Kindness killed, just as surely as the huntsman's knife
December 27, 2012 10:37 PM   Subscribe

Seven For A Secret - an anonymous fanfic author creates seven unhappy ( or at least, unconventional ) endings for Disney Princesses by placing them in proper historical, mythological, or thematic context.
posted by The Whelk (53 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
A couple of those were fantastic.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:53 PM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


ooh if this is where the bestest yuletide stories go, I cannot get enough of "What Full Lips You Have (They're Sure to Lure Someone Bad)", like I want to make a hundred thousand fanarts of it and play an Apocalypse World game set in its universe and just nngh.
posted by bewilderbeast at 10:54 PM on December 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


Evil by nature and in practice
Playfully malicious or mischievous
Severe and distressing
Highly offensive; obnoxious
Strikingly good, effective, or skillful
posted by Mblue at 11:18 PM on December 27, 2012


Why do people do this? Why poison everything? Seriously, explain to me their motivation. It's not clever or insightful. Merely monstrous.

I could understand transforming Sleeping Beauty's or Cinderella's tales into something liberating. But this just drags them down into the dark and abuses them.
posted by SPrintF at 11:32 PM on December 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I recommend Don't Bet On The Prince, which is at turns dark, empowering, and clever ( Cinderella's uh, santatic revenge plot against her sisters is a high point).
posted by The Whelk at 11:36 PM on December 27, 2012


Seriously, explain to me their motivation. It's not clever or insightful. Merely monstrous.

Why do people explore the darker side of stories that were pretty fuckin' dark in the first place before Disney whitewashed them into pink cultural oblivion?

Life is a weird dark thing. The human condition is all about things going wrong and bad, or us worrying about how they might. Nothing wrong with sunshine and rainbows but nothing inherently superior about it either. Why didn't Joseph Conrad write The Heart of Lightness? Why didn't Bogart get the girl in Casablanca? Why did Jesus get his ass martyred?
posted by cortex at 11:37 PM on December 27, 2012 [53 favorites]


"...just drags them down into the dark and abuses them."


I think you just wrote an alternate ending for Aladdin...
posted by darkstar at 11:37 PM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I personally am totally cuffed by the extension of the medieval arranged marriage metaphor inherent in Beauty and The Beast in the Orginal stories into a revolutionary fable myself, the You Can Change Him iarc turned int You Can Change The artistocroacy/World, it's really freaking clever.
posted by The Whelk at 11:43 PM on December 27, 2012


Why didn't Joseph Conrad write The Heart of Lightness? Why didn't Bogart get the girl in Casablanca? Why did Jesus get his ass martyred?

All three of these tales, in their own way, have happy endings.
posted by Pudhoho at 11:52 PM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why do people explore the darker side of stories that were pretty fuckin' dark in the first place before Disney whitewashed them into pink cultural oblivion?

I am sympathetic to this argument, but then it bangs up against the fact that those stories weren't really dark back then: they were just what stories were, even stories for children, probably because most of the audience had wretched lives and stories had a different social function. Now we have different stories for children, or maybe more registers for stories, and we were going along that path of making children's stories nicer* long before Disney got in on the act. Exploring the darker side of Cinderella now isn't going back to the source material; it's reflecting our interests and our own obsessions with particular forms of darkness. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, but it's not some liberation of these tales from Disney's clutches in the name of historical truth.

*Not always nice in the Disney way, though, I'll admit that.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:59 PM on December 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


Buttercup: You mock my pain.
Man in Black: Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 12:06 AM on December 28, 2012 [17 favorites]


Life is a weird dark thing. Quoted for truth.

Still, it troubles me, this urge to feed upon dreams. I see this infecting my own writing, this loss of hope, and I struggle against it. It is good to see the darkness within one's self. It is evil to surrender to it.

(Having said that, I think I'd be in a better mood if the rain would stop.)
posted by SPrintF at 12:06 AM on December 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


those stories weren't really dark back then

Oh yes, they were. Perrault's tales include "Bluebeard", which was clearly inspired by a gruesome real-life serial killer. Even if life was tough, this kind of awfulness wasn't everyday life.
The difference is that, before the Victorian age, childhood wasn't idealised, and it was considered not just tolerable to shock children with such gruesome tales, but even a good education for them.
posted by Skeptic at 12:13 AM on December 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


We've got to fight the darkness, fight against entropy, even if only in some small way. Otherwise, what's the point?
posted by BiggerJ at 12:31 AM on December 28, 2012


Compared to the original stories, these little retellings are far less gruesome.

