Someone quoted Peter Pan online again, recently. This always blows me away, because I have read Peter Pan. I have to wonder if they have, but I don't want to just be rude.
See, Peter Pan is messed up.
I mean, MESSED UP. I write about abused children, I like gothy dark stuff like cannibal serial killer pastel ponies, and 'how many main characters are going to die?' is a good question to ask before picking up anything I write. Peter Pan makes my skin crawl.
It's not the acts that are portrayed. There's a fair amount of murder and spiteful cruelty in Peter Pan, but kids like dramatic tension as much as adults do. What's messed up about Peter Pan is the attitude. Peter Pan is nothing short of a psychopath. Other people's happiness is something he can only barely comprehend. Friendships are entirely about what someone can do for him. He really, really enjoys killing people, and looks forward to his Lost Boys growing up so that he can force them out of his club and make them become pirates and he can butcher them. Morally, he and Captain Hook are not an eyelash apart.
This is presented as the magic of childhood. The good part. Not the wonder of strange things around every corner, or boundless imagination, or the ability to love freely. The book Peter Pan presents Peter as the perfect child and his life as the perfect childhood because it is filled with absolute selfishness and gleeful cruelty. One of the examples of Peter Pan's personality (SPOILER) the book uses is that at the very end Tinkerbell dies, and he doesn't notice or care. Other people have no value to Peter Pan, and again, he's held up as the very model of what childhood should be.
Reading a book saturated with that attitude gave me the heebie-jeebies. Oh, and the passages about how grown women naturally have the hots for Peter because he has all his baby teeth - that was messed up, too.