The culture of wokeness continues with Academy Award winning actress Natalie Portman rewriting a trio of fairy tales after she decided that they were inappropriate for her daughter Amalia and the public “needed new versions of them.” The book, where she rewrites three timeless stories, is entitled, “Natalie Portman’s Fables.”
“I started noticing that the characters in all of these classic stories were predominantly male, and I wanted to keep the stories alive for her,” Portman said. “I think they’re so wonderful and I want her to know the classics, but I also wanted her to have a reflection of the world that is more accurate.”
She particularly has a problem with the fairy tale Cinderella.
“All those kind of princess stories are really problematic…’ Portman said. “You have to fit into the shoe and only one person can fit into a shoe, but [the prince] doesn’t remember the face of the girl he was dancing with last night. Like, it also doesn’t make sense on top of being very offensive.”
Neither does Portman’s explanation.
Fairy tales were not created for people to interpret literally but were a fanciful way to entertain the people of the day and express deeper cultural situations.
The problem Portman seems to have is based on the Disney interpretation of fairy tales, which is highly sanitized from the original source material.
The original Cinderella story written by the Brothers Grimm, who wrote many of the famous fairy tales we know today, was quite different than the film Disney produced in 1950. It was also a rather bloody affair.
In order to fit into the famed shoe, the two stepsisters each mutilate one of their own feet. One cuts off her toe and the other her heel. Before the end of the tale, both also have their eyes plucked out by birds “for their wickedness and falsehood” and “punished with blindness as long as they lived.”
The prince also didn’t see her once, but a couple of times. Each time, Cinderella escaped his questions about her identity, and he lost her as she escaped on her father’s property. When he asked the father if he had another daughter or who the girl might have been, her father apparently thought each time, “Could it be Cinderella?” But he never suggested his daughter to the prince as the mystery woman.
Also, for what it’s worth, the shoe was made of gold, not glass, and the tale may have its roots in mainland China.
The moral of the story, if you read it in its entirety, could actually be summed up by what Cinderella’s mother tells her before her death, “Dear child, remain pious and good, and then our dear God will always protect you, and I will look down on you from heaven and be near you.”
Those are some pretty wise words, but apparently, Portman hasn’t shared those nuggets of wisdom with her daughter.
The Great Cat Massacre: And Other Episodes in French Cultural History, an aptly titled book I read in grad school, explained that fairy tales were a reflection of the time in which they were written. For example, the prevalent use of stepmothers in fairy tales echoed the experience of many families in that period, with mothers dying in childbirth and the fathers remarrying. Due to the scarcity of resources, the fight for survival and the struggle of having step or half-siblings was incredibly real.
There’s also the fantastically interesting French version of the “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” not to be confused with the famous orchestral score of the same name featured in Disney’s Fantasia and Fantasia 2000. In this French tale a young baby boy is sold to the devil, or a sorcerer, so his parents could afford to feed the rest of the family. The initial deal lasted 12 years and the boy and the devil then start a long game of trying to outwit each other by shapeshifting into mostly various animals until the boy finally wins, killing and eating the devil.
The tale of Annette is another rather peculiar offering, as it deals with a woman who has an evil stepmother, but the Virgin Mary gives her a wand that produces a giant feast whenever she touches a black sheep. Annette’s “fatness” due to her extravagant meals results in her increasing beauty, and makes her stepmother suspicious. She ends up meeting and marrying an equally “gluttonous” prince, and her stepmother also breaks her neck and dies.
In a time of body positivity, no matter how unhealthy, that story in particular would likely resonate now, sans the dead stepmother of course.
This idea that everything, past, present and future, must be rewritten in order to fit within the progressive mindset is not a reflection of a more evolved society, but a destructive one. Wouldn’t it be better for Portman to explain to her daughter the meaning, purpose and historical influences behind the fairy tale stories people know so well rather than trying to erase them entirely and rewriting them to serve her own purpose?
Also, who doesn’t love the story of a young woman meeting and marrying a prince? The marriage between Kate Middleton and Prince William was seen by upwards of 1-2 billion people around the world. Natalie Portman may not want her daughter to enjoy fairy tales and princesses, but interest in fairy tales – the traditional ones – has never waned.
Photo from REUTERS