Happy Tuesday and Happy National Tell a Fairytale Day!! That’s right, February 26 is all about celebrating fairytales. Naturally Kym and Kris have chosen to take what’s lovely and beautiful and seemingly happy-ever-after and turn it on it’s morbid little head. Because if you really believe all those Disney happy endings, honey sit down, because the truth is downright scary. AND mugly.
First of all, the fairytales we all know and love have been around for centuries (the oldest known tale called “The Smith and The Devil” is believed to be 7,000 years old!). Among the most well known set of stories published in the early 19th century were by librarian brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm as a way to prevent the stories of their Germanic heritage being lost forever. Prior to that, most tales were passed down in oral tradition as moral teachings and guidance. Apparently, telling children not to wander into the forest for fear of being baked by a witch was a great way to keep them playing in the front yard.
But beyond just moralizing opportunities, the tales were a snapshot of the social norms of the day. The value (or lack thereof, let’s face it) of women and children, the struggles of day to day existence, famine, disease…many of the stories we fawn over today as lovely and feel-good really were quite gruesome. So much so that over time some storylines actually became omitted. (Do you know what the ugly step sisters actually did to get that damned slipper to fit?? DO YOU??) We’ll warn you now…many include the deaths of women and children and there seemed to be just a smidge of cannibalism going on. Remember, famine.
Interesting side-note: according to this article History of Fairytales, by Susie McGee, the oral origins of the stories made famous by male authors like the Grimms, Hans Christian Andersen, and Charles Perrault, “[go] back much further than the 17th century, and many of these stories are actually just retellings of age-old tales, many created by women and retold throughout history” and “women typically created fairy tales with a distinct purpose in mind-to protest the societal constraints that were placed upon them and to emphasis their own rights as women in a man’s world.”
Mostly the takeaway is we’re REALLY glad we’re 21st century women and that our kids have no idea how great their lives are.
Speaking of grim, those brothers are the ones mainly responsible for the rest of the world learning about Little Snow White, The Golden Goose, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Cinderella, The Brave Little Tailor, The Pied Piper, and Rumplestiltskin.
But they’re not the only ones who you know about even if you don’t know you know them. Mm-hmm.
In France, Charles Perrault created the classic Tales of Mother Goose including a version of Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood, as well as Puss In Boots, The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood, and Bluebeard. In Denmark Hans Christian Andersen gained fame with The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, Thumbelina, The Snow Queen, and many others.
Clearly, ticking off popular Disney movie title after movie title after movie title, one doesn’t have to look very far in today’s entertainment industry to understand how far-reaching the legacies of these stories have been.
Don’t even get us started on how all the happy-ending purty la la renditions have caused a whole generation of people to expect unrealistic life arcs. Which makes them easily offended. Which makes life annoying a lot of times. There’s no scientific data to back that statement, we just feel VURRRY strongly that that is accurate. Just an observation.
We ARE glad certain huge movie makers are creating better female characters who are heroic, brave, and can save their own hide and a couple other people’s as well. And they don’t necessarily have to marry anyone in the end either. You go Elsa and Anna!
Anyway. Hey. Look. Looklookie here. Listen. Don’t mind us. Have we mentioned we’re getting older and hormonal? OF COURSE we’re going to find the bitching in the pudding (by the way, the story behind Jack Horner is kind of cool)…but don’t let us ruin a perfectly amazing opportunity to crack open your favorite Beauty and the Beast illustrated book and read it to a loved one (including yourself) if you’re so inclined. Because truth…mugly truth that is…be told, we’re suckers for happily ever after, so bring on the sanitized versions dear friends. Let’s all d’awwww together.
For more information on the articles cited in this episode and blog post please visit the following:
And, if you’re motivated, unlike Kris, to write your very own fairytale, feel free to check this article out: Exploring genre | How to write a fairy tale
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Intro and outro music, “Clever as a Fox” by Espresso Music through premiumbeats.com
Photos courtesy Wikipedia commons and public domain.