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C06P38 – First Kiss

C06P38 – First Kiss published on 35 Comments on C06P38 – First Kiss

What? Every story has taught me that kissing a girl while they’re unconscious is TOTES ROMANTIC.

I love looking at fairy tales today (often ala Disney) and tracing them back to where they first began. Sleeping Beauty’s original incarnation as a Russian fairy tale is particularly horrifying with what happens while the princess is asleep, but it at least resembles(ish) the version we know today.

The one I find most interesting is probably the Princess and the Frog. In the modern version, she has to kiss him to make him a prince. In the original, the frog makes increasingly invasive demands, which the King forces the princess to obey, until the frog demands that she allow him to sleep with her in her bed. Finally reaching the breaking point, the princess grabs the frog and flings him against the wall in rage. Then, and only then, does he turn into a prince. Bit of a different message there, wouldn’t you say?

We’re hardly the only culture to do this. I remember going to an exhibit on ancient Rome at the local museum, and was surprised to see sanitized versions of Egyptian and Greek gods. I’d known that the Romans had incorporated other mythologies, but I hadn’t known how much they removed. Dionysus (Bacchus) was simply the jolly god of wine – not the madness-inducing slaughter machine that made people eat one another and rip each other limb from limb. Hephaestus (Vulcan) was the good-looking god of the forge – not the hideous, crippled mess of Grecian tales. Isis still had her rejuvenation associations, but they conveniently removed the undead husband missing his *ahem* special parts.

Have you ever researched a story and found it changed by history? What was the tale?

What do you think happens to a culture as its stories change? Are we better or worse off when a fairy tale loses its teeth?

35 Comments

Children visit this site. Moderate your language accordingly.

AGH AGH AGHHHH.

I love watching the fairy tales change throughout time– even reading different editions from the same years can be eye-opening. One of my loves is watching stories and the language that makes them change over time. I don’t like watching them lose their teeth, but it is a reflection of our increasingly safe and sanitized culture, I suppose. Everything reflects the culture from which it comes, and I’d love to be able to track the changes between cultures as a research project or something. Oh, for more time.

I don’t think we ultimately gain or lose much; each culture will tell its own tales in its own time.

We have our OWN horrifying tales, we just kind of take some of them for granted, and others we don’t see as children’s fare.

Shakespeare is almost uniformly raunchy and crude as hell; I was probably only allowed to read it as a high schooler on the hopes that I couldn’t translate the banter. (Annotated copies for the win, bitches! Why did they not expect me to read the footnotes?) It’s permeated our culture so much, though, that even children who’ve never seen a play can be expected to know the meaning of “Romeo”. Shakespeare’s stories, like any other classic, are told and retold infinitely, under the same name or under different ones, with the same endings or different ones.

We sanitize Shakespeare whenever we feel like it, but when we get the urge, we tell stories that hit the dark parts of our souls better than Shakespeare can from a distance of 500 years in the past. We make films like Dark Knight, a story plumbing the depths of man’s willingness to do harm to his fellow man; in 50 years, when terrorism is less of a hot-button issue, maybe it won’t have the same impact. We tell horror stories in an attempt to explore our fears, but in 50 years, most of those horror stories will look stupid; go read some Lovecraft or watch some “scary” black-and-white fare, and tell me that half the things they feared weren’t laughable.

And we tell stories that will someday horrify our descendents when they uncover the originals. No telling which parts they’ll find offensive; will it be (not so) subtle racism or sexism or speciesism? Ideas about distribution of wealth? Will it be assumptions about gender, about sexuality, about definitions of personhood? The concept of personal ownership, the extent to which we (dis)believe in the agency of individuals? Our understanding of heritability? A belief that violence is sometimes necessary – or an excessive willingness to negotiate when the stakes are too high for half measures? All of these are concepts that could ultimately swing in or out of style in the true long term. And all of them are represented somewhere in the past, and somewhere in the present. I can only assume that someone will be carrying them around in the future, too.

There is nothing new under the sun, and no idea ever truly dies. Those who are hungry for ideas will always find something to feed them when they seek it.

I love that you point out that we can never really know how the future will judge us. The things that we might consider “good” now might be considered horrific and immoral by a later culture. It’s really interesting to think of a society that could be a flip of our own, but have its own moral view-point that seems, from the inside, just.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

Now I want to look up the original versions of fairy tales.
I heard about a new three little pigs story where the wolf is a misunderstood good guy just looking to rent a house or something. What? It’s a story meant to warn kids about danger, not misunderstanding people. “Oh, the man who is giving me candy and telling me to come into his white van is probably a good guy. I don’t want to hurt his feelings.”
Kids with nightmares are better than dead kids.

Wow. That is actually really messed up. I can see where they’re going with that but…I’ll put it this way: My mom got me the book “The Bearnstian Bears Learn about Strangers” FOR A REASON.

