Thursday, April 18, 2013

Art, Inspiration, and Adaptations

First, a brief announcement that the Museum trip with the ChildLit GSA has been cancelled, but if you want to check out the Maurice Sendak exhibit on your own, you have until April 28th! And if you do, feel free to share your experience and review of it.

In fact, there are always interesting exhibits and events going on all over the place, if you know where to look. Case in point, the Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra has had some really intriguing exhibits in the past. It's always frustrating to learn about these after the fact, like the Tribute to Wizard of Oz collection; however, one can at least view the pieces and artwork online to get a taste of the exhibit. Their upcoming gallery exhibit, starting oh-so-coincidentally on May 4th, is "A Saga in the Stars: a Tribute to a Galaxy Far, Far Away," featuring artwork inspired by the Star Wars franchise. I wonder what this exhibit will have transformed into once Disney's own life force reincarnates the saga into a never-ending series?

Speaking of Disney, a short piece of Huffington Post today discusses the malleability of fairy tales in every generation, mentioning the domination of Disney in children's minds. Liesl Shurtliff writes, "Fairy tales have survived for generations, not just because of their symbolic nature, but because they are flexible. We can shift point-of-view, draw different conclusions, and even change the events of the tale to make them more meaningful to our current social, political, and moral points-of-view." What follows are a series of "successful" adaptations... Do you agree with the arguments for these adaptations? What would you include?


  1. I'm always looking at how fairy tale elements show up in "normal" literature, so I completely agree with Shurtliff's assertion. Jack Zipes also touches on this idea of fairy tale flexibility in his most recent book. He calls fairy tales mimetic and points out how they are constantly adapted to reflect the current social/cultural climate. I'm on board with the adaptations that Shurtliff includes. I'd probably include the film "Ever After" on that list, along with Bill Willingham's Fables comics.

    1. I also agree with Shurtliff... and you... and Zipes. That's the nature of the fairy tale, to transform with the times. Is it because they began as somewhat general cautionary tales that they can shift so easily to whatever the current period wants or needs? Can or do we have similar success in adapting other tales that are not born from these "fairy tales"...?
      On that note, did you have a chance to finish Tiger Lily yet?

  2. I think the cautionary aspect is part of it, but I also think it goes back to something very primal -- folklore and oral storytelling have existed since people could communicate, and it partly blossomed to foster a sense of community and to transmit social ideals for that community. It's very interesting to consider how that translates to the way we use fairy tales today. Consider Disney and the social ideals that fit so well when Snow White came out in the 1930s -- docile damsel, powerful prince. And if we look at, say, the way fairy tale characters are used in comics -- highly sexualized and violent -- it reflects our own society today. These are simplistic examples, of course, but it's fun to think about.

    And gee, are you going to be shocked when I admit that I haven't finished Tiger Lily yet? Hahaha. It's going to have to wait until I get out of the thesis cave, I'm afraid.