Long the domain of children, fairy tales have undergone a definite shift in recent times and not all of it for the better. After watching Maleficent, I found myself thinking of all the recent “re-imaginings” of some of our most beloved classics. From a young boy, I fell in love with the simple purity of the classic fairy tale. My imagination was inspired by the magic, the beauty and the wonder of stories that provided me with an escape from the difficult and complex life I was born into.
But the idea that change is good and that modern stories must reflect modern thinking is not a direction I think we as a society want to head. Classics are classics for a reason. They are not burdened by a post-suffragette thinking, nor are they weighed down by post-modern views on sexuality, purpose and belief. In their purist form they are largely ignorant of issues of racial intolerance. Huckleberry Finn is a great example of a classic form of story telling that innocently ignores the racial context, preferring instead to focus on story.
Thus, we have a range of classic stories that apparently no longer fit well within a Politically Correct modern society which is in the habit of reading into stories what was never intended to be there in the first place. In the largely innocent post Victorian context the old tales find themselves, black sheep are simply black sheep. They are not black because they are making some kind of racist statement. Calling them “rainbow sheep” is merely drawing attention to a bizarre modernist attitude and actually makes an issue out of the purity of the story, where none previously existed. This actually causes the very thing which was intended to prevent.
The same applies to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She has white skin. Deal with it. Her dwarfs are not small statured people who couldn’t help being born that way, they are dwarfs. Dwarfs have existed for millennia in mythology all throughout the world. So why change it?
Right now, the literary world is being negatively influenced by powerful voices from an “intellectual” minority who are seeking to subvert the narrative subtext of some of the best known stories, tearing them to shreds, picking out elements they feel no longer sit comfortably in a modern context and making bizarre changes, altering the meaning and thereby destroying the innocence and purity of the original work. This has to stop!
This brings me to my own series of books titled The Black Fairy and The Dragonfly. Lily is not black because I want to make a statement about race. It was never my intention to invert the traditional fairy in fairy tales. The reason I chose her to be dark skinned has nothing whatsoever to do with race. It was merely to differentiate her from the rest of the kingdom and make her stand out not just because of her color, but because of the deep magic she inherited from her parents. It is this difference that brings fear to her kingdom because she is so unusual. The members of her community do not cast her out because she is black, but because her birth is seen as an omen, a portent for doom. In their ignorance they believe their own prophecies that an unusual child will be born into their time, heralding a coming darkness.
Ironically, it is the Dark Queen Eglartharious herself (Eglarth is actually pale skinned, with piercing red eyes and menacing black eagle-like wings) who brings this doom. It is Lily, thanks to her special gifts of insight and magic, who brings about the end of this evil. In the end her community welcome her back into the kingdom. Their attitude has not changed because they now see they were wrong to misjudge her based on her color. No, they now know they were wrong to misjudge her out of ignorance at all. That she grows to become a very special queen is a counterpoint to the norm, but again, I insist it has nothing to do at all with some misplaced need to redress the wrongs as some people see them in stories of the past.
Lily’s journey is a very unusual one, but at the same time, it hearkens back to the innocent narrative purity of a by-gone era of story telling and a classic style which is fast becoming lost on modern readers and audiences. Children see the world through innocent eyes. They do not judge based on the color of a person’s skin. Such things have no relevance to them. So, let them be innocent. Stop messing with the context of stories and let them be. By altering, changing, reworking and constantly reinventing the classics, we are drawing attention away from the purist form of story telling and placing the emphasis on the very things we are trying to rid the world of.
A note on the latest video: I noticed a couple of glaring mistakes, so I changed the video and made it better. it does not seem to matter how careful I am, some things get missed. My wife noticed this one, that I had spelled “terrifying” as terryfying. It was a small but obvious error. I’ve now fixed it and took the opportunity to add more text and improve the overall feel of the following trailer. Enjoy.