Fractured Fairy Tales

I’ve long taken issue with Disney movies, and how the mother is either murdered early on, or never mentioned at all. I think that Melody is just fortunate to still have a mom in Ariel 2, because Ariel could have just as easily been shark bait before the opening credits had rolled.

I’ve heard rumors that an Ariel 3 is in the works. So, there’s still time for her to meet with an untimely demise.

Just so you know, I still haven’t fully recovered from the gruesome death of Bambi’s mother.

And that was nearly 40 years ago.

Some things are just hard to let go of.

My girls hardly notice the mother is MIA in their favorite Disney films. In fact, they have been known to kill off the mothers in their Barbie stories, and replace me her with “Aunt Trish.”

A lesser mommy would be bitter.

The other night, during our bedtime ritual, I thought I’d read them a fairy tale. Recently, I found a book, The World Treasury of Children’s Literature at Amazon.com. This was a book I had borrowed from my MIL and I grew to love it so, that I wanted to add it to our library at home.

It’s a wonderful compilation of nursery rhymes, poems, and stories from renowned children’s authors.

I came to an author’s commentary on the Grimm Brothers. I thought it would be interesting to read the original fairy tales they wrote, such as “Cinderella”, “The Sleeping Beauty”, “Rapunzel”, and “Red Riding Hood.”

Allrightythen.

Suddenly, the Disney movies don’t look so dismal to me.

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT: Did you know, that in “Cinderella”, the father lived, and allowed the evil stepmother to treat Cinderella like that? AND, when the wicked stepsisters were attempting to stuff their fat feet into the golden slipper, their mother handed them a knife and told them to cut off part of their feet? And they went from a size 12 to a size 6 narrow in just a matter of moments!

As I lay there with my daughters, JUST BEFORE THEY WERE TO FALL ASLEEP, I was trying to sugarcoat and sidestep, but they were on to me. “MOMMY, SHE WAS BLEEDING! RIGHT THERE IN THE SHOE?

For them, it was the ick factor of having to try on a shoe that your sister had just been bleeding all over.

Then, I discovered that “Rapunzel’s” prince had his eyes put out because of the evil witch. Try to make that sound like “happily ever after.” Fortunately, his sight was restored by his true love, who had been living in the wilderness with THEIR TWIN CHILDREN. “But Mommy, how did they get married?” Because, evidently, there was some hanky panky in the tower prior to Rapunzel’s evil caretaker giving her a sassy blunt cut.

In my impromptu version of the story, I arranged a proper wedding. With flower girls and all.

Because I can. I’m the mommy.

I found “Sleeping Beauty” to be the least offensive of all of them. And I can’t even bear to go into what happens to the wolf in “Red Riding Hood.” There were some very tense moments for the good grandmother, as well.

Fortunately, the girls have not experienced any nightmares. I, on the other hand, have been overheard muttering in my sleep, “it’s only a story, it’s only a story….”

doll-in-captivity.jpgAnd I had put it out of my mind until last evening when Cailey came to me with her doll trussed up thusly:

“Mommy, can she go in the water?”

“Whoa. Cailey. That’s harsh.”

“Don’t worry mom, it’s just part of the story.”

I’m thinking that all the money in my cuss jar may be going to fund future therapy for the child.

Or some new reading material.

January 7, 2008

31 Responses to Fractured Fairy Tales

  • I needed a good laugh this morning after I checked out the big news websites, although I won’t go over the story that got to me. Suffice to say that the news is the reason I save my list of blogs for last.

    I read those Grimm fairy tales myself as a kid … back when I was into the weird & strange. Now, as a parent, I can’t read them because the “ick” factor gets to my stomach.

  • And you know what’s interesting? IIRC, the Grimm Brothers tales that we have now are actually *toned down* from the really original originals. There’s a book or two out that have the way old original versions of the stories and I hear they are DOOZIES.

    As for the Disney mom thing, just make sure they have a copy of Mulan. Not only Mom but even Grandma managed to stay alive for that one! LOL

  • I am so with you on the “missing Mom” factor. Seems that Disney really likes to kill off at least one parent, and don’t even get me started on the Brother’s Grimm.

    I can remember when our nephew was really little and I started to tell him the story of the “Three Little Pigs”. The boy is 11 and still thinks the wolf and pigs talked out their problems and became neighbors. I just couldn’t have him fall down the chimney into the fire.

  • Oh my word, you are so right. I remember reading all the original fairy tales when I was a teenager. (Yes, I was a geek.) I was horrified by the darkness and the bloodshed and the all-around evil.

    Maybe that’s why we don’t do fairy tales in our house. I’ve been scarred.

  • Not that Hansel and Gretel isn’t already gruesome enough what with the witch being stuffed into the oven and all (some versions leave that part out), but did you know Hansel and Gretel’s parents were abusive and that is how they happened to be left in the woods to fend for themselves?

  • Oh you’re too much. This is so funny! But it’s true, why are the moms missing on those fairy tales?????

