Faith Upon a Fairy Tale
Fairy tale dramas have dominated primetime lineups for the past couple seasons, with millions of adult viewers sprawled on the couch, remotes in hand, watching the latest episode of ABC's Once Upon a Time and Once Upon a Time Wonderland; NBC's Grimm and Dracula, FOX's Sleepy Hollow, and the CW's Beauty and the Beast and Arrow. We are smitten.
The swoon-worthy, sensitive men-of-action certainly have something to do with it. And imagining ourselves in the roles of these beautiful women of action—not the passive damsels in distress of the past—entices us as well. Who wouldn't want to don a rich velvet cape, grab a silver sword, and rescue Prince Charming? I wouldn't mind Alice's roundhouse kicks, but I doubt the high stakes drama, thwarted passion, and outstanding computer graphics tell the whole story.
I confess I've always adored fairy tales. I read them as a child, read them to my own kids, and even invented a few along the way. My son still talks of Filbert, the good-hearted dragon I sent into battle each bedtime against his nemesis Peroxio.
Yet, society may tempt us to deem the fairy tale genre as a childhood throwback or a guilty pleasure. After all, we're meant to outgrow the fantasy, just as we advise head-in-the-clouds dreamers that "life's no fairy tale."
To the contrary, I believe there's a profound sense of real-life truth lying within these fantasy stories. Throughout history, fairy tales have provided stable ground, a comforting picture of a world where morality matters. These stories give us glimpses of truth in a society that often distorts right and wrong.
We may adapt the plots, the characters, and the fantastical settings, but the core remains the same. There is good and evil in the world, hard choices need to be made, daily living requires courage, and there will always be consequences for the wrong actions.
The Grimm brothers understood this and first published Nursery and Household Tales in 1812, codifying and uniting German culture and oral tradition. And this desire for stability, community, and common ground is no less needed today than during Napoleon's sieges.
We ask ourselves, Will right prevail? Can dreams come true? Does true love exist outside of castles? These are large and looming questions, and simply because we don't chat about them over coffee doesn't mean they don't dwell in our heads and in our hearts. We yearn for Snow White's faith that good will triumph and Alice's conviction that true love lasts.
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