Monday, November 16, 2009

Fairy Tale Week Introduction

There are many different things that can and have been said about fairy tales. My attempt this week is not to change anyone’s mind or provide some original idea of what the fairy tale means or how they affect us today (sorry to disappoint you). The truth is almost any position you have on fairy tales can be backed up by someone somewhere.

picture by Joe Penniston

My goals for this week are to offer a bunch of different ways of looking at fairy tales. Most of them will challenge the conventional wisdom (which doesn’t need defending since it’s readily accepted), but some of them won't. Either way I hope everyone who stumbles across my little section of the internet will walk away with something.

Here are a few things you will see this week:

1. Fairy tale inspired artwork
2. A different fairy tale every other day that is more unknown and probably not suitable for children
3. A breakdown of the major themes found in fairy tales using a popular story that represents that theme
4. Disney specific criticism
5. Book recommendations of fairy tales that have been “retold” for teens and adults as well as some books for children that don’t fit the standard fair tale mold
6. Photographs of Disney land/world
7. Ads around the world that have used fairy tale themes as well as some fashion editorials
8. Whatever else tickles my fancy

As you can see by my plan to include book recommendations, this week is not an attempt to convince anyone that fairy tales shouldn’t be enjoyed. But like porn, fairy tales are a balancing act of positive and negative aspects. As with anything well loved, the more unsavory aspects of fairy tales tend to be overlooked and I am trying to fix that this week.

The reality is fairy tales are an art form. Each individual person is going to take different things from each story (at least to a certain extent). That’s one of the most powerful things about fairy tales – they reaffirm whatever ideas you already hold. They help us believe that anything is possible and nothing bad can last. As we’re all heroes in our own stories, the idea that the hero always wins and the evil witch will be punished is precious to us.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

But none of those comforts and warm feelings change the fact that fairy tales also reinforce negative stereotypes and support the system that held down the hero in the first place. Fairy tales are meant to inspire, but that does not mean we should ignore the negative messages fairy tales can peddle.

1 comment:

What's on your mind?