LIT 4334: The Golden Age of Children's Literature

Fairy Tales for Twenty Somethings

on January 17, 2013 1:57am

Fairytalesfor20somethings.tumblr.com is a blog which takes fairy tales and modernizes them for the 21st Century.  The author updates both the characters and the problems for the “Disney Generation;” that is, those who grew up in the 1980’s and 90’s watching the approximately twenty animated films released by Disney during that period. (which was when the highest concentration of animated films came out, as well as when they were the most popular). In “Fairy Tales for 20 Somethings” technology replaces magical assistance in fairy tales.

The blog plays on the common fears and anxieties of ‘twenty-something’ adults to create stories about fairy tale heroes in the modern age in a similar manner to the universal fears found in traditional tales.

In this post,the author places Cinderella in the modern age, even saying that she has a Facebook. The author relates Cinderella to the reader by saying “sometimes she just had to write a Facebook status about how shitty her day was.”  This turns Cinderella into a twenty-something everyman—a figure instantly relatable to an audience member. This also makes the audience member relatable to Cinderella, fairy godmother, prince(ss), castle and all.  This idea of “I am just like a character in a fairy tale” is prevalent throughout the entire blog, but the blog expresses that by showing fairy tale characters attempting to deal with their problems without the aid of any magical assistance.  The idea that even fairy tale characters have the same or similar problems that we ourselves have seems to make our struggles less personal and more universal.

In this post, the iPhone feature “Siri” becomes a fairy godmother of sorts and gives Beauty advice on how to introduce Beast to her family. In this blog, technology replaces magical assistance as the third party which helps the protagonist accomplish dreams, or at least feel better.  The replacement of the magical figure with everyday technology shows that in the same way that the fairy tale figures have the same problems what we do, they also have the same resources for dealing with those problems, and reinforces the concept that they are relatable to the audience member, and makes the struggles less personal and more universal.

In the same way that the tales themselves have been modernized, the medium through which they are being conveyed has been modernized as well.  Throughout history, fairy tales were passed down through the oral tradition.  In the modern day, however, the closest thing that we have to the oral tradition is blogging—with the advent of the internet, people began writing and telling stories, and most of these people wrote the same way that they spoke. The oral tradition, then, lives on via the internet, even if the light of the campfire has been replaced by the light of the computer monitor.

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One response to “Fairy Tales for Twenty Somethings

  1. ahaleyxxx says:

    I clicked through to the blog, and I really like it! Scrolling through the archives, it seems that the author, Tim Manley, began the blog using illustrations from other sources, but began doing his own drawings later. The earliest posts use illustrations from lesser known modern sources or artists, Disney screencaps, but most of the posts use famous classical illustrations of the tales, like Gustav Dore’s ‘Little Red Riding Hood’.

    http://fairytalesfor20somethings.tumblr.com/post/30420753682/little-red-riding-hood-was-getting-hit-on-by-some

    I think Gustav Dore’s style may have influenced Manley when he went about doing his own drawings. All of the original sketches are black and white, and use line shading and hatching to create shadows and fill space. Dore worked mostly in woodcuts, and as a result, his illustrations are black and white with visible, easily discernible lines used to create depth in light and space. Manley does, however, use a hip cartoony style rather than any attempts at romanticism or echoing the Disney movies. I think that the blog’s shift toward original illustrations was a smart choice: the captions now seem like clever retellings rather than cheap jokes. Manley’s captions are often racy, and a racy caption accompanying a two hundred year old painting of a fairy tale felt like it was playing for a shock joke, exploiting the audience’s nostalgia for childhood innocence. Using an illustration style that is uniquely his allows Manley to manipulate the tale, or the entire tale type. By providing a new illustration, the captions ask us to consider a new retelling of a fairy tale character, rather than reconsider our own personal childhood memories of the tales.

    Consider the Little Red Riding Hood posts, linked above and here.

    http://fairytalesfor20somethings.tumblr.com/post/36629855367/little-red-riding-hood-finally-found-a-guy-who

    The joke kind of flops with the Dore illustration; the childlike portrayal of Little Red Riding Hood is unlikely to act the way the caption describes. The captions of the two posts are similar, but the post with the original illustration works much better: a spunky, sexually liberated LRRH smoking a cigarette, looking annoyed, and probably carrying a pistol in her basket, as Roald Dahl suggests.

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