A column style piece based on fairytales.
|Whatever happened to happily ever after?
With the economic decline, rising unemployment and the freezing weather continuing, you’d think a lovely little once-upon-a-time tale was in order at bedtime. To keep our innocent children from becoming aware of the dark clouds settling over Britain. So when I recently rifled through my boyfriend’s bookshelf I was surprised and delighted to discover a Roald Dahl book, entitled ‘Revolting Rhymes’. Having frequently read Dahl’s books as a child, I eagerly set about reading it. I was dismayed to find that Dahl, having written many of the books I was read as a child, described Cinderella as a ‘dirty slut’. How could he!? After the heart-warming tale of Danny, Champion of the World and the mouth-watering Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, how could he destroy the classic fairytale so brutally?
These ‘new and improved’ fairytales are rude and illuminating mockeries of our favourite childhood classics and are ruining the images we’ve held in our heads since we were little girls. Instead of a heroic rescue from the woodsman and her ‘happily ever after’, we have a Red Riding Hood who ‘whips a pistol from her knickers’ and shoots the wolf. These fairytales seem to be telling us to forget about the rescue scene and learn to rescue ourselves. It is actually possible that there is no knight in shining armour?
How many young girls have hoped for their very own handsome prince to whisk them off into the sunset on his noble white steed, to live happily ever after? After a lifetime of bad dates and failed relationships the idyllic image of Mr. Right coming to save the day seems ridiculous. Feminism has taught us that women are perfectly capable of achieving everything that they wish for in life, taught us that we can do everything a man can do, and we can do it in 6-inch Louboutins.
By replacing the romanticised stories with parody and vulgarity, it makes it that little bit easier to believe that we can, in fact, make it on our own. That we don’t need a man to come and hold our hand; that we are capable of supporting ourselves financially; that when there’s a bang downstairs in the middle of the night we can go and look for ourselves. We so desperately need to believe these things because, when things go bump in the night, there’s no handsome prince to turn to when we get scared.
Fairytales would have us believe that soon enough, this perfect man, all blonde hair and blue eyes, straight from the pages of the Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue, will just casually stroll into our lives, and magically make us feel complete. But the fairy stories you heard are wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Everything we were told throughout our childhoods has been ripped up and thrown away. There is no Mr. Right, there is no knight in shining armour, and we only have ourselves to look to.
Our modern lives have taught us through disappointing relationships and men who let us down that in fact, despite everything we were told as little girls, there is no chance, no way, no how, that fairytales will ever come true. We won’t live in a castle, wear Versace ball gowns and be waited on by singing teapots for the rest of our lives. That princess fantasy you held so dear is just that, a fantasy. Despite this, it was nice to be told as a child that everything would be okay when ‘we grew up’. Every bedtime I demanded Snow White and Rapunzel, and longed to be that girl with the shining hair.
Why should authors be able to take the story that millions of little girls hear every night, and rip it to shreds through rude and crass language? It should be banned. Even my old faithful, Wikipedia, describes Dahl’s book as ‘re-interpreted fairytales’. Does nobody understand the significance of fairy stories to a young girl? They give her hopes and dreams, as they do to millions of other children around the globe. Why should authors take fairytales and use them as vessels for their mockery of their hatred? Haven’t they heard of Room 101?
Take James Garner. His book, Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, uses the structure of a fairytale to mock the nation’s need to be politically correct and avoid offence. He describes the heroic rescuer, the woodsman, as ‘Sexist! Speciesist!’ in his tale of Little Red Riding Hood, and then has the red-cloaked heroine cut off his head. Surely this is not why Brothers Grimm went to all that hard work.
So please, authors, give us back our children’s fairy stories. They are not yours to rewrite, and definitely not yours to destroy.