Disney Fairy Tales: Entertainment or Controlling Conspiracy?

The title of this article might be a bit of an exaggeration. And yet, some people truly believe that Disney (both the man and the company) have come to rule over fairy tales.

My question: Is that really a bad thing?

Recently, for at least the third time, I have read Jack Zipes’ Breaking the Disney Spell, in which he outlines that Disney and the company have put their mark on fairy tales, so much so that the literary tales have been forgotten and completely destroyed.

I admit that this is pretty valid. When you ask a child about fairy tales, they will most likely reference the Disney version of the tale. There is something sad about this, that the older versions of the tales have been forgotten to the point where Disney is the only reference point for children. But, as a product of Disney’s fairy tales, I must say, when you latch onto the older, non-Disney versions, you get a new appreciation of fairy tales.

But it must be understood: The literary versions (i.e. by Grimms, Perrault, etc.) of these tales are not the originals. They heard the stories from someone else, who heard it from someone else, etc. With each new telling, these stories changed, maybe a little, maybe a lot. So what was the difference with Disney?

In a way, absolutely nothing. Though he/it changed the tales with the movie representations, this is no different than the storytellers changing the tales with each new telling. However, I believe the real “problem” that has come about from Disney’s tellings is their overwhelming popularity, to the point where these are the only tales known by young children. Children have a right to know about other versions of the tales so they don’t think that other versions have “ruined” the Disney classic.

But I still can’t fault the Disney company. I believe that they have raised the fairy tale to an absurd level with  merchandising and an intense level of advertising. However, there is a reason for their popularity (the films, not the company necessarily):

The films are purely entertaining.

A story is told, and we are brought into the magic, feeling like we are the princes and princesses within, that we, too, can wish upon a star to make our dreams come true. They are fun to watch and appeal to our sense of escapism. Surely these films aren’t perfect, but that makes them perfect for discussion and argument.

These movies make us happy, lift our spirits, and give us magic and wonder. And isn’t that what fairy tales are really all about?


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ben Tibbetts
    Oct 15, 2013 @ 04:42:00

    Yes! For better or for worse, Disney is carrying on a tradition. There’s nothing wrong with preferring Grimm–that’s personal taste–but the popularity of these films is not a sufficient reason to hate the company that produces them.


  2. Trackback: Artistic License or Censorship? | Childhood WEDing

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