Jul 4, 2017

Discussion Challenge: Disney vs Fairy Tales

Now that I am back in good internet connection action, I hope to get back to these discussion posts! I had an idea for one literally the same day things crapped out on me internet wise! Lol. Typical! I had heard through an author that some readers were already bashing her latest title which is a fairy tale retelling, but this time, who we thought was the villain is telling us his version of events. And I love these kinds of books! The ones that challenge who the hero and who the villain is. Well apparently this other reader didn't like that the author was changing everything they loved about a perfectly good fairy tale and it got me thinking...are the confusing "fairy tale" with Disney? Don't get me wrong I love Disney! But they aren't not the actual fairy tale makers, they are in fact fairy tale RETELLERS!

Fairy Tales vs Disney

So this is what prompted my post idea. I think people forget to read their actual fairy tales before going into a retelling and their knowledge is based on what Disney taught them. Then again, maybe not. Like I said I heard about this comment secondhand, so I don't know what the rants would've been about. But I've read a lot of the original fairy tales. I mean come on Beauty marries her COUSIN!! Disney was right to change things there! And yes, way back when marrying your cousin was probably normal and just dandy. Now, it's a little different! Especially since I remember playing a lot with my cousins growing up. 

I feel like I always go back to the Grimm brothers for my fairy tale examples. They wrote a lot! And quite a few were Disney-ified. Cinderella, Snow White...the leading princesses! But have people really read them? They are not at all what Disney made them to be! Stepsisters cutting off parts of their foot and bleeding from the shoe whole Prince Charming is oblivious, Snow White's prince being so enamored with her corpse that he pleads for the dwarfs to give her to him and then her coffin gets dropped and the apple she choked to death on pops out of her throat. Though not Grimm, but still beloved fairy tales, we have Sleeping Beauty who was sleeping for 100 years before her Prince came along. And I think she just woke up, I can't recall if there was a kiss. The Little Mermaid didn't even get her prince. She was supposed to kill him so she could return to being a mermaid, but she didn't. 

Grimm wrote these fairy tales for adults to enjoy. They were not kid friendly. There's one that Disney never touched that involved a king who was going to marry his daughter after his wife passed because her beauty was the only one who matched his wife's! So yeah, Disney makes their changes so that these fairy tales can be enjoyed by children.

And then when our authors of today come along and write a fairy tale retelling I feel like there can be a lot of backlash from readers. And it sometimes comes down to an author changing everything they loved about the certain tale. But I always wonder, which version of the tale are you upset that the author changed? The fairy tale itself? Or the Disney-ified one? Because let's face it, Disney movies are another retelling! I mean that's why we get drawn to their fairy tale movies in the first place, because they remind us of other stories. Nowadays they might be making a few of their own! I mean they totally rewrote The Snow Queen! Though they initially were going to make Elsa a villain in the early drafts, just think...we almost didn't have "Let it Go!".

And I'm not saying readers aren't allowed to have their own opinions about why they might dislike a certain book. I'm just saying, let's make sure we're stating the right reasons for disliking a certain book. If you dislike a retelling of Peter Pan, say it's because it deviated so far from the Disney movie you loved as a child. Don't say fairy tale if you've never actually read the original fairy tale. 

Always remember that a generous portion of the Disney movies we, myself included, all love are retellings of fairy tales from long ago! I for one, don't mind some of the changes. Like the fact that Belle marries a prince and not her princely cousin!


  1. WONDERFUL post! I saw a thread in a bookish group that was similar to this. One reader just did not understand that there were stories before Disney, no matter how many examples of Grimm fairytales were shown.

    Personally, I'm a total sucker for retellings! I love to see how creative an author can be when taking a character and adding their own special flair.

  2. I'm guilty sometimes of going "hey, this retelling isn't what I'm used to" because Disney movies are what I think of when I think fairy tales. So I make a constant effort to remind myself that the Disney movies are retellings of a story written years ago.

    It's hard though. I had to do that a lot with The Flame in The Mist and Mulan. There are so many different versions of the tale of Mulan and the Disney version is just one. And that's the beauty of retellings! You can take the heart of a story but manipulate it to be whatever you want it to be. Disney has taken these tales of morality and made them into fun musicals for families. Other authors make the stories gritter or more violent. That's the fun!

  3. Gahhhh it aggravates me so much when I see reviewers complain about Peter Pan retellings and say that they didn't like how the author made Peter so dark or cruel or whatever. I want to shove the original book in their hands and tell them, "No, J.M Barrie made Peter dark and cruel, not this author. Just because you've only seen the Disney version, that doesn't change how the original was written, so stop blaming this author."

    Anyway, I always like to read the originals before I read a retelling, whether it's a fairytale or a classic or whatever. I would love if more authors would retell the originals rather than the Disney versions though :-/ Like you said, those are already retellings themselves.

    Also, didn't someone get eaten by goblins or something in the original Sleeping Beauty? I only vaguely remember that one since I read it a while ago.

    1. I agree about Peter Pan, and I also prefer reading the original tale or book if I have the time for it. If an author wanted to retell a Disney fairy tale, assuming there wasn't a copyright issue levied by Disney, I might be okay with it if they made it their own.

  4. I would take care with saying the Grimm Brothers wrote the fairy tales (maybe they did), but at face value, they claimed to collect tales from the region. On the subject of the original Snow White, I am more disturbed by the prince being enamored with a seven year old and the dwarves for selling her body than I am the prince simply being enamored with a corpse. But that's me.

    I am not sure that Disney's cleansing of a story necessarily makes it more digestible for children. I think children can deal with cut off toes and some other features not mentioned in this post, though caution needs to be taken. Walt Disney wanted to create American fairy tales, and he did that by teaching children that his movies were the "correct" versions. I think you are right that people should clarify that a book ruined what they loved of Disney movies, but I don't believe that all of Disney's revisions of fairy tales are wonderful.

  5. So true! We often think of the Disney versions of these fairy tales as the "originals" when that is far from true!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  6. I bought a book of Grimm tales so I could get the "real" story but have yet to read them. Saying that aren't they just written versions of tales told orally for years so is there ever a true version.


Comments are an award all on their own! So my blog is an award free one! Thanks for any consideration though!