Can we re-write our stories? Are writers reinventing what it means to be a princess?

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I’m sure it’s been noticed that I’ve delved into the comic world a bit lately. It’s been interesting to see some characters I wasn’t familiar with along with Marvel’s recent efforts in diversifying it’s superheroes. While checking out these comics and graphic novels, I’ve also come across a series called Fables, which operates along the same thread as Once Upon a Time. What if our favorite fairy tales characters were here and living among us?

Of course, the show and the comic series come from two different sets of people, so they are completely different except in their core characters. The players are the same, the games are as different from each other as they are from the original. In both instances, though, the women are brought into this world and empowered in a way that makes them all but unrecognizable from their original forms. Snow White appears at the center of both, at least in the beginning of both. Ironically, I also watched Mirror Mirror on the morning that I first read Fables and that too has a new style to Snow White. She isn’t even tricked or poisoned in this one and the prince is the butt of most jokes here. Why so much focus on Snow White?

My theory is that she was the most vulnerable of all the princesses that have been Disneyfied and therefore the one most in need of revamping. Perhaps there were just a lot of people who grew up since Disney made it’s first princess movie who have thought she could be so much more and have endeavored to make her so. Fables also revamps Cinderella in a great way, but my favorite of the changing world of princess stories is Once Upon a Time’s Evil Queen. She is magnificent in every way from the writing of her backstory, to the flawless way the actress plays her. She is powerful and vulnerable at the same time, which is hard to accomplish and stunning to watch.

While writing for the express purpose of raising awareness, as I do, doesn’t qualify as action for the purposes of this month’s theme, I wanted to give credit to other writers. There is a push in the entertainment industry, as I mentioned when spotlighting Geena Davis, toward better characters that are whole people. Men are more than brave, women are more than vulnerable. The perception is that most people, if not all, have both of these characteristics at different points, why should they only have one or the other per story? These writers aren’t just writing great stories for this generation and those to come, but they are re-writing the old stories. They envision and pass on to the rest of us that, perhaps, the world isn’t what we thought it was. Perhaps the women and men we know as weak or strong shouldn’t be taken for granted. We shouldn’t assume to know them. They could be entirely different.

This train of thought brought me to two places. One is that anyone who has moved away and then visited their parents should already know that it is a true concept that people are often not who we first think they are. People are usually far more complicated than we give them credit for and it’s always interesting to see them in new ways and with unexpected conflicts. The other place I went to was that if we are re-writing these stories in such an acceptable way right now, how many times has this been done? I know that many of us will stick to kid appropriate versions of these stories, but many of them are more than they seem. I’d love to say I’ve read them all but that wouldn’t be true. I’d like to get around to it. Disney reinvented their princesses for the time they created their movies in and apparently will continue to do so, but how many others have done this over the years? How many more complicated and interesting versions of these characters could there be?

I guess we’ll never know, but it’s fun to contemplate. It’s also a lot of fun to read these new revamps of old favorites. They are reinventing what it means to be a princess in a world obsessed with both princesses and the evolving concept of what a woman’s “place” or ability is. This action will hopefully help this generation of girls and boys to realize that there are all kinds of places for all kinds of women and that being a princess or a girl is not synonymous with weak or in need of saving. They just may be reinventing the stereotype right under our noses. We shall see.


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