about forty miles out to sea on an island (which he calls the Island of Despair) on 30 September 1659. As for his arrival there, only he and three animals, the captain's dog and two cats, survive the shipwreck. Overcoming his despair, he fetches arms, tools, and other supplies from the ship before it breaks apart and sinks. He builds a fenced-in habitat near a cave which he excavates. He reads the Bible and becomes religious, thanking God for his fate in which nothing is missing but human society.

Using his mobile phone, which he had salvaged from the ship, Crusoe meets a woman on a dating website. The woman joins him on the island where they get married and have many children. Crusoe’s Instagram account of his life on the island quickly becomes very popular, and soon they are joined by many others on the island. Crusoe successfully recreates a functioning capitalist society and is soon able to relax after work at his gentlemen’s club where women are not allowed, and they all lived happily ever after.

Don Quixote

Don Quixote follows the adventures of a nameless hidalgo (given the name Alonso Quixano) who reads so many chivalric novels that he loses his sanity and decides to set out to revive chivalry, undo wrongs, and bring justice to the world, under the name Don Quixote. He recruits a simple farmer, Sancho Panza, as his squire, who often employs a unique, earthy wit in dealing with Don Quixote's rhetorical orations on antiquated knighthood. Don Quixote does not see the world for what it is, and prefers to imagine that he is living out a knightly story.

Before they set out on their first adventure, Panza insists that the pair take a selfie with his new mobile phone. On seeing the selfie, Don Quixote is brutally confronted with the ridiculousness of his appearance, as happens to many of us when we see ourselves in a selfie. This is enough to undermine the entire metaphorical and existential structure of the novel, as the shock brings Don Quixote back to his senses and makes him realise how dissociated from reality he had become. He quickly returns into his normal life, and gets into gaming instead.

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Karl reMarks is a blog about Middle East politics and culture with a healthy dose of satire.

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