In the originally transcribed version:
- Sleeping Beauty was impregnated while asleep
- Rapunzel's prince has his eyes torn out with thorns
- The Little Mermaid felt like she was walking on swords - her prince betrays her and she dies
- Cinderella's stepsisters have their eyes pecked out by ravens
- Snow White's wicked stepmother is forced into heated iron shoes to dance until she died

As far as the 'it was a different time' argument goes, I don't think these little tales are meant for children, so that is beside the point.
posted by winna at 12:36 AM on December 28, 2012 [11 favorites]


But this just drags them down into the dark and abuses them.

Fairy tales are dark and abusive. The Disney versions are just copyright abusing fluff.

And for fanfic, you should just be pleased they were lacking long, lingering non-con, incest or Mpreg.
posted by Mezentian at 12:41 AM on December 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why do people do this?

A. Because, due to the fact that the Disney Princesses (TM) are a cultural touchstone/brand that informs the expectations of young people vis a vis gender, class, race, and history, at a very young age, it is healthy that said cultural touchstone/brand be semi-regularly dragged out into the light so that we may more honestly reflect on its place in our society. This may hopefully lead to positive changes (for example in Wreck it Ralph (spoilers) a recent Disney flick where a character is revealed to be a princess and then that same character immediately blows a raspberry in the face of such nonsense and dubs herself President instead).

B. Because people like to drag happy things into the dark and abuse them.

Being an optimist, I tend to lean towards explanation A.
posted by sendai sleep master at 12:49 AM on December 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't think it is any coincidence that most of this seriously revisionist storytelling is done by women and for women, be in mainstream Angela Carter or fanfic. There is something so ultimately satisfying about retellings like Jasmine, like Belle, like Snow White.

We are sick of our happily ever afters being passive and soul-destroying. We will destroy in turn, we will create our heritage and our stories and drive deep into each and every little nook and cranny previously restricted to men and their stories.

I mean, seriously, this is dark and abusive? Fuck that noise. This is redemptive, in a bitter way. This is part of a greater whole. We get reams and reams and realms and realms of women-hating, truly abusive, terrible and horrifying 'literature' - this is taking some of the power of that darkness back.
posted by geek anachronism at 1:29 AM on December 28, 2012 [24 favorites]


The story about Sleeping Beauty being named Patient Zero really got my hopes up that she had actually died and the prince's kiss brought her back as a zombie. Surely *someone* has written that story.
posted by solotoro at 2:12 AM on December 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


He awakens her with a kiss only to have his brains eaten like a carnival snack...
posted by Pudhoho at 2:26 AM on December 28, 2012


Why do people do this?

I think mostly it's just playing around.

It has been going on for a long time: think how many versions of King Arthur there are, and always have been. Think how Penelope is the epitome of faithfulness in Homer, while Roman sources tell you she had sex twenty different ways with each of the Suitors while Odysseus was away.

Sometimes it's taking a sort of revenge on a story you've heard too often.
Sometimes it's a self-conscious manipulation of elements of popular culture for intellectual satisfaction or to make a metacultural point.
Sometimes it's making a political point of some kind.
Sometimes it's an attempt to draw out depths which were implied in the original story but not explored.
Sometimes it's an exorcism of a story that occupies your mind too much.
Sometimes it's exploiting the familiarity of an established character to save yourself work (and perhaps cover a lack of talent).
Sometimes it's correcting a perceived flaw in the original version.
Sometimes it's celebrating and paying tribute to the original version.

Mostly it's just playing around.
posted by Segundus at 2:30 AM on December 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


People like to talk shit about the Disney versions, but the expressionist forest in Snow White is pretty scary. My favorite part of this Yuletide, aside from my own gifts, is that the Breaking Bad fics are Skyler/Jesse. In a moment of nostalgia, I looked at my Brideshead Revisited fic from a couple of years ago and noticed a typo-even though no one will read it and I can get to a computer tomorrow, it's annoying.
posted by betweenthebars at 2:55 AM on December 28, 2012


Because back then everybody was drunk even the children.
posted by Sailormom at 4:07 AM on December 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


The human condition is all about things going wrong and bad, or us worrying about how they might.

ALL about? Why do I feel like I'm the only person who doesn't revel in despair and anxiety 100% of the time?
posted by DU at 5:04 AM on December 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why did Jesus get his ass martyred?

