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Author Topic: Scary old fairy tales  (Read 9799 times)
Ed
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« on: October 19, 2009, 06:40:22 PM »

I was listening to the radio at lunch time today, and the topic of conversation revolved around fairy tales and reading bedtime stories to kids. They were talking about how potentially disturbing some of these stories are. Such as Little Red Riding Hood - first Granny gets eaten by the wolf, then Riding Hood. Though, in some adaptations a huntsman comes along, guts the wolf and out pops Little Red Riding Hood, unscathed - not mauled to pieces and partially digested by stomach acid.

My gran gave me a load of bedtime story books, years ago, to read to my kids when they were small, but I was horrified by the bloodthirsty tales and illustrations of children being chased by madmen hacking at them with big scissors and the like, so they never saw the light of day. My gran said she didn't see the problem with them - she read them to me when I was little, and I turned out alright, didn't I? Cheesy Jeysus - no wonder I had so many nightmares when I was a kid.

Anyway, back to the radio chat. The old witch cut off Rapunzel's hair, held onto it while the prince climbed up, then threw him into the briars, which blinded him. Nice. But one of the guests said what these tales do is allow the child to experience danger, without actually being in harm's way. They teach kids how to overcome problems. Then the presenter said about when he tried to make up stories for his kids. They would say all the things he had to include, such as a goldfish, a goat and a butterfly, then he would try to make up a story for them. The trouble with that, he said, was the endings were never any good.

The resident expert broke it down for him. How to make his narration engaging - distinct characters, like witches, princes, soldiers. Good voices, accents, timing, rhythm. But most importantly - there has to be jeopardy - something at stake, some risk, some dire consequence if things don't work out. Some problem that must be overcome.

Sounds a lot like a recipe for a good horror story, doesn't it?
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« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2009, 06:48:03 PM »

If only those fairy tales could continue without being corrupted/made safe - http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/10/19/humpty_dumpty/

Unbelievable.
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« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2009, 06:51:25 PM »

I think that must have been what they started off discussing. I didn't catch the beginning. Unreal, isn't it? Why does everything have to get sanitised
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« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2009, 06:56:10 PM »

The only thing I can think of is that the currrent ruling mindset believes us individuals as not being capable to cope with the realities of the real or fictional worlds we may come across. They've got to protect us because we're unable to do it for ourselves.  bangh
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« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2009, 11:58:17 PM »

I think it is the sanitization and subsequent lack-there-of, that is causing a good deal of the trouble with today's children. The stories today's children hear very early are all sweetness and light, without the gory innards to the story that get the moral across. Then, the moment they hit school age, the tv goes on, uncensored, and they get walloped with all the adult messages and none of the foundation to get them through it. Much of mainstream tv has little to do with anything vaguely resembling morals, obviously.
This happens in children's media as well; you can't put adult humor in a child's film without changing the impact. Not even juvenile adult humor.
The thing that is so wonderful about old fairy tales, told properly, is that they do give one a useful view of the world, or at least a warning about it.
That's what sets true childrens lit. out from it's peers. Every child should read c.s lewis, and roald dahl, as well as the old tales.
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« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2009, 03:29:36 AM »

Unbelievable. I adored Grimm's fairy tales as a small child, with their violence and terrifying monsters and everything. The danger was the key. Absolutely lapped it all up. On the other hand, I detested Hans Andersen's tales with their sugary sweetness and no proper monsters.

Even the smallest child knows that if you drop an egg it smashes, and nothing's going to put it back together again. If you change that ending, you remove the internal logic of Humpty Dumpty and make a nonsense of the tale. Fairy tales MUST have internal logic.

It's like those parents who disinfect every surface their child comes into contact with. Result? No immunity to speak of. No resistance built up.

Disinfecting stories for small children has the same effect. No resistance to real danger when it rears its ugly head, as it inevitably will.
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« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2009, 05:45:07 AM »

It's nuts, this 'sanitising' of nursery rhymes and fairy tales.  My parents bought me a Brothers Grimm book (it's MASSIVE) when I was about 6 or 7, and I loved it.  I loved the macabre nature of the stories, as I'm sure many kids do.  They see it as fun, rather than horror (or at least I did).  Obviously, some kids might get a bit freaked out but then it's a case of whether the parents think their kid's too young for such things.

I totally agree with Rook saying Roald Dahl should be read by kids - I think he created an excellent mix of sinister and fun for kids to enjoy (I *still* find The Magic Finger somewhat disturbing)  grin
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« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2009, 01:05:50 PM »

.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2011, 08:16:40 PM by Woody » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2009, 01:22:37 PM »

If they think Grims bad what about Johnathan Swift?

Ridiculous... bangh

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« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2010, 04:51:40 AM »

Unbelievable. I adored Grimm's fairy tales as a small child, with their violence and terrifying monsters and everything. The danger was the key. Absolutely lapped it all up. On the other hand, I detested Hans Andersen's tales with their sugary sweetness and no proper monsters.

Even the smallest child knows that if you drop an egg it smashes, and nothing's going to put it back together again. If you change that ending, you remove the internal logic of Humpty Dumpty and make a nonsense of the tale. Fairy tales MUST have internal logic.

It's like those parents who disinfect every surface their child comes into contact with. Result? No immunity to speak of. No resistance built up.

Disinfecting stories for small children has the same effect. No resistance to real danger when it rears its ugly head, as it inevitably will.

Spot on. I loved Grimm's fairy tales - unadulterated violence and horror from beginning to end. Did I turn out bad ? - well...yes...but  I wouldn't swap it and I absolutely hate this revisionist attitude. It's like contempt for the past. When you start rewriting the past you lose the value of the present.
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