Monday, October 22, 2012

Discussion: Fairy Tales and Disney

Cinderella. Snow White. Sleeping Beauty. The Little Mermaid. Beauty and the Beast.

Yes, these are the titles of some of the most well-known and most beloved fairy tales, but reading these names, most people's minds will skip over the original stories to land firmly on the images of the Disney Princesses.

Now, I must disclaim: I love Disney movies, especially the classic animated Disney. I could gush for hours about the old animations, the music, the stories, and how they have shaped American culture since Snow White was released in 1937. However, I feel that in the case of fairy tales, Disney has become too ingrained in our minds.

Even non-princess tales have been affected by Disneyification. Say "Robin Hood" to many young adults, and they will think of the cheerful animated fox from their childhoods. Say "Peter Pan" and everyone will think of the green-capped, orange-haired boy from the movie. Same with, Pinocchio, Alice in Wonderland, and The Jungle Book. However much I love the animated renditions of these stories, there is another - original - version that seems to so often get forgotten.

Another side effect of Disneyification is that the Disney version of the character seems to be the standard version of the character. Dressing up as Snow White? Where are the puff sleeves and yellow skirt? Doodling the Little Mermaid? Red hair, purple shell-bra, and green tail are absolute musts. Even Alice in Wonderland is never seen without her standard blue dress and white apron (although in that case I know that the original illustrations are a heavy influence as well).

That is why I love those tales that have not yet been transformed by Disney. I can’t get enough of The Goose Girl, East of the Sun, West of the Moon, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Rumplestilskin, and so many others. They don’t have set character images in my – and everyone else’s – minds.

It is my hope that someday “Beauty and the Beast” can call to mind Robin McKinley’s Beauty as well as Disney’s Belle. I wish that people will be able to think of Shannon Hale’s Rapunzel’s Revenge as well as Disney’s Tangled. And it would be my dream come true if people would acknowledge the original fairy tales when they begin humming Someday My Prince Will Come or Part of Your World. Although with all the wonderful times that Disney movies have given us, I suppose I can’t complain.

3 comments:

Debz said...

Wonderful, Pica! You shared my thoughts so much more eloquently than I ever could. Thank you for coming up with such a great discussion post. I'll be spreading the word throughout the day.

Briana said...

Interestingly, a lot of people who took our fairy tale character quiz assumed we had based it on Disney princesses, which was not the case at all. In fact, Krysta wrote the quiz before Disney had even made a Rapunzel movie. (So, yeah, we modified an existing quiz to be used for the challenge, which I hope no one interprets as "cheating." :p)

I admit I did recolor the dress on the Snow White graphic to colors I know people would associate with the Disney version, however. But nowhere do I remember there being a green dress in Tangled. :D

Aleksandra said...

Great post :) And I totally agree with you :)

I actually wanted to write something in my wrap up post about the original fairy tales vs all the different versions now, and I'm not talking about the retellings, but about the way the stories are changed, and people have no idea how they're changed, and Disney is the perfect example :)

So, yeah, once again, great post :D

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