Tuesday, July 26, 2011

in defense of fairy tales


I've said it before, but, I love them. They are our modern mythology. Disney princesses are to us what Hera, Aphrodite, and Artemis were to the Greeks - though it's true the former could use a lesson in bad-assness and sensuality from the latter.* (Artemis was always my favorite as a child - the elusive huntress moving by moonlight through woods. Artemas was the last name of a Greek Orthodox priest who welcomed me after another Orthodox priest excommunicated me when I was 22, and I loved him for that name in addition to everything else.)

I'm creating a TV/sleeping area upstairs for the girls, and fairy tales seem to be the emerging theme. Not exlusively Disney, but definitely Brothers Grimm. Ella, Eden, and I watched Snow White there for their first time a few days ago. I laughed out loud when, while watching the animals cleaning scene, Ella burst out in delight, "This is my FAVORITE MOVIE!" Ah, my orderly girl. She is her grandmothers' granddaughter and not her mother's daughter.

What's so fascinating about fairy tales to me - and what ultimately makes them helpful - is that they actually don't cover up all of life's nastiness the way you subconsciously assume after walking past a Target aisle full of pink, purple, and the holy trinity of Disney women. They are dark. Deceipt, betrayal, things not being what they seem. You've got wicked jealous stepmothers trying to kill you. You've got a mob coming for your father who they've accused of being insane. You've got a toxin-breathing dragon that spurts green blood and has the human form of Female Satan (yes, Sleeping Beauty freaked the hell out of me when I was little, despite it being my favorite).

Nate sent me this last year, after one of my grown up freak-outs. I think he wanted to reassure me with a visual (which is how I am best reassured) that he is willing to fight through the brambles of life and my past and my protectors. Fairy tales are real life.



*and it's true that they are not inerrant and can have clunker ideas of their day thrown in, like any creation grounded in a particular moment of history does. Like this gem from Snow White: "...and away to his castle we'll go, to be married forever I know." We get our own castles now. Chikachickaaaaaa.