In the narratives chapter of the Convergences text, I was drawn to the section on fairy tales and urban legends.
Fairy tales and urban legends are both popular and prevalent in contemporary culture. Folk tales and fairy tales date back to early pre-literate cultures and used the narrative structure to convey cultural history and moral lessons in a memorable way. Many of these stories have persisted and been adapted to fit the needs of the culture, especially as teaching/entertainment tools for children. Originally told, then published and read, and finally, brought to film, we embrace the simple lessons at the heart of those stories: don’t be greedy or selfish, be resourceful, love and obey your parents, don’t go into the woods alone!
Of course, urban legends make great horror movies, and the more the audience is familiar with the legend, the greater the engagement. Have you been out parking or camping and told or been told “The Hook”? That one was even around in my day.
I always find it interesting to think about the roles that the arts play in culture, and in the case of legends and tales, I wondered about why we have this recent resurgence of fairy tales in the arts. Disney and others made a killing by producing modern adaptations of fairy tales, especially during the ’50s and again in the ’80s and ’90s, and some of the recent crop of fairy tale arts may just be a nostalgia play or even cost-cutting by saving the cost of an original script, but I think the recent reworkings of fairy tales reflect contemporary sensibilities.
Both original and adaptations of traditional fairy tales have emerged in a variety of artistic media. There are graphic novels and comics, novels and short stories, Broadway plays, animations and live-action movies, games, and television shows.
The new retellings are more adult-audience oriented, the settings are darker and grittier, the girls are more assertive, and the morals are more compromised. This new crop of stories may be addressing contemporary disillusionments about moral truths or redressing previous stereotypes (the female victim/male hero). Or maybe it’s a cash cow fad and I’m reading too much into it. What do you think?
Fables #53 comic cover, http://www.thesnipenews.com
The Bloody Chamber cover, The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, http://www.amazon.com
Grimm wallpaper by George Spigot, https://georgespigot.wordpress.com/tag/grimm/
Snow White and the Huntsman movie poster, http://www.amazon.com