(12/23/01 3:00:59 pm)
| false sense of reality|
I would like to hear you opinion on whether or not you agree with the argument that fairy tales create a false sense of reality and only set up children with impossible dreams that are bound for failure..ie..marrying a prince?
(12/23/01 7:03:38 pm)
| Re: false sense of reality|
We are all fairy tale apologists here, so of course our opinions are biased. I will answer that fairy tales do create a different sense of reality for many readers, but it is not in the negative sense. Most of us here have studied and favor the older versions of the tales which are quite often far from romantic and are more real in the issues they address than other fiction from the past and present. Sleeping Beauty is a victim of rape, Cinderella is a murderer, Deerskin is a victim of incest, and Rapunzel escapes using her own wits in these older tales.
However, the "cleaning up" of these tales for children has often oversanitized and avoided dealing with the harsh realities the originals addressed. One of the charms of the older tales, even the ones that are not as extreme in content, is the hero/heroine's ability to transform, triumph, overcome, etc. The tales usually offer hope for the future and inspiration during tribulation. I am an optimistic realist who sees that life is harsh, but that life can be good again despite the worst circumstances. The tales support my personal philosophy and thus I embrace them.
Much of the anti-fairy tale hype surfaced during the Equal Rights Movement. Many of the arguments were against the modern interpretations, such as Disney's, that the writers grew up with and that were perpetuated as stereotypes in the media, especially advertising. This backlash was often used more constructively by Angela Carter, Anne Sexton, and other writers to explore the meanings of these fairy tales to adult readers.
The argument could be made that the Disneyfication of the tales does create a false sense of reality. But this is more Hollywood's doing than it is the fault of the tales. Afterall, the Disney versions are usually the definitive versions of the tales for a large portion of society these days. Sure, there are romantic picture book versions, but even the collections of tales printed since Disney hit the scenes tend to omit the grittier tales that provided a balanced collection for CHILDREN in the past. Bluebeard and Donkeyskin were regular inclusions in children's collections until the mid-20th century in my informal survey of the literature over the years.
Disney has perpetuated the stereotypes and the false realities by changing endings, stories, whatever would please the populace. After all, they are a business first; they make money by providing fantastical entertainment. Little Mermaid gets her prince only in their version; in the original she becomes sea foam. The rumors of what is coming next from the studio are clear--they want another "princess" movie. The rumor mill is abuzz here in Hollywood and I am waiting to see what will become fact. Hans Christian Andersen seems to be favored in most of the rumors and I seriously doubt any of his sad endings will end up in a Disney animated feature. That doesn't mean we won't get a movie that shares a title with one of Andersen's tales though.
Please also read my thoughts about Disney's Beauty and the Beast in the Disney influences posts. I have been dealing with Disney a lot the past few weeks so I seem to have an awful lot to say about them. And I still watch and enjoy the movies, too. I am not anti-Disney, but I am anti-Disney's all encompassing influence on modern knowledge of fairy tales. I love romantic comedies and musicals and other movies. They are more dangerous to me than fairy tales since they give the idea that love can be achieved and primarily based on physical appearance in two hours while sitting in a dark theatre.
Disney is not the only culprit either. Authors and editors and illustrators have joined the ranks at times according to which story they believed in. Or which one they thought would sell. Sad, but true!
Finally, the debate over the use of fantasy in a child's life is a long one and not centered on fairy tales. Some people simply do not like anything but "reality" in their fiction--it is amazing they even bother to read fiction at all. However, most of us know that fantasy encourages the ability to use imagination and even practice a faith by helping us learn how to believe in things that are real but cannot be proven or seen. The tooth fairy and Santa Claus and the Golem and so many other "unreal" things do not seem to have damaged most of us who have believed in them--even if we still do!
Now I am stepping away from this typing frenzy without a single attempt at an edit!
Edited by: Heidi Anne Heiner at: 12/23/01 7:07:53 pm
(12/23/01 7:30:39 pm)
| Re: false sense of reality|
I'm just going to add an anecdote here: one of my professors had (well, she still has but I haven't seen them in a couple years) a lovely little girl, age 5 at the time. I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up and she answered, "A princess." I thought, Oh dear! Too many Disney movies! I asked her, "What do you think a princess does? Live in a castle with a prince?" She gave me an impatient look, hands on her hips and answered, "No! They kill Storm Troopers!"
Ah, well. . . I had no response for that.