Monday, September 22, 2008

Squeeky clean fairy tales

There is a good article in The Boston Globe today about the sanitizing of fairy tales:

Fear of fairy tales
The glossy, sanitized new versions of fairy tales leave out what matters: the scary parts
By Joanna Weiss
September 21, 2008

Admittedly, this is nothing new and fairy tales are always evolving. I remember reading a collection of traditional fairy tales in third grade, and being shocked that the stepsisters in Cinderella were mutilating their feet to try and fool the prince. Certainly changed my view of things! Any more, when young girls come in asking for Cinderella, or Beauty and the Beast, etc...I always ask if they are looking for the Disney version right away. Too many years I tried to trick them into trying other versions, and 90% of the time they really only wanted the packaged princess.

Where do you see the shift, between kids who only want the squeaky clean Disney version of things, and teens who want the raw, disturbing fairy tales and their contemporary retellings? Are we softening things too much for children, leading to greater rebellion and distrust as teens? Or is society just adapting to trying to preserve innocence in a media saturated society?


Jackie Parker said...

Don't know that I'd call it adapting...

Anonymous said...

I can't speak for other people, but I know that I didn't really start enjoying the darker folk and fairy tales until I was about 10. I wasn't completely put off by the dark stuff, but I did prefer Disney's Little Mermaid to Anderson's. I think that had a lot to do with my world view, though -- when I was 10 everything seemed to get bigger and scarier and also, in some ways, more wonderful. More recently, as a teacher of kids ages 8-11, I noticed that the transition between liking gentler, happier stories and being more interested in darker, more violent stories occurred around the age of 10.

Things are softened too much for children, and yes, that may cause a greater rebellion when they're teens. I also think that teens seek out the original, darker fairy tales and their re-tellings because they often (rightly) get the sense that something was withheld when they were younger and they very much want to know what was being kept from them. I know that I certainly felt that way when I was a teen.