  • What’s so funny is that I attempted to read a few of these stories to my kids a few months back and midway through CInderella, my fabulous impromptu storytelling instincts kicked in and we made it through with very little gore. The hardest part was making the children believe I was reading actual words. That book is now put up HIGH on a bookshelf.

  • I’ll never forget the first time I saw Nemo. The way the mommy (AND all but one baby….) died was so violent! I nearly quit watching the movie right then. It’s now one of my favorites, but we skip the first part at my house.

  • go read the original Little Mermaid, by Hans Christian Anderson. No happy ending there. My favorite Grimms tale is Snow White and Rose Red

  • Oh my goodness… poor thing… It’s either a fairy tale gone bad (they really are the most gruesome of stories…) or some mob reenactment. Did you make sure she wasn’t the doll of the hour playing the mom? That would be my concern…

  • I laughed out loud so hard at this post! So funny!

  • Delurking to finally say…thanks for the laughs! You rock!

  • Walt Disney was the master of horror stories for children. Yours is Bambi…don’t even get me started on Dumbo. I won’t have those two movies in my house, and my all-time fave Disney movie is: The Incredible. A strong, LIVING, mother! Wow. ; )

  • I’m still bitter about all these promises that some day my prince would come and rescue me from something. They missed the fine print of cleaning up after him and dealing with the wicked in-laws. I don’t feel rescued!

    Did she ever explain what the story was?? Could that count for creative writing if you can con them into writing it down on paper?

  • LOL! they learn fast don’t they!!!

  • When I was a girl we loved those gruesome fairy tales. My mother had a whole book of them.

    For something a little more recent (1904) try googleing “The Story of Little Kettle Head.”

    On the mother thing, when Sissy was little she would say, “lets play Snow White. (or Sleeping Beauty or what ever) I’ll be Snow White, you can be the witch.”

    There are only so many girl parts so I was always the witch. 🙂

  • Kinda Crazy how those old stories are so Wrong! And what about some of the nursery rhymes like Ring a Round the Rosey….

  • HAHA! I laughed my butt off at this post. I remember reading the Grimm fairy tales when I was in fifth grade. THe bloody feet Cinderella really stuck out to me too. My mom had no idea what as in there. I’m glad you were able to stage a wedding in Rapunzel and I hope you get some sleep tonight!

  • I’m a former literature major, so although i didn’t know the details on all of these stories, I knew they were harsh. and let’s not leave out the ominous lyrics to Rock-a-bye-baby.

  • Wow, I was unaware of the originals. I also steer away from the Disney movie. My problem goes beyond the mom dying though. My problem is God forbid I do die, is my daughter going to have a pre-disposed hatred towards her new “evil” stepmom.

  • Oh yeah, those original versions are something else!!!

    The doll was great. Don’t worry–the stories didn’t affect them at all. 🙂

  • My son, who lives in an estrogen filled world, loves these versions of the fairy tales.

  • My oldest is 4, and I’ve been discovering that classic children’s stories aren’t quite as sweet as I remembered them either. Did you know that the pied piper comes back and kidnaps all the children in the village when the parents refused to pay him for getting rid of the rats?!

  • You ladies all had seriously sheltered childhoods! I grew up before political correctness and Disneyfication of fairy tales and read all of the originals (in the days when public schools actually EDUCATED children.) 😉 And I made sure my children had access to real literature as soon as I could find it. (Wasn’t easy!) 😀

  • We have that same book!! Some of the stories are so much more beautiful but there is a bit too much gore for the little ones. If you have the copy that I have then you also see the most gorgeous illustrations — but the bleeding feet are fortunately not illustrated.

  • In the original “Hansel and Gretel” which I read to my students as part of a unit on classic fairy tales, the real mother is the one who encourages the father to leave the kids in the woods. I always say evil stepmother instead when I am reading it. That just doesn’t seem quite as bad.

  • You think those are bad? Stay away from the original Pinocchio — it’s gruesome and creepy. I used to work in a bookstore and more than once I dissuaded parents from buying it for their kids.

  • I think fairy tales might originally have been written for adults. Weird adults, if you ask me. Re: The Pied Piper. In the version I know, not only does he kidnap the kids…he leads them into a river where they all drown. Yeah, mass kid-acide. Real cute.
    Ever notice also that Shirley Temple rarely had a mother in any of her films? In fact, she rarely had a daddy!

  • I knew they were creepy, but I did not know the details! What made people take those stories and make them fairy tales?

    Have you seen the movie, The Brother’s Grimm? It tells some of the tales.

    Thanks for the laughs.

  • Try being a stepmother! That very term brings terror to people of all ages.

    Fairy tales in every culture are meant to teach morals. Children weren’t as sheltered as they are now, so I’d imagine those tales were equally as upsetting as our watered-down versions. What I like about the originals is that people don’t always live happily ever after. Sad, but true reality.

  • That Barbie is priceless. I am so glad her feet are already a size 6.