Posts tagged ‘grimm’

June 4, 2012

Snow White x Snow White

The recent Snow White obsession is probably the strangest to hit Hollywood during my lifetime. I remember learning about one of the movies for the first time when its trailer played previously to the beginning of the picture I was going to actually watch, don´t remember which one right now: It was two or three months ago, I think. Sort of like a dream, I had this foggy memory of Julia Roberts playing the evil Queen and kept wondering why the f…hell they had a Chinese girl playing Snow White — I know Lilly Collins actually has big eyes, but for some reason that´s how I perceived her at that point.

Later on I downloaded some episodes of Top Chef of the most recent season available at the time and to my surprise, Charlize Theron was invited to be a guest judge in a challenge inspired by her new,  soon to be released blockbuster… Snow White. I was like… I couldn´t have confused Julia Roberts with Charlize Theron — they are vastly different human beings. It got worst when I also learned Charlize´s co-star was Kristen Stewart: I couldn´t possibly have mistaken her for a Chinese girl! Finally I figured out that there were actually two Snow White motion pictures being released at the same time, and that no Chinese person was involved in any of them — at least not in the main cast (however, while doing research to find images for this post, I learned that there was a third Snow White movie project — this one done by Disney — which was finally cancelled, quite recently in fact, after ten years in the oven, and THAT project included Chinese people, although not specifically Snow White, who was to be a British lady heading to Hong Kong in the 19th century for her father´s funeral and then I don´t know how the Chinese warriors would have entered the story, but apparently, they would, had the movie gone ahead).

Well, one thing that struck me as another bizarre coincidence was the fact that both cast directors made heavy bets on the spectator´s good will in accepting their respective Snow Whites as beauties greater than their evil stepmothers: Lilly Collins is a strange choice when it comes to thinking of the fairest young lady of the land — she´s just cute, you know, and her father is a cool musician — and to compare Charlize Theron to Kristen Stewart is just mean in my humble opinion. Well, maybe they just wanted us to focus on the beauty inside or something.

Having said that, it is somewhat expected that the story was updated in the sense of incorporating more girl power to it, more specifically: both young ladies are at some point trained to kick ass and end up leading armies that storm into the evil Queen´s castle and take over the throne in the name of the fair and generous princess, who is also the rightful heiress to the deceased king.

I guess it´s funny that Snow White — the most boring Grimm story EVER in my opinion — has suddenly gotten all that attention from the entertainment industry. I thought the Green Lantern was a venture unexpected enough, but this is truly a more meaningful surprise brought to us by Hollywood: it is almost as if the studios decided to challenge themselves by turning the girlier, sissier heroin there ever was into a warrior.

Mirror, Mirror, to my surprise, is the winner in the competition. Not because the distance between the beauties of Charlize and Kristen is too large to be bared, but because I just was not sold on the Lord of The Rings vibe — that sort of dark and beautiful land, with magical sanctuaries and surprises — nor the combination of Frodo and Bella that surrounds the Snow White that pairs with the Huntsman was very appealing to me. Finally, I also blame Charlize for not being able to convince me of her immense cruelty — she kind of did a “dark voice” that was a little too much in my opinion and reminded me of the House Bunny movie with Anna Faris — her character would repeat anything she needed to remember, like someone´s name, in a truly grave tone, in order to memorize it. Lilly Collins did the naive, charming and strong thing in a much more convincing fashion, appropriately limiting the drama, and Julia Roberts was a very great surprise with her almost drag-queen like villain.

So, which Snow White movie do you prefer (if any)? And are you upset you will not be catered anymore to a third one with a Chinese spin on it?

Charlize kicks Kristen´s ass onscreen…

 

…and on the red carpet too.

 

P.S.: I also hated the way both movies reconstructed the magic mirror part of the story. Why couldn´t they do with a simple mirror talking back to ya?

P.P.S.: Chris Hemsworth should participate in all movies there are. I mean, seriously.

May 3, 2012

Too much feminism for our times

What modern mother hasn’t cringed at the pink and passive fairy tale princesses served up to her impressionable girl? The Disney versions of Snow White and Cinderella, Belle and Rapunzel are heroines of such vapid foolishness one wonders how they survived into the 21st century. The answer is that they are rooted in a tenacious and remarkably unaltered cultural tradition, the fairy tales first published two centuries ago by the Brothers Grimm.

These are the first lines in a post published by The Economist´s literary an cultural blog, Prospero, titled Fairy tales: The Anti-Grimm. This is kind of old news (it is a month old already) but well, a month ago I hadn´t yet started blogging. OK, back to the quote, I am no mother yet, but I find myself a fairly modern woman I have not yet cringed at Snow White or Cinderella.

The news are interesting: “the discovery of a huge new trove of unedited German fairy tales”, collected by a certain Herr Franz Xaver von Schönwerth, containing stories about fragile men as allegedly idiotic as Grimm´s heroins supposedly are.

This take on feminism is not of my liking. The radical views of those particular depictions of femininity as gender-selective moral bullshit sounds as simplistic as affirming missiles are designed in the shape of dicks – and therefore war should be reduced to a basic matter of determining who has the largest penis. I agree with the author as he affirms that “far from being transcendent examples of universal values, as Bruno Bettelheim argued, these tales were edited and fixed at a specific historical moment.” That is precisely the point: the Grimms and their tales are products  of their time, and that should be duly noted, and not necessarily diminish their work in importance or greatness. Values are contingent agreements on ideal moral conducts. They are a collection of norms that legitimize acts in a political society and they emanate from intersubjective understandings regarding the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Grimm´s depictions of femininity are evidently old-fashioned, but not necessarily harmful to young girls. Their heroines are as romantic as the late 19th century required; most of the time, they are perfect in their disturbing beauty and graceful hearts, and it is due to their generosity that they fall into the perils of which they are later rescued by the princes. They are not stupid. They are innocent and kind. And although they do display fragility, they are not cowards. They fall victim of their kindness, go through harsh and challenging probation and stay true to their hearts — and yes, at the end, reward comes in the form of a rescuing prince. A man.

This reward is not just simply a man — the reward is love, love that is conquered by their gentle souls that remain unscathed no matter how terrible and unjust the situation that falls upon them. I cannot agree this is a bad value to share with my future siblings.

Having said that, it is just as interesting to see that as early as in the 19th century, boys were also being rescued by girls as the tales passed on through oral accounts. Yes, that does suggest a striking asymmetry between the values of the cultured German bourgeois and the people with their “uncooked” stories, confirming that the romantic depictions of the ideal feminine as fragile and innocent and the ideal masculine as strong and honored were rather confined to aristocratical or more generally elitist environments.

I believe modern times have not in fact called for a very different definition of feminine and masculine, but of how men and women should relate to masculinity and femininity. A key aspect of educating the children to come is to free them from having to fully embrace a gender and fully reject the other, nor in themselves and even least so in everyone else. This may perfectly include watching Cinderella — it is a beautiful story in my opinion, and it does not incite murder or anything I find particularly hideous — you just should expose your child to different other heroines and heroes too, and never point any of them as the right one.

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