Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fairy Tale Films and Women


I hope you didn't miss this interesting article which quotes some people regularly referenced here at SurLaLune.

From Are new raft of fairy tale films and TV shows fair to their female characters? By Gretchen Van Benthuysen:

Dr. Jack Zipes, a retired University of Minnesota professor and author of more than a dozen books, including “The Enchanted Screen: The Unknown History of Fairy-Tale Films” and “Breaking the Magic Spell: Radical Theories of Folk & Fairy Tales,” says the message films such as “Mirror Mirror” and “Snow White and the Huntsman” deliver is that women must compromise their femininity to succeed.

“‘To become a true woman, you first must become a man,” he says. “In ‘Mirror Mirror,’ Snow White trains to use a sword to defeat the queen. In ‘The Huntsman’ she must become a warrior.”

Even in the animated film “Brave,” released in June, Princess Merida splits open her dress as she relies on her archery skills to undo a beastly curse. “She uses a bow and arrow and wants to become a man, subliminally,” Zipes adds.


“No strategy for survival is solely masculine or feminine,” says Kate Bernheimer, editor of “My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales,” who sees things differently. “Many old fairy tales feature women and girls surviving using a multitude of strategies. Fairy tales are possibility spaces, but clichés are locked boxes."

“I’m less interested in Snow White’s misogynistic feelings. I’m not interested in the mother figure in terms of survival. Fairy tales create rather than prevent potential for victims,” she explains. “They offer radical solutions to very bad problems, very real problems.

“The Snow White character is a survivor who wins in the end,” Bernheimer says. “How she survives is a magnetic story for artists and audiences regardless of the way the details around her are used, for better or worse. She is a strong heroine and the story has a sublime ending. “

The beauty of a fairy tale, she says, is it’s open to any interpretation.

1 comment:

  1. I fundamentally disagree with Zipes. He assumes that warriors are men and women should wear dresses based on his analysis. Snow and Merida are discarding their societies' ideas about what women should be, not wanting to be men. There is a vast difference between the two. I think Zipes has a very narrow, old fashioned view of femininity.