Wednesday, March 14, 2012

On Fairy Tales

Hmm... Typing that reminds me of a particularly good essay by The Professor (an honorific for J.R.R. Tolkien used on the LOTRO Forums) called "On Fairy-Stories."  If you get a chance to read it do so.  It is worth it.

As one can probably tell from my posts on Once Upon a Time, I am a fan of fairy tales.  Make that a fairy-tale-oholic.  I don't know how many books/movies/etc. of fairy tales (or adaptations/recreations thereof) I have.  Now I am not the only fan of fairy tales, one only has to look at the entertainment industry to see that fairy tales are the new "it" theme.  Not only do NBC and ABC have shows based of fairy tales (Grimm, which I lost interest in months ago and the vastly superior Once) but there are not one but two Snow White movies coming out in the near(-ish) future (Mirror, Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman).
"Wait," you might be asking, "wouldn't that get repetitive?  They are all based on the same thing!"  Well...  No.  Saying that is like saying Twilight and Dracula are the same because they are both about vampires.  They aren't one is one of the great Horrors and the other is a kind-of trashy romance.  (I feel I am justified in saying that because I have read the entire "Saga."  I wish I hadn't, but I have.)  Likewise Once is Lost-esque, Grimm is a crime drama, Mirror, Mirror is a comedy and Snow White and the Huntsman is an action/drama (I think).  All are very different genres.

So there is a question begging to be asked, why are fairy tales so popular?  If you look at the world's state of affairs it is kind of obvious.  Economies aren't doing so well, heck even entire countries have gone bankrupt, the world vacuums  at the moment.  Is it any wonder people are liking something that reminds them of the point in their childhoods when they hadn't a care in the world?

Of course it is wise to remember the modern way of telling the tales is not he original way of doing so;  the tales have been "Disney'd."  That is made them all happy and cheerful while the originals were actually quite dark.  And rightly so!  Their purpose wasn't to entertain, they were cautionary tales.

Take Little Red Riding Hood, most people think it goes something like this, "Girl meets wolf in forest on way to Grandma's house.  Wolf runs ahead and eats/pretends to be Grandma.  Red shows up and talks about Grandma's features are so big.  Wolf is somehow defeated and Red and Grandma both survive."  Right?  Wrong.  Most of it is right but the ending this, "Wolf eats Red.  Then Woodsman comes along, kills the wolf and cuts Red out of its stomach."  Gruesome, right?  The point of the story is thus,

Children, especially attractive, well bred young ladies, should never talk to strangers, for if they should do so, they may well provide dinner for a wolf. I say "wolf," but there are various kinds of wolves. There are also those who are charming, quiet, polite, unassuming, complacent, and sweet, who pursue young women at home and in the streets. And unfortunately, it is these gentle wolves who are the most dangerous ones of all.
                                                                               Little Red Riding Hood

No comments:

Post a Comment