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Why Fairy Tale Reboots are a Necessary Part of Society

Fairy tale reboots are so in right now.  Cinderella’s in the theatres, Once Upon a Time had a strong last season, and Maleficent rocked the box office. Versions of all these stories have already been made. So why are we rebooting them? Is it a cynical cash grab by studios? Well, yes, partially. But it’s also something more.
Fairy tales are a way to communicate shared values. As our values change, so to must our touchstones that convey them.

Magic Mirror by Greg GuilleminThe old versions of fairy tales just don’t work for people today. We don’t seem to find them entertaining, funny, inspiring, or relevant. Our culture has changed, and so our stories are changing as well.This is not the first time that we have changed fairy tales. Disney itself became rich rebooting the dark German peasant tales of the Brothers Grimm into something light and fun for consumerist America, then rehashed them again with a spate of direct-to-video sequels in the 1990s. Now, Disney, and others, are again changing fairy tale characters to make them more relevant to society today. The changes to fairy tales show us many changes in how mainstream society views both the media and the world.

Why Do Fairy Tales Matter?

Fairy tales, or similar folklore, appear in most world cultures. Often, when they were written, they were not believed to be fiction. For example, the Brothers Grimm published “Hansel and Gretel” in 1812, 66 years before the last real-life witchcraft trial in the United States was held in 1878. These fairy tales had real relevance to people who believed in witches, fairies, and other evil creatures. Now, few people believe, but fairy tales are still relevant. In fact, with the rise of fantasy literature, movies and TV shows, it’s clear that we are interested in magic almost as much as those ancestors who believed in it. Partially, this is because we still use fairy tales as what literary critics call “touchstones.” Touchstones are references that most people can understand, like the phrases “wicked stepmother” and “magic beans.” These touchstones carry a lot of meaning in a small package, and can be used for metaphors, morals, political speeches, and more. They are a way to communicate shared values and understandings. As our values change, how do we update our touchstones?

Iggy Azalea

Iggy Azalea is a Real Life Catcher in the Rye: Characterization and Cyberbullying on Twitter

 

Iggy Azalea has quit Twitter. Let’s focus on her last tweet and her reasoning. In her final tweets, Iggy Azalea describes the “hatred and pettiness” she finds online, calling the internet the “ugliest reflection of man kind there is.”

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As you can see, not even global fame and celebrity can protect Iggy from the ills of cyberbullying in today’s age.

 

Iggy feels as if she is being attacked and cyber-bullied based upon her appearance. These tweets constitute a narrative and Iggy is the main character in this story. What do these tweets reveal about her character? How is she feeling? What emotions does she bring out? Iggy’s experiences strike a similarity to the experiences of a troubled character in a classic novel named Holden Caulfield from the acclaimed book, Catcher in the Rye. Now, imagine if Holden Caulfield lived in the age of social media, would he have reacted the same way? Like Iggy, Holden is brutally honest throughout the novel. In the book, the audience learns that Holden has been kicked out of yet another school. Like Iggy, Holden gives evidence throughout the book that he is disliked and misunderstood by others.

 

Catcher in the Rye

 

Cyberbullying, even on social media platforms like Twitter, can lead to people feeling victimized, causing them to verbally lash out at others. As you can see, not even global fame and celebrity can protect Iggy from these ills in today’s age.  However, the Catcher in the Rye novel shows us that this is nothing new. Holden and Iggy both show us that a true test of one’s character is how we respond to the unprovoked negativity in the world and you are only a victim if you allow yourself to become one.

Hipster Disney Princesses thumbnail

Why Fairy Tale Reboots are a Necessary Part of Society

 

Fairy tale reboots are so in right now.  Cinderella’s in the theatres, Once Upon a Time had a strong last season, and Maleficent rocked the box office. Versions of all these stories have already been made. So why are we rebooting them? Is it a cynical cash grab by studios? Well, yes, partially. But it’s also something more.

Fairy tales are a way to communicate shared values. As our values change, so to must our touchstones that convey them.

disney pop art

Magic Mirror by Greg Guillemin
The old versions of fairy tales just don’t work for people today. We don’t seem to find them entertaining, funny, inspiring, or relevant. Our culture has changed, and so our stories are changing as well.

This is not the first time that we have changed fairy tales. Disney itself became rich rebooting the dark German peasant tales of the Brothers Grimm into something light and fun for consumerist America, then rehashed them again with a spate of direct-to-video sequels in the 1990s. Now, Disney, and others, are again changing fairy tale characters to make them more relevant to society today. The changes to fairy tales show us many changes in how mainstream society views both the media and the world.

Why Do Fairy Tales Matter?

Fairy tales, or similar folklore, appear in most world cultures. Often, when they were written, they were not believed to be fiction. For example, the Brothers Grimm published “Hansel and Gretel in 1812, 66 years before the last real-life witchcraft trial in the United States was held in 1878. These fairy tales had real relevance to people who believed in witches, fairies, and other evil creatures. Now, few people believe, but fairy tales are still relevant. In fact, with the rise of fantasy literature, movies and TV shows, it’s clear that we are interested in magic almost as much as those ancestors who believed in it. Partially, this is because we still use fairy tales as what literary critics call “touchstones.” Touchstones are references that most people can understand, like the phrases “wicked stepmother” and “magic beans.” These touchstones carry a lot of meaning in a small package, and can be used for metaphors, morals, political speeches, and more. They are a way to communicate shared values and understandings. As our values change, how do we update our touchstones?

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: How to Write a Public Domain Mashup

 

Reviewers are surprised that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies follows the plot of Jane Austen’s original novel so closely, but they shouldn’t be. The book of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is mostly made up of the original text. The author made a fortune by just adding a few paragraphs here and there to an existing book. This is the start of a new genre: classic book mashups.

Book remixes are possible because copyrights do not last forever. Copyrights are designed to increase the earnings of authors and their immediate descendents. Most expire between 50 and 90 years after the author’s death since it’s a little silly to think that Jane Austen’s great-great-great-great grandnephews deserve a cut of her book sales.

Once a copyright expires, the book enters public domain. Public domain works have no restrictions at all. They can be stolen, republished, edited, used in music, movies, or video game, or just zombified. The public domain includes millions of books ready to be butchered.

In this lesson, we’ll be doing the messing. Why stop with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? How about a romantic comedy, Moby Dick in Manhattan? Or a sci-fi Romeo and Juliet? There are many possibilities, but executing them is harder than it appears.

Just like mixing music, mashing up classic literature takes some real thought. The newly edited portions need to match up to the original text, in grammar, cadence, word choice, and structure. In this lesson, we do a deep dive into how classic literature and modern genre fiction work, so that we can mix the two together flawlessly.