I’m back! And now I see what devastation you’ve been wreaking in my absence, Robin! That last panel still has me shuddering.<>

Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola EstΓ©s (American poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst) is a terrific book that beautifully describes how many “fairy-tales” have changed.

If you haven’t read it, find it and read it. I think it’s right up your alley/ ;`)

here’s the Wiki page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarissa_Pinkola_Est%C3%A9s

I think I’m with Asterai: stories are constantly in flux. Gain or loss as a story changes is a relative thing.

That said, I think knowing the history of a story is important. That’s where the real value is, being able to compare past versions with the present.

There are three Russian fairy tales, which sound like a complete nonsense until You go back in history and understand that they are sanitized creation and heroic myths.

1) Ryaba-Hen. An old couple used to have a hen called Ryaba (“Specky”). Once the hen layed a golden egg. The old people tried to break it, but were not able. Then a mouse broke it with its tail. The old people cried in sorrow, and the hen said: “Don’t cry, I’ll lay another one, but simple, not golden”.

Absurdity everywhere, until we start comparing it with creation myths and find striking similarities (allegory of life and universe with an egg, an underground demon spoiling the creation etc.).

2) Kolobok (Rolly-Polly). An old man asks his wife to bake him a… doughnut from the rest of their flour. As the old woman puts the “kolobok” on the window to cool down, it jumps off and goes into a forest. He meets a hare, a wolf and a bear who say they are going to eat him, but avoids them, saying that he already got away from the old people. Then a fox asks him to sing a song, and do it on her nose to hear him better. As he starts singing, she eats him.

Absurdity, unless we start comparing it with heroic myths (wonderful birth of a hero from the main food source, monsters etc.)

3. Turnip. Once an old man planted a turnip, and it grew very-very big, so that he was not able to pull it out from the earth. He called his wife, couldn’t do it. Subsequently they call their granddaughter, dog, cat, and olny after a mouse helps them, they succeed. It’s already a sanitized version. Originally the mouse was not summoned. People and beasts postpone the work for tomorrow, and during the night the mouse eats the whole turnip.

A bit more sense in both versions (collaboration vs. procrastination), and looks too much like a creation myth with a Lebensbaum.

And yeah, I was in situations when what I supposed to be help ruined everything. Such a pain to see something similar in your comics, but that’s the truth of life.

What I find the most interesting is there are other messages you could glean from each of those stories.

Sustenance and simplicity has more value than riches.

Do not be distracted from your goal, lest misfortune befall you.

Sometimes the true solution is not brute force – if you cannot move the turnip from where it is, eat it instead.

The amazing thing about simple stories is that they can be looked at in so many different ways.

Nooooo!

Your kisses always make me go, “Why, God, why?” (I think this is worse than Beast kissing Brand, just because I love Mizhiro. Although that one was disturbing as all hell.) D:

I love pointing out to people that Zeus would often disguise himself as an animal, and then approach females for ‘seduction’, and if they refused him (in animal form), he would force them to lust after him and give in to him… Always shocks folks who love Greek mythology.

Little Red Riding Hood’s original version ends with Red Riding Hood being killed and eaten by the wolf. And there’s parts darker than that, but that’s a bit too dark for the comment section.

Most of Grimm’s Fairy Tales are MUCH harsher in their original versions.

If you’re interested in the meaning and uses of fairytales, and what the effect is of sanitizing them, I found Bruno Bettelheim’s book, “The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales” to be profound and helpful.

From the TVTropes page on Grimmification:

“Even now the modern version of Little Red Riding Hood is very different from the first recorded version of the nursery tale, Petit Chaperon Rouge (1697) which ends with both Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother being eaten. However, going even further back, folklorists have learned that witches were said to put on red caps and hoods before they went riding on their familiars to visit a magic circle deep in the woods and pay homage to the horned god, the Dark Woodsman. Knowing that Little Red Riding Hood was originally a tale about werewolves, it’s very possible to extrapolate an entirely different meaning. Remember, these old stories might in fact be Bloodier and Gorier than Grimmified retellings.”

Isn’t it neat when you go back and look at the origins, and find that it’s not what you expected? I like looking at some of those things, too…

BUt I also don’t like when people go overboard, and say that it’s not alright that things are changed for children and go to such extremes about NOT changing them that they end up changing them for the worse, or any kind of extremist behavior. A little change is okay. Heck, even a lot of change, like Disney does (though not as much as people remember it does…) is alright, too.

It’s interesting where people’s minds go with such familiar things.

If you’re interested in more of that article, BTW, here, have the link: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Grimmification

One thing I remember thinkingthe first time I read this page.

Of course DreamEater can cure Mystery’s Bane.

He eats dreams, after all.

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