Advice from a Cartoon Princess – Snow White

As some of you may recall, I started a recurring feature earlier this week wherein I respond to the Second City Network video series, “Advice from a Cartoon Princess.”  Previously, I responded to their “Beauty and the Beast” video, showing which of their criticisms were valid critiques of the original fairy tale and which were only relevant to the Disney film versions.  Today, I’ll be doing the same with their video about Snow White.

In this particular video, there are several criticisms which apply to the original story and several which fit in only with the Disney retelling.  Oddly, I also noticed a few that don’t seem to fit with either.

Criticisms that Don’t Fit with Either Disney OR the Original:

  • One of the video’s criticisms is that Snow White marries the prince rather than one of the dwarves, claiming that she ruled them out as romantic partners because of their small stature.  Honestly, this seems a little ridiculous.  I don’t believe that she was unattracted to the dwarves because they were short, but because they were a different species.  In fairy tales and fantasy, dwarves are not simply small humans but a different creature altogether.  A suggestion that Snow White should have married one of the dwarves is akin to saying that Eowyn from “Lord of the Rings” should have married Merry (one of the hobbits) instead of Faramir; frankly, it’s a little ridiculous.
  • The video also says that Snow “loves mirrors,” suggesting that she is vain.  This seems a little ridiculous because the princess never seems self-absorbed in either story.  The only vain character is the antagonist, Snow White’s evil stepmother.
  • The clip interprets the statement “fairest of them all” to mean “whitest of them all.”  Although the word “fair” can mean “pale,” this is really taking things out of context.  In the story, a different definition of the word is being used; “fair” is not meant to mean “white,” but “beautiful.”  This is an intentional misinterpretation rather than a legitimate criticism of the fairy tale’s message.

Criticisms that Only Apply to the Disney Version:

  • This video suggests that Snow White’s choice to let the wild animals help her with cleaning is not something to be encouraged.  After all, encounters with wild animals can pose various dangers to children.  Of course, the original story included none of Snow White’s animal friends, so this one is all on Disney.
  • Next, the clip criticizes the fact that all of the dwarves are given nicknames that describe their most obvious features, not unlike frat boys.  However, the dwarves in the original fairy tale were not given names at all.  In fact, no names were mentioned until the story was turned into a Broadway play in 1912.  They were renamed for the Walt Disney movie, so the dwarf names most people are familiar with (Dopey, Sneezy, Doc, Grumpy, Sleepy, Happy, and Bashful) are purely a Disney creation.
  • The video also criticizes the fact that Snow White interprets attractive older women as evil, but assumes ugly older women are trustworthy.  This is definitely only a problem with the Disney version.  In the original fairy tale, the evil queen makes three separate attempts on Snow’s life, disguising herself differently each time.  It is only when Disney eliminated the various disguises that this appeared to be a comparison involving levels of attractiveness and perceived trustworthiness among older women.

Criticisms that Apply to the Original Fairy Tale

  • In all versions of the story, Snow White lives platonically with seven men she met in a scary forest.  As the video points out, this is maybe a little creepy.  After all, Snow is a teenage runaway.
  • Similarly, the video clip criticizes the way Snow White wanders into a random house and goes to sleep in a stranger’s bed.  Clearly, she has never had a talk about stranger danger and seems weirdly okay with breaking and entering.
  • The Second City Network also points out the fact that the princess’ priorities seem to consist of cooking, cleaning, and men.  Admittedly, the dwarves in the original story agreed to let her stay with them in exchange for her doing their housework, but it is perhaps a little odd that she never seems to do anything else. Despite this, it seems like a weak criticism.
  • Next, the video suggests that the story is saying “you know you’ve made it as the prettiest person when everyone around you wants to kill you.”  Indeed, if people interpret the message this way, it is negative.  However, this is clearly not the intended moral of the story; Snow White’s goal was never to be the fairest of them all.  In fact, only one person in the story has that goal; the evil queen.  The more likely message here is “vanity and conceitedness are never attractive.”
  • Finally, the Snow White in the clip instructs kids not to eat fruit.  This was actually my favorite moment in the video.  I guess it would be possible for a young child to become suspicious of apples after hearing/watching this fairy tale!

Although Second City Network’s criticisms of “Beauty and the Beast” were almost exclusively geared toward the Disney version, their critique of negative messages in “Snow White” is divided fairly evenly.  In fact, more criticisms relate directly to the original than the retelling.  I guess my response to their “Little Mermaid” clip will have to be the tiebreaker!

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The Year of Snow White: 2012-2013

There’s quite a buzz on the web about not one or two, but three upcoming Snow White film projects. Here’s a quick scoop on all three, along with my initial responses to what we know so far.

“Snow White and the Huntsman” – Universal 2012

What we know: This story is going to center around the often overlooked huntsman character, rumored to  be played by Viggo Mortensen.  There’s also talk of Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen and Kristen Stewart as Snow herself.

My response: One thing I truly love about this film is the concept; I find it irresistible when retellings focus on characters that were largely ignored or vilified in the original stories.  I am also excited to see Viggo Mortensen’s name associated with the movie.  Whatever the role, I know he will do it justice.  I am, however, a little skeptical about Kristen Stewart as Snow White.  True, this film would place her in a supporting role, but I have yet to be convinced that she has more than one facial expression.  Everything else about the project sounds great, though, so I hope she proves me wrong.

“The Brothers Grimm: Snow White” – Relativity 2012

What we know: This version of Snow White is set to include Julia Roberts in the Evil Queen role.   It is also rumored to be the darkest and edgiest of the three upcoming films, with the seven dwarves depicted as thieves.

My response: Talk of a dark, edgy fairy tale retelling always brings a smile to my face.  I’m not particularly familiar with the director (Tarsem Singh) but a quick internet search assured me that he has a real knack for beautiful yet unnerving imagery (See photo below.), which is what I think every dark fairy tale needs.  I have no complaints about Julia Roberts.  In fact, I’m excited to see her tackle a darker role.  I am a little unclear on the title; is this supposed to be associated in some way with 2005’s “The Brothers Grimm“?  Either way, let’s hope this movie is just as awesome as it sounds.

Tarsem Singh’s “The Fall”

 

“Snow White and the Seven” – Disney 2013

What we know: In this version, the seven are not dwarves; they’re a band of traveling warriors from various cultures.  When Snow White (an English woman in China in the 1800s) meets them, they teach her their martial arts skills.  Natalie Portman is rumored to be involved, but this is nowhere near confirmed.

My response: This retelling sounds inventive and original, at least, but it sounds so different that it may not be recognizable.  Of course, if the talented Natalie Portman really is involved, it’s bound to be awesome.  Not to mention, the martial arts should at least be fun to watch.

Those are my thoughts on the films, but what do you think?  Take this poll and let me know which Snow White project you’re most looking forward to!

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