Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bring back the light

In the last few days, I've come across a couple of pieces of interest. Today on Jezebel, Intern Katy blogged about Fairy Tale Heroines Return to Dark Roots in Modern Setting. I am intrigued, but I still have a few doubts about the projects on this theme.

One of the doubts is that the 'return' isn't really a return. Fairy tales have always had a mix of dark and light (yes, even Disney's versions) and some of these images wearied me to a degree - they seem a continued victimisation of the princess. Beauty was never really obsessed with her Beauty. Snow White didn't seek a Prince - he turned up, she became Queen. And having watched Disney's Cinderella, I've always been amused by her desire for the castle... the Prince simply came with it. Of course, it's difficult to get to the heart of these discussions in a blog post, but why do so many want the princess to 'fall' (although, I kind of liked the image of Cinderella in her great dress sitting in the bar - I wonder if she was wearing cowboy boots underneath instead of glass slippers, ready for a chance to line dance?)? Do they really understand the princess? Or the power of a victorious ending?

Then Meg Cabot blogged about trauma porn. The article she links to reminds me of those I read in the 90s. Why is a book more realistic if it's grim? If it deals with sexual abuse, drunkeness, domestic violence, drugs etc? This goes pretty much hand in hand with the argument to return fairy tale to its darker roots (although its darker roots were always laced with comedy and with a healthy dose of victory, justice and revenge too). There seems to be a preoccupation with the idea that reality is awful. That anything with a happy, joyous or comic turn must be 'fantasy' and children and teenagers should be taught that.

That troubles me.

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