The Disneyization Of Fairy Tales

Max Ross reviews Jack Zipes's The Irresistible Fairy Tale, a cultural and social history of the genre. Ross examines the evolution of the stories' political meanings:

As an oral form, fairy tales have been around for millennia; it wasn’t until the 17th century that they were written down for the first time. Somewhat more recently, Zipes laments, they’ve been commercialized into TV and films and, with each new incarnation, the fairy tale’s ability to depict social struggles has diminished. Likewise, the fairy tale’s narrative edge has been continually dulled; whereas folklore was once rife with inventive murders, unwanted pregnancies, and the occasional cannibalistic feast, the various media have redacted, airbrushed, and photoshopped much of this content away. Which means, basically, the stories are less fun. It was Disney, Zipes says, that did the most damage, kidnapping the fairy tale and malnourishing it until it was nearly dead, editing out any edifying material in favor of listless princesses and happy endings.