Once Upon A Time….
These magical words first written by the Grimm Brothers bring visions of colorful castles, beautiful princesses and handsome prince charmings living happily ever after. The whimsical tales of Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, and many more became the basis of today’s child friendly fairy tales and g-rated movies.
Jacob and Wilhell Grimm, wrote over 200 folk fables from 1812 to 1857. Both were professors at the University of Göttingen, Germany. From their writings it does not appear they had a love of children or family.
In the Grimm version, Snow White was killed on her wedding day by the Evil Queen when she stepped on the Queen’s poisonous shoes. (Is there is a metaphor? Manolo Blahnik’s kill, not lives, but checking accounts?) Was Red Writing Hood written as a cautionary tale for little girls to stay away from grandma’s house? Or does the tale show how some men prey on young girls? The Frog Prince did not get his happy ending when the Princess splatted him against a wall. (I guess smooching didn’t fix the green) Rapunzel became preggers after letting down her hair one two many times.
Walt Disney, and somewhere along the way, an editor, turned the dark tones of the original stories into a billion dollar vision that included cute mice and happily ever after. I guess Walt figured we couldn’t handle the truth.
Fairy Tales evolved into crime novels, one of the first by Edgar Allen Poe in the 1840’s soon followed by Arthur Conon Doyle’s, Sherlock Holmes. Both followed the darkness of evil that lives in some people’s hearts.
In the 1930’s pulp writing turned into short stories illustrated with pictures. Today, we love comic books and collect stories of super men or women who fight evil. A multi-billion dollar movie business is based on these heroes in tights who save our world against megabaddies. The villains are a metaphor for the personality-altering power money and attention provides.
Have you ever thought why we are attracted to these stories?
Is it because we need to believe that as a species we could not instigate unthinkable harm to one another? Are movies like The Avengers or Batman or Spiderman, and the happily-ever-after versions of the Grimm’s fairy tales a type of Prozac to veer us away from the Human monsters who share our world?
The next time you hear the iconic phrase, once upon a time, think about where it came from.