Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Brothers Grimm

"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown." - H.P. Lovecraft

One of my posters, who goes by the name of Tekton, sent me this link, a film version of the folk tale, Bearskin:

Click here

These films were made in the '70s by Tom Davenport, and they are not available online to link to. Only trailers are available at YouTube. I strongly advise you to watch this.

These versions are exactly what the misnamed "fairy tales" are really about: they're horror stories. Does Stephen King writes fairy tales or horror?

Horror is always about Chaos or Evil intruding into the normal. Chaos is pushed back or defeated, and the normal reasserts itself.

Disney, of course, bowdlerized them, although some of the scary stuff did make it through.

"The tales are a magical, scary, comedic, and often violent journey into the forests of ancient Germany and France where every path leads to mystery and adventure," writes the site, Candlelight Stories.

So what exactly is the use of telling children such stories?

Bruno Bettelheim, in his The Uses of Enchantment: the Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales, suggested "that traditional fairy tales, with the darkness of abandonment, death, witches, and injuries, allowed children to grapple with their fears in remote, symbolic terms. If they could read and interpret these fairy tales in their own way, he believed, they would get a greater sense of meaning and purpose. Bettelheim thought that by engaging with these socially evolved stories, children would go through emotional growth that would better prepare them for their own futures."

In other words, they deal with it in the safety of their own minds. In addition to folk tales, think about how much horror there is in urban legends, print, radio, film, comics TV. Think The Walking Dead. Think even Breaking Bad. There must be a purpose to this, and an important one

Kids know how much they can take. They tell you to stop or put their hands over their eyes. But in the long run, most love the stuff.

Think about it this way: if kids were raised pure and innocent and knew nothing about life, how would they turn out? They'd be nuts. They couldn't deal with the unknown, the threatening, the deadly, the stalking, the thing under the bed, the scary stranger. Horror teaches us how to react in situations of dread and terror and fear and threat.

In fact, they'd end up like those stupid naive girls who stagger around at 3 am drunk and half-dressed, and end up butchered by a serial killer.


Anders said...

As a 7 year old kid, when I saw Disney movies like Peter Pan or the Rescuers or Lady and the Tramp, I thought that was some really lame shit. But then, I discovered films like Misery, Hell Raiser, Nightmare on Elm St., and Friday the 13th. Afterwards, I couldn't look at people as inherently good ever again.

Anonymous said...

I got an old edition of Grimms' Fairy Tales and started reading them to my 7-year-old daughter at bedtime. The other day we read one called The Turnip, which ultimately involves (1) a man becoming envious of his brother and hiring murderers to kill him, (2) the murderers getting spooked by the sound of someone approaching in the forest, and so tying their intended victim up in a sack and tossing him into a tree, and (3) the victim talking his way out of the sack by telling the passerby -- a student, natch -- that he was up in the tree because the sack was the Sack of Wisdom, and anyone who spent time in it would become very wise.

She was a little weirded out by the thought that envy could motivate fratricide -- gonna have to remind her about Cain and Abel again -- but instantly got that the wicked flee when no man pursueth, and that you have to be pretty dopey to believe that malarkey about a Sack of Wisdom.