Thursday, July 11, 2013


Brief post today!

Yesterday, I mentioned that I am a bit of a fairy tale nerd--by which I mean I know and love basically all of them. I did not mention the other, vaguely implied fact that I also totally lurve modern works inspired by fairy tales--especially mash-ups.

Growing up (and beyond), I always had a vague notion that every fairy tale takes place in the same world. So, duh, the Little Mermaid and Cinderella were neighbors, and Cinderella and Snow White probably had at least one horrible relative-through-marriage in common. The Big Bad Wolf probably had a taste for both pigs AND little girls in red coats. And the evil fairy who curses Sleeping Beauty may very well have lived in a tower with no doors and no stairs, where she kept her forcibly adopted daughter with the impossibly long hair.

Some of the older stories--at the moment I'm thinking of the 12 Dancing Princesses and Kate Crackernuts--even have eerily similar details (forests with silver/gold/emerald branches, leading to a fairy realm), but are very specifically different tales (one involves a young man discovering the source of illness for 12 princesses, the other involves a young girl ((the daughter of an evil stepmother, no less!)) discovering a cure for a sick prince). So, yeah, same world, different adventures. What, you think Venice only ever inspired ONE grand adventure?

But the depth and history of the fairy tale world is not what I'm getting at here.

As I thought about it, I noticed a curious thing: most of the modern mash-ups center on the story of Snow White. If she (or her wicked stepmother  ((originally just her mother!!))) is not the main character, then the main character is her descendant. I've seen this in comic books, tv series, and novels. Snow White isn't my favorite fairy tale--not by a long shot--but it seems to be the most iconic one.

Sure, there's a lot of memorable details--the enchanted mirror, the jealous witch, the merciful huntsman, the seven dwarfs, the poisoned apple! But there are memorable details in all of the fairy tales--that's why they've stuck around for so long. "What big eyes you have!" Glass slippers. The white rabbit. Bread crumbs. "Fee, fie, foe, fum!" A curse broken by a kiss.

I don't even need to tell you what these bits and bobs are from--they scream their own origin. So why is it that Snow White gets all of the attention? Disney could be said to have a hand in it--they made Snow White the star of the first ever full-length animated feature. But that was decades upon decades ago. It's not the most popular of their films, and I wouldn't say it's the most popular fairy tale (I would have to give that to Cinderella, if only because the whole 'rags to riches' thing is so pervasive in our dreams).

So, why Snow White? What do you think, internet?

And what is your favorite fairy tale?

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