Friday, November 11, 2011

Possibly a More Badass Fairytale?

The trailer for Snow White and the Huntsman has just been released, and so far it appears to be kind of a badass action flick. The description for the film reads:

In the epic action-adventure Snow White and the Huntsman, Kristen Stewart (Twilight) plays the only person in the land fairer than the evil queen (Oscar(r) winner Charlize Theron) out to destroy her. But what the wicked ruler never imagined is that the young woman threatening her reign has been training in the art of war with a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth, Thor) dispatched to kill her. Sam Claflin (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) joins the cast as the prince long enchanted by Snow White's beauty and power. The breathtaking new vision of the legendary tale is from Joe Roth, the producer of Alice in Wonderland, producer Sam Mercer (The Sixth Sense) and acclaimed commercial director and state-of-the-art visualist Rupert Sanders.

Badassing up fairytales has been attempted before (see my post on Tangled... I was unimpressed but apparently a lot of people liked it and that has been one of my more polemic posts... I mean. Really.) to varying degrees of success. My awesome girl-power 90s childhood was filled with this kind of stuff, which I always enjoyed. I was a huge fan of Gail Carson Levine, and there was some book of original and re-imagined fairytales with girls as the heroines that I read over and over (but have no idea what it's called now).

One of the main critiques of this season's new TV line up (which is all about housewives, fairy tale land, and 1960s sexism) is that even though there are a lot of women in main roles, the entire point of those TV shows is that the women are in positions of disempowerment. As stewardesses on Pan Am or in enchanted towns or in suburban hell, the female characters are already sort of underdogs.

And yeah... some of these situations are/were realistic. There is something to be said about the desire to watch someone succeed in the face of adversity. That's why we identify with the Final Girl in horror movies. (After we're grossed out and disgusted by the way female characters are cut down and killed with gratuitous violence in the majority of the movie.)

But there's something about putting female characters in retro situations... where they are disempowered and/or disenfranchised... and then deciding that this is what audiences want to see. And that's what audiences want to see again. And again. And again. Don't get me wrong, even with the critiques I will probably never be able to forsake my childhood love of Disney Princesses, but at the same time... is this an issue that bothers other people? Can't we get some more straight up badass roles for women?

In related posts... see Jezebel's article called Why are the 'New, Modern' Interpretations of Snow White So... White?

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