SPOILER I didn't get to that part yet.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:07 AM on December 28, 2012 [7 favorites]


Why do people do this?

Well, since this is for Yuletide, (and I haven't seen if the recipient made specific requests and I didn't participate this year) it is possible someone did this because they were specifically requested to.

Yuletide always has so many gems - some hilarious, some sweet, some weird, some dark. I always, always find something there that I intially think "oh HELL no, I won't like that" and again and again, I am proved wrong. And I say this as someone who really doesn't like a lot of darkfic.
posted by pointystick at 5:34 AM on December 28, 2012


Jasmine's is my favorite.
posted by likeatoaster at 5:36 AM on December 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


before the Victorian age, childhood wasn't idealised, and it was considered not just tolerable to shock children with such gruesome tales, but even a good education for them.

I am not sure any pre-modern ideas on children's education need to be particularly honored.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:02 AM on December 28, 2012


Cute. Very much like a lot of modern fantasy it "subverts expectations" with grimdark plot twists and plenty of dead women.
posted by Gin and Comics at 7:04 AM on December 28, 2012


No mention of Gaimans Snow, Glass, Apples? Definitely a great dark version of Snow White from another perspective.
posted by mrzarquon at 7:06 AM on December 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


My favorite yuletide offering so far has been the XKCD 'Click and Drag' comic/Invisible Cities offering Bigger than you think. The decision to use an IF format was incredibly clever, yet makes so much sense.

There's also Visible Cities, a Phantom Tollbooth crossover adventure that matches the prose style of the original nicely.

Reveals are usually around the first, IIRC, so if you like something, you should go back and see who wrote what around then.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:25 AM on December 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


I rather enjoyed these, except the Aurora one which just grafted an epidemic on to her story. The others were better integrated into the fairy tales.
posted by jeather at 7:51 AM on December 28, 2012


before the Victorian age, childhood wasn't idealised, and it was considered not just tolerable to shock children with such gruesome tales, but even a good education for them.
I am not sure any pre-modern ideas on children's education need to be particularly honored.

I don't know, I think maybe the pre-mods were on to something. Pre-modern children's tales were parables that taught them how to recognize and avoid very real dangers in the world as they learned to be independent at a young age.

Modern children's tales are cushioned treacly-sweet fantasies of goodness and light told by parents who live in fear of germs and strangers and the government and traffic and Muslims and video games and the economy to children who grow up to underachieve and take xanax for their generalized anxiety disorder.
posted by headnsouth at 7:57 AM on December 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why didn't Joseph Conrad write The Heart of Lightness? Why didn't Bogart get the girl in Casablanca? Why did Jesus get his ass martyred?

A true story:

Some years ago, a friend was living with his uncle. The uncle in question was a devout Jehovah's Witness, a very white-bread fellow, who did not swear or engage in any vices. Clean living was his thing.

This friend was listening to Smashing Pumpkins, and "Disarm" came on, and the uncle in question, he cocked his head to listen, and then he said:

"Why does it have to be 'the killer in me is the killer in you?' Why couldn't it be 'the helper in me is the helper in you?'"

Why indeed.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:04 AM on December 28, 2012 [12 favorites]


There's also Visible Cities, a Phantom Tollbooth crossover adventure that matches the prose style of the original nicely.

What're you talking about? That prose doesn't reflect Italo Calvino's style at all!
posted by hippybear at 9:14 AM on December 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Rapunzel's prince has his eyes torn out with thorns

But he later is reunited with Rapunzel. She cries tears of joy and the tears heal his eyes (which were scratched by the thorns, IIRC, not torn out) and they live (presumably) happily ever after.

The rest of your examples are as I remembered them, but I think Rapunzel does have a happy ending.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:47 AM on December 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think Rapunzel does have a happy ending.

According to this book, in the original telling of Rapunzel, the witch twigs to the fact that the prince has been visiting the tower when Rapunzel, by now laden with child due to repeated "visits" with the prince, asks the witch why her clothes are starting to strain at the belly.

So ... yes.
posted by gauche at 11:55 AM on December 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


We are sick of our happily ever afters being passive and soul-destroying.

