Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Roundup: Sleeping with the Beast, Disney and Gender Roles, and Why Hollywood Can't Get it Right

“La belle et la bete” by Julie Faulques
La belle et la bete” by Julie Faulques

Hello Ladies and Jellyspoons!

This month has been crazy, so I have not had a chance to write as often as I like. Once May begins, everything should calm down, and I will be able to post more regularly. In the mean time, I give you a quick round up of fairy tale ephemera and news that has peeked my interest!

Jack Zipes on Disney's Snow White
Tales of Faerie takes on fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes, rebutting his view on Disney's Snow White. It chronicles a history of the film, lists what Disney changed from the original tale, and tempers Zipes' strong opinions on gender roles with a more middle of the road approach:
"I always come back to the fact that-whereas suppression of women was a real problem in the past, we can be grateful we live in a time where there is much more freedom for each gender to break beyond stereotypes. We don't have to resort to the opposite extreme and see all stereotypes as evil. I personally am not bothered by female characters who do housework. I currently earn my own living as well as taking care of my home, and it just doesn't occur to me to get offended."
I certainly enjoy traditionally female gender role activities as well as non-traditional ones. I feel it is just as limiting to say that women should not be seen cooking and cleaning as it is to say that they should only be seen cooking and cleaning. Thoughts?

Why Can't Hollywood Make a Decent Fairy Tale Movie?
Charlie Jane Anders at Io9 examines what he believes the recent fairy tales are missing. He explores the modern films that have flopped and the older ones (like Disney) that have stood the test of time and he finds those that last have "a sense of sincerity and good humor." Disney felt fairy tales should have this formula:
"To captivate our varied and worldwide audience of all ages, the nature and treatment of the fairy tale, the legend, the myth have to be elementary, simple. Good and evil, the antagonists of all great drama in some guise, must be believably personalized. The moral ideals common to all humanity must be upheld. The victories must not be too easy. Strife to test valor is still and will always be the basic ingredient of the animated tale, as of all screen entertainments."
Anders feels that modern fairy tale films "turn the strife into CG and the valor into banter." They are lacking that heart and sincerity that make us so attracted to things like The Princess Bride. Anders feels it is the perfect time for fairy tales because "fairytales become more relevant when people feel powerless — many of us actually are in the position of having made bargains with entities whose true names we're not allowed to know, thanks to the magic of mortgage securitization. At the same time, we still dream of being lifted up from our drudgery to noble status — and we dread having everything that makes us part of middle-class society taken away, if we fall through the cracks the way so many people have."

Perhaps the sincere story is what we need right now, without all the wink-wink, nudge-nudge that post-Shrek Hollywood thinks is necessarily for success.

Villeneuve's Beauty and the Beast: To marry or to sleep with?
Tales of Faerie challenges Jack Zipes again, this time on his translation of the "original" Beauty and the Beast tale (a novella by Madame Gabrielle de Villeneuve). She compares the original french to his translation. Zipes tells the story with the more well-known formula, where each night the Beast asks Belle to marry him, and she refuses. In the French version, however, it seems he was asking her each night to sleep with him. Which actually makes a lot more sense to me:
"Ce charmant spectacle ayant suffisamment dure, la Bete temoigna a sa nouvelle epouse qu'il etait temps de se mettre au lit. Quelque peu d'impatience qu'eut la Belle de se trouver aupres de cet epoux singulier, elle se coucha. Les lumieres s'eteignirent a l'instant. La Bete, s'approchant, fit apprehender a la Belle que de poids de son corps elle n'ecrasat leur couche. Mais elle fut agreablement etonnee en sentant que ce monstre se mattait a ses cotes aussi legerement qu'elle venait dele faire. Sa surprise fut bien plus grande, quand elle l'entendit ronfler presque aussitot, et que par sa tranquillite, elle eut une preuve certaine qu'il dormait d'un profond sommeil."
Strangely, it is not even "sleep with" in a sexual sense. He just wants to lay next to her, and when he does, he falls right asleep. It is kind of sweet, actually!

I will have a Once Upon a Time Review Dump coming soon!


  1. "I feel it is just as limiting to say that women should not be seen cooking and cleaning as it is to say that they should only be seen cooking and cleaning."

    Yep! I think this is a sentiment very true to feminism, that doesn't get expressed very often. :-) I think it's often difficult to say, too, where we can be sure we've seen the author's opinion. (Is it just a character, or is it the author's opinion of the way the world ought to be?) Which is even more interesting in fairy tales, that carry a lot of historical luggage around.