Sometimes, it’s so obvious and manipulative that it’s sickening, and I’m starting to feel that we all should be doing our part in maintaining more realistic standards. Hollywood would have us believe that Charlotte A. Cavatica, the plucky protagonist from Charlotte’s Web, is a blue-grey Asian spider with a Beatles haircut and a warm, inviting smile, as seen here. Nope. Nope nope nope nope nope.
Alternately, as CGI began to introduce more “realism” into animation, they started getting the coloration a little more accurate and managed to include pedipalps, but we are still to believe that she is crossed with a walrus, or perhaps Wilford Brimley, kindly-looking in a sleepy way and somehow possessing pupils. Nuh uh.
This is what she truly looked like. It has long been known that E.B. White had modeled his character after a barn spider, Araneus cavaticus, which does not have a blue moptop, does not have brown pupils, and will never have a well-coifed appearance. Barn spiders have descended on the property here in droves, making it challenging to walk anywhere at night without encountering a web, and none of them even come close to those idealized and prissy depictions above. It sends a bad message out to kids, who may start thinking spiders should be pretty, or even smooth, and may then believe that the real thing is unattractive, perhaps even, not to be alarmist here, hideous. Nobody would spot an A. cavaticus in a web and excitedly say, “Look! It’s Charlotte!” Instead, thanks to ridiculously unrealistic expectations fostered by a sanitized and appearance-driven enterprise, they’re more likely to say, “Whaaashitjesusfuckdonttouchit!” And how do you think that’s gonna make the spiders feel, huh?
Charlotte was a bristling ogre of an arachnid from humble stock with round beady eyes, a rusted-out Ford pickup overgrown with thorn bushes, and did not have antennae! Why can’t we accept that as it is? But no, some pig ignorant graduate of the Templeton School of Drama decided we needed the Photoshopped version, radiant and eloquent despite having no tongue, teeth, or lips. That’s just terrific.