So that's why Disney's Mulan needs no retelling! Because she is neither passive nor soul-destroying.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:08 PM on December 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let's get down to business!
posted by The Whelk at 2:14 PM on December 28, 2012


Classic Disney is not without its sense of looming evil (Fantasia has the devil creature in Night on Bald Mountain, The Jungle Book has the wonderfully creepy Shere Khan), but they're really just shadow puppets that look dangerous at first glance. During the movie, does anybody really believe that Cruella DeVille is going to skin the puppies? I know I didn't when I first saw the movie at the age of five or six (she is creepy, but you don't doubt the outcome, even if you don't know how it ail transpire).

In the books, Mowgli kills Shere Khan, and rather than going off to the village to chase a pretty girl, he wipes the village from the face of the earth (although without killing the villagers) because they threaten to burn his real mother as a witch.

Restoring a little real darkness to stories that always had evil and cruelty and wanton malice in them is not polluting much loved, sweet stories; it's adding a little leaven to stories that can survive many differing retellings, though, of course an given retelling might be crap.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 4:48 PM on December 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


So that's why Disney's Mulan needs no retelling! Because she is neither passive nor soul-destroying.

They've been making Movies about Hua Mulan since 1927 -- Disney's version is neither the first nor the last version of the classic story, though she certainly does kick butt.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 4:54 PM on December 28, 2012


Disney's Mulan is not the first, nor the best, but she's a perfectly fine big budget, big movie version, Bizzaro dragon side kick andhis roach side kick aside.
posted by The Whelk at 4:59 PM on December 28, 2012


Also these are riffing on the Disney versions of western fairy tales, of which Mulan is so not. See also, Lilo and Stitch and Atlantis and Tarzan and the not fairy tale Disney canon.
posted by The Whelk at 5:07 PM on December 28, 2012


Definitely left kudos on that, but my favorite book of fairy tale retellings is probably one by Tanith Lee.
posted by immlass at 5:10 PM on December 28, 2012


> Why do people do this? Why poison everything? Seriously, explain to me their motivation. It's not clever or insightful. Merely monstrous.

What I find monstrous: Bending every fairy and folk tale into the same formulaic treatment of "and then the prince falls in love with the girl and [therefore] she is a princess and her enemies go poof." Reinforcing that this, and only this, is the definition of both "happy" and "ending."

I don't find the individual films monstrous on their own, mind you, I loved Snow White and Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty as a child too. But I found the discovery of the darker source material tremendously more insightful. And taken collectively, the films seem more and more like an exhausting machine masquerading as "romanticism."
posted by desuetude at 8:53 PM on December 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


Original fairy tale moral:

If you disobey your parents, you'll die.


Disney version fairy tale moral:

If you disobey your parents, you'll have thrilling adventures and it will all end up awesome.



Hmmm....
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:26 AM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


How to survive a fairy tale, an FAQ.


Basically, the moral of OG fairy tales is NEVER DO ANYTHING.
posted by The Whelk at 1:17 AM on December 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


I seem to recall that helping creatures who ask for it is rewarded later. No mercy brings no mercy.
posted by mkim at 5:17 PM on December 29, 2012


as long as helping them doesn't upset the status quo (of which Fairy Tales are kind of BORN to keep up , look to The Child With A Mind Of It's Own, being willful gets you killed) you're fine, although I did notice that Italian Folk/ fairy stores tended more towards the "If yer clever you can trick the duke and marry the madien and ha ha!" end of things then the more German "doing anything that is not what your parents say to do will KILL YOU HORRIBLY IN MANY, MANY WAYS " or the French "Hey! Don't get ideas above your station, cause thinking you are equal to the aristos leads to BURNING FEET and SWANS and PAIN."
posted by The Whelk at 5:53 PM on December 29, 2012


Ha ha! Yes. Though there is also the long tradition of the third son, the lazy layabout dreamer, who some how beats out his superior brothers, solves the mystery/ surmounts the obstacles, wins the princess[i.e. wins the monies, never has to work again] So some wish fulfillment going on along with the moral/social lessons. A little screw you. Remember it was not the aristocracy who was sitting around the fire telling these stories. But I get your point. Yeah.
posted by mkim at 7:20 PM on December 29, 2012


Also, trickery and con jobs traditionally play a large part in folk tales of all kinds. We all know this. Just want to add it to my comment above, as I neglected to include it.
posted by mkim at 7:42 PM on December 29, 2012


"Why does it have to be 'the killer in me is the killer in you?' Why couldn't it be 'the helper in me is the helper in you?'"

Why indeed.


I want to hug you like an animal.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:30 AM on December 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hug Da Police.
posted by The Whelk at 3:59 PM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


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