Friday, August 7, 2015

"Once Upon A Time"'s Dark Swan Season Teaser

Before I get into a discussion which, I promise, is not spoilery, nor is it "down" on OUAT, take a look at the promo.
I like the echo of the twisted thorns that surrounded both Snow White and the Evil Queen in the promos for the first season. Those twisted black branches always felt like an incarnation of the curse to me. Now Emma is in the middle of twisted black, er, ribbons? Slime? Dark matter?? Whatever, the concept echoes the first season, and from the extended Snow White monologue promo for season 5, (which you can see HERE) which implores Emma to remember who she is, right from an actual "Once upon a time..." narrated beginning, complete with harking back to season one imagery and more, it may even be solidifying the mythology and original themes somewhat. That would be a good thing.

Though a Light Swan/Dark Swan concept isn't new to fairy tale folk (or ballet folk.. or people who watched critically acclaimed films of the past few years.. ahem) it may seem a very different idea for many and I've decided to stop griping about the regurgitation of ideas and just let them be discovered by a whole new generation of society/folk.

I have to admit, sometimes things that feel, to me, to be "done to death", really are new ideas to younger people. This generation didn't/isn't grow/ing up with every little girl being sent to ballet and knowing Swan Lake, just like they're not a generation that got beautifully illustrated fairy tale collections as a standard part of their standard childhood library. From a story perspective, it's incredibly sad, but it also provides an opportunity to revisit tales and to do it in a different, more contemporarily reflective way, than they might have, had the tales been passed on in "full form". (It also means, for storytellers and anyone working with tales, that when you see pop culture and general society sucking up this stuff so greedily, that there's an awesome opportunity for using your creativity and craft to bing stories back.)

Aside: I have a theory that this 'tale vacuum' that a large section of generation X grew up in, helped provide the  opportunity to successfully publish Schoenworth's collection, contributed to the intense popularity of Willingham's Fables, and, currently, supports the Disney live-action retread of classic films. It likely also contributes to keeping OUAT alive, despite it's many shortcomings. People are thirsty for traditional tales and when presented with them - especially if they believe them to be "new" or at least "fresh twists" (eg Tale of Tales film or Schoenworth's collection - tales from both of which have really been around for hundreds of years, just in relative obscurity to Grimms and Andersen's)- will lap them up and ask for "more!")

Above: Up on the left, the only time I have seen this poster is in a search so I suspect an excellent fan made job (and if it is it truly is excellent!). I particularly like the swan neck being the hook. Further down on the right is a fan made image calling back the idea of the thorns and the curse surrounding Emma, as well as the Dark One being able to be 'summoned' by whomever holds the dagger.
But back to OUAT's coming Dark Swan: One thing OUAT does well, is provide ample fodder in the way of visuals, one-liner summaries and fairy tale concepts that fans then take and make their own in the form of memes, fan art, cosplays, fan fiction and so much more (see image above for an example). The visuals (via screencaps and more) are easy to work with because they're fairly typical in their presentation so, while lack of originality in framing and filming might seem annoying at times, it gives fans tons of opportunities to run with their personal ideas and make new forms of expression (especially with all the awesome free graphics and filter programs available on the web for free these days. Anyone with a solid idea and some creativity can produce some really gorgeous and interesting images to share, express feelings or to tell the story - or stories - their way, as they see them.)

Though it's been a while since I added to it properly to cover the series, I have a board on Pinterest of interesting fan art inspired by Once Upon A Time HERE and it's worth a look. Why? Because this is people retelling the stories - and fairy tales! -, in their own way, with their own creativity, putting their own spin on the tropes and spreading those stories through popular culture, with the undeniable thumbprint of the present embedded as well.

This coming season promises MANY fan made stories circulating the internet via images, memes and heart-felt sentiments. I'm actually looking forward to seeing what the fans focus on, and what tales - and forms - become popular as a result.


  1. Very good points here. I agree it's important to remember that what may seem cliche to us is often new to those who don't actively seek out fairy tale retellings. I've been guilty of complaining about the lack of new concepts, but I've also been on the other end where people accuse the things I like of being old and tired. What we perceive to be cliches depends on what entertainment we're drawn to!