This particular blog is not about a book I have recently read, per se, but instead about an article I read online today. Some stories, fairy tales in particular, are such important parts of our lives, and this particular article got me thinkin’…
NPR recently shared some opinions about why “Snow White” is so popular right now. I remember watching the Disney version as a little girl and – though I loved it – not really understanding why the evil queen hated that sweet little girl. Later, when I read the Grimm version, the final line has always stayed with me: “Then they put a pair of iron shoes into burning coals. They were brought forth with tongs and placed before her. She was forced to step into the red-hot shoes and dance until she fell down dead…” Eek! Payback! There is the message that was missing from the Disney version! (A live-action version of this tale scared me a bit in the late 80s… ) The message of this story when written down so many years ago, was that vanity will only harm us in the end. Those who are beautiful and who do not hate those more beautiful will thrive in society (ahem… become a queen?)…. and those who are vain and evil will not.
As of late, I love watching the ABC show “Once Upon a Time” – a modern take on all of Grimm’s fairy tales (and some other stories – “Alice” for one) all mushed together. In this show, Snow White’s evil doing is actually explained. As a little girl she inadvertently helps the Evil Queen’s mother murder the Evil Queen’s love. The Evil Queen’s mother tricks the young girl into telling her lover’s name.
After reading NPR’s take on this, I keep wondering, have we finally settled on a reason for Snow to be so hated by her step-mother? Could it finally be that we’ve decided that a hatred for someone because she is beautiful is not sufficient, and perhaps – albeit she is evil – the Evil Queen might need to have a reason to want to tear out a little girl’s heart, her stepdaughter’s heart? In our world of constant attention – I am thinking of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube… – perhaps we are so constantly reminded that there is someone better looking, better talented, better smart, better, better, better… that the type of vanity first mentioned in the written versions of this tale no longer have so much meaning. I am not sure the author of this article, Neda Ulaby, or the producers of Mirror Mirror, the new movie referred to within, quite understand our modern need for an Evil Queen with more depth. I will not likely see this version, and will instead wait for “Snow White and the Huntsman” due out later this year. In this rendition, the Huntsman trains Snow to become a great warrior. Look out Evil Queen!
You can read the NPR article here: