Saturday, July 27, 2013

Article: OUAT Creators Defend "Disneyfication" (& the Horowitz-Kitsis-fication) of Fairy Tales

This is an interesting report from The National. I've rarely heard OUAT creators, Horowitz and Kitsis, refer (even obliquely, like in this article) to NBC's Grimm since both shows premiered, let alone comparing the darker, more traditional side of fairy tales (or their compatibility with procedurals, urban fantasy and horror) with the Disney/ABC "dark" touch that people talk about OUAT showcasing. (The "dark" touch being taking Disney characters and giving them backstories, making their characters more gray than black-and-white good or evil.)

The article is is definitely worth reading as I think they share an important point of why people like Disney versions of tales, indeed, why people like "predictably happy" versions of fairy tales.

It also suggests that the "dark" in tales that some people are looking to explore (especially right now) is different to both the Brothers Grimm's nice-ified-for-their-time versions and current available, more explicit versions (eg how NBCs Grimm uses tales).

Excerpts fro The National article:
The malleability of fairy tales to adapt to their times has kept them as vibrant as pixie dust for centuries, so it comes as no surprise that Once Upon a Time is still swinging its magic wand like a Louisville Slugger bat... 
Shows such as Grimm, where mythology fuses with police procedural, demonstrate how readily the fairy tale can meld into a hybrid, while the youth fuelled CW network’s new foray into the genre, Beauty and the Beast, casts a female detective as the beauty. Cynics take note; all three shows have already been renewed for the 2013-2014 seasons. 
Whereas the origins of fairy tales are bathed in dark curses, cautionary tales, death, lost love and spilt blood — the “Disneyfication” of all of the above, with its de rigueur happy ending, has brought positive messages of hope, inner beauty, romance and self-empowerment to shine more warmly over the magical firmament in the 21st century. 
“These fairy tales always have an element of darkness and, for us, there’s a big distinction between darkness and unpleasantness,” (says) Adam Horowitz...“And we never want to go there. We’re never going to be a serial-killer show. We want to touch on the darkness and the scariness that are inherent in these stories. We also try to never lose sight of one of the guiding principles of this show, which is hope.” 
We’ve witnessed this through the second season as the Evil Queen/Regina (Lana Parrilla) – who ripped out the Huntsman’s chest and killed her own father in season one – now reveals hints of inner goodness and random acts of kindness as she fights to save Storybrooke from the doom of the encroaching forest.
(Emphasis in bold is mine.)

There is an implication in the article that shows like Grimm are unpleasantly dark and that they don't contain - or maintain - hope, but I don't think that's true. I think the hope in Grimm shines very brightly, perhaps because it's contrasted by the obvious dark.

However, different shows - and types of stories - appeal to different people. And that's as it should be. Would you rather see more true implications of what "ripping out someone's heart" would be (such as is made more explicit in the fan made image collage below, which, in this presentation, looks closer to something out of Hannibal that it does OUAT)? Or would you rather the implication that someone who regularly rips out people's heart "isn't necessarily all bad" when they "do an act of good"? (Which, when you apply that to real life is a little disturbing!) Although real people are shades of gray, which makes these OUAT fairy tale characters more relatable to many people than they have been in the past, when it comes to ripping out hearts, I don't think a judge and jury in our courts would be very lenient...

I know, I know. It's supposed to be a metaphor - or at least symbolic. But that's my point.

Because, you see, either preference is just one POV. Neither invalidates OUAT's way of telling stories. Or Grimm's. Some people need to hear the tales told that way in order to relate them to their lives.

I think we need both versions - or retellings - of tales. The only problem happens when one form of storytelling attempts to eclipse all else. Then people only have one option for exploring stories and issues and that's completely the opposite of what fairy tales are for.

So: I want both please. Or all. I want them all!


The article also discusses the melding/crossing over between fairy tale and fantasy worlds that OUAT has become known for and is gearing up to do bigtime in Season 3 as they head into Neverland.

They also speculate on how "merging mythologies" of Neverland and fairy tale character histories will develop... something which I am curious about too because it's become clear that whatever aspects OUAT melds together will forever change the way this generation (at least) will view those individual tales and characters forever.

You can read the whole article HERE.

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