Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Enduring Importance of Fairytales


The Enduring Importance of Fairytales

 

“Fairytales do not tell children the dragons exist.

Children already know that dragons exist.

Fairytales tell children the dragons can be killed."

~ G. K. Chesterton~



For years I’ve heard people complain about Disney doing fairytales. They want something “different”. I agree with G. K. Chesterton! Children and adults need fairytales to show them the evil of life can be defeated. They also need fairytales to tell them that things can and will get better. Does that mean only the old classic fairytales are allowed or good? Heaven forbid!! I believe as long as imagination is still alive new fairytales can and will be written with a unique and modern twist.

What is a fairytale? A fairytale is a story that teaches a lesson to the young or not so young listener. These can be as simple a lesson as, ‘Don’t wonder off and trust strangers.’ Hansel & Gretel/Red Riding Hood. It can be as complicated as Cinderella with its multiple lessons. ‘Keep dreaming, always do your best, stay kind and for the evil sisters from the original Grimm’s Fairytales, ‘Don’t be so focused on yourself you don’t see the beauty of others and maim yourself reaching for goals you have not earned by good behavior and/or hard work.’ The sisters cut off their toes and heals to try to fit Cinderella’s shoe.

For generations mothers, grannies and aunties would gather the little ones around and tell these tales to educate their children about the dangers of the world. These tales do better at conveying the warning than just saying, “Don’t wonder off. Don’t talk to strangers. Be kind. Don’t lose faith and believe tomorrow will be better. Don’t destroy yourself reaching for things you deserve”

We still need these stories today. We need to them to teach our children that the dragons of today can be killed. Peace can be found and understanding can grow. They need to be wary of strangers you come into our home “unseen” and seem nice but are truly monsters. (think internet). Don’t follow the crowds and do what your pears do. (stay out of gangs).

Here are some of the modern fairytales that have been told in the last few years by Disney and Pixar.

Monsters Inc.: The monsters are hiding in the closet but they are as afraid of you as you are of them. If you stand up to them they will run. This goes along with the Bible verse says, “stand up to satan and he will run.” This is just as true of evil people as well.

The Incredibles: This movie encourages family unity and to strive to do the best you can. Accept each other for who you are. Don’t be afraid of being different. Forgive when needed. Don’t be so focused on the past you miss what is going on now losing out on joy.

Finding Nemo: This movie shows a child how their stubbornness lead danger. It also shows parents how underestimating their child’s ability and coddling them can lead to childish rebellion putting their child in danger.

Meet the Robinson’s: It teaches ‘keep moving forward’. The past is not as important as the future. Learn from the past but look to the future.

Brave: The relationship between Merida and her mother teach two lessons. You can change your fate by changing yourself and believing in yourself as well as those around you. Also try to see things from the other person’s viewpoint.

I enjoy watching me watching Disney/Pixar movies because they spur my imagination, encourage my heart and teach or remind me of life lessons. When I’m sad they lift me up. When I need a reminder to trust myself and those around me many of the movies nudge me that way.

So when you put your child/grandchild/niece/nephew to sleep tonight what fairytale will you tell them? What dreams will you spur in their hearts and minds? What lesson will it teach them? Will the fairytale be one of your own written just for them or a classic?

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