Home > Ramblings > Safer fairy tales and poorer stories

Safer fairy tales and poorer stories

September 29, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

Joanna Weiss at the Boston Globe writes about sanitized non-scary, modern versions of classic fairy tales–presumably edited to protect the sensibilities of our children.  Yet, when the tension is removed, do we still have a fairy tale or just a tool to sell merchandise?

Weiss writes,

So there it is: a way to speed straight to the happy ending, without stopping to think about the story along the way. It’s a great way to sell just about anything, but it’s also precisely the opposite of what makes fairy tales compelling in the first place. The modern, commercial fairy tale contains no conflict, no resolution, no questions unresolved, no larger issues to explore.

Weiss discusses how important are the dark elements of fairy tales. “Rich in allegory, endlessly adaptable, fairy tales emerged as a framework for talking about social issues.”  What is the attraction of fairy tales, “It’s because they raise questions that we have not resolved.”

Check out the full article but be aware that you will have to register to read all four pages.

  1. June 24, 2010 at 9:33 am

    I agree with Weiss: fairy tales are largely intended to teach valuable social lessons. But they’re also about entertainment, and a perfectly happy, low-risk (or riskless) story is just not very entertaining. There isn’t anything compelling in a story where there isn’t any danger, any fear of loss, or any fear at all. Fear and danger are facts of life. Scary people exist; bad things happen to good people. It’s dangerous to sugarcoat reality for children. That doesn’t mean that every story has to be terrifying or depressing; but it’s necessary for children to view the world in all its aspects. It’s what helps to foster healthy cognitive growth and helps children learn to deal with the negative experiences in life as well as the positive.

    • June 29, 2010 at 8:22 am

      Thanks! Tough call in knowing when protecting our kids is a healthy thing and when it becomes an unhealthy and unrealistic obsession.

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