When Snow White, Rapunzel & Oz Meant Much More Than Fairy Tales
Video games may be the modern equivalent of fairy tales. But if child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim was right, those ancient stories about damsels in distress and their rescuing knights are far from having exhausted their appeal. The good old doc should know it. He survived the Nazis only to fall in disgrace for enhancing his resume and being nasty to his pupils. Alas, the man who taught us about warding off life’s demons, could not handle his own. He suffocated himself to death with a plastic bag wrapped around his head in 1990.
After such a florid intro, though, we’re switching gears to focus on some hardly known facts behind two classics of children’s literature, Rapunzel and Snow White, and a book written a century ago that became a breakthrough movie, the Wizard of Oz.
They all share an underlying common trait: the confusion and hardship typical of impoverished children going through puberty. While predating even the concept of childhood and adolescence, there’s never doubt about what demographics they were catering to.
Behind a veneer of an idealized world to which the young protagonists long to belong and conquer, and a patina of virtue and redemption righting all wrongs, deep down, the stories are suffused with intrigue and betrayal, brutal competition and carnage. TALES FROM THE DARK AGES
For all the high-def graphics and sensory numbness-inducing FX of video games, and all modern entertainment for that matter, they’re no match to the emotional intensity and masterly manipulation of deep-rooted fears, which are the currency of fairy tales.
All are about lonely children transitioning to adulthood, trapped by conspiring circumstances and on the verge of defeat until the very end, often when their rivals perish. Strife and miserable family bonds are never far from center stage, and neither is the threat of annihilation.
For Bettelheim, beyond their imagery, these tales are loved for offering kids happy outcomes, which they can come up with on their own. Behind the Dark Ages’ ambiance and archaic social settings, (more) __________ Read Also: * Warped Worlds * Remarkable Apparatus
A Brush of Fresh Hair or How Pubic Curls May Save Your Life
Few things resemble more our evolutionary pedigree than body hair. Culturally, having a ‘full head’ of it means being young, beautiful, healthy, even powerful. Until it departs on its own, we spent years combing it, cutting it, shaving it, dying it, and parting it with aplomb. It’s another story with hair growing elsewhere but on top of our head. A reminder of how fast we went from furry animal to naked ape, we’ve set strict social codes to dealing with ‘excess’ in certain parts of the body. We’ve only got contempt, though, for ear and nose strays.
The inconvenient truth about hair is that it’s easily matted with sexism, racial intolerance, and political and religious oppression. It can get greasy with prejudice, scorched dry with the dust of old traditions, and offensively malodorous, reeking of staled rites and bad blood.
In other cases, the way we look at hair or lack thereof reveals the huge gap between our general perception of what each gender is supposed to be about, and what evolution has determined was the best way to cope with changing climate and environmental conditions. We adapted and changed to survive, but we often still carry the phantom of an obsolete, long discarded psychological association. Chest hair, for example, long thought to be a symbol of manhood and testosterone dominance, has recently been found to actually be a deterrent for potential female mates. Scientists long knew that women’s preference for hairlessness may have been a way to avoid lice and other tiny mites that would enjoy the comfort of chest hair in unkempt males of yore (read, all males born some 10,000 years ago).
Even though that’s hopefully no longer the case (as hygiene habits have Continue reading →
When Snow White, Rapunzel & the Oz Mean Much More Than Fairy Tales
Cynics may say that video games are the modern equivalent of fairy tales, as movies and books about old-fashioned heroes are ever harder to become blockbusters these days. But if child psychologist, and Holocaust survival, Bruno Bettelheim’s research was correct, those ancient stories about damsels in distress and their rescuing knights are far from having exhausted their appeal. After such a florid intro, though, we’re switching gears to focus on some hardly known facts behind two classics of children’s literature, and a book written a hundred years ago that became a breakthrough movie. If there’s an underlying trait common to most fairy tales is that they seem to be rooted in the confusion and hardship typical of impoverished children going through puberty. If the classics of the genre predate even the concept of childhood and adolescence, since they’re mostly set in Medieval Europe, there’s never a doubt about what’s the demographics fairly tales appeal to. Despite their veneer of an idealized world to which the young protagonists long to belong to and often wind up conquering, the stories are not short of intrigue, betrayal, carnage and brutal competition. TALES FROM THE DARK AGES Video games, for all their high-definition graphics and sensory-numbness inducing special effects, are no match to the emotional Continue reading →