Monday, April 23, 2012
I don't think I've ever felt a generational gap between me (Gen X) and my daughter (Millennial) as strongly as I did when we went to see Mirror, Mirror. This twist on the classic Snow White tale brought it all into focus for me. It was, in fact, my Mirror, Mirror moment and reflected old vs. new. My wrinkles were showing.
The movie resembled very little of the Snow White story I know and love. Instead, we are presented with the Queen's (Julia Roberts) side of the story, which didn't make much sense. She throws herself at the Prince. She never really asks the mirror who's the fairest, and it is the mirror that provides the magical power. Whatever. I can allow poetic license and go with the flow... with exceptions.
The dwarves are no longer the dwarves from the fairy tale. No Doc, Sneezy, Grumpy, Dopey, et. al. Now we've got Half Pint, Butcher, Wolf, Napoleon, Grimm, Grub and Chuckles and they're not hard-working miners living in the woods. They're bandits. And Snow White becomes a bandit with them, wielding a sword and fighting the Queen's men.
I hated it.
Now, I must back up. I am a feminist and certainly want girls to grow up feeling empowered. And I know that the old fairy tales are horrible for depicting girls as damsels in distress who need a prince to come in and save them. It's not the message I ever wanted for myself, or for my daughter. I feel like I should be happy that Snow White has to swoop in and save the Prince in this re-telling.
But I don't. I'm old. I want the classics to remain classics. I want the beauty and sweetness of the old Snow White and Cinderella tales. I like the romance of them, and the depiction that good triumphs over evil. That was enough for me. I didn't need Snow White or Cinderella picking up swords. I didn't grow up thinking it was okay for them to be passive and wait to be rescued. I think I took away a different message: that a person's true beauty cannot be hidden from the world. They will be rewarded in the end. Pretty passive, I know. It's probably not the best message.
So then I thought about it. What if I'd grown up with this new feminist message? What if I grew up with Snow White and Cinderella tales that show heroines fighting their battles and rescuing princes? What if this were the norm for me? These storylines don't faze my daughter at all. They seem perfectly normal to her. So let's say I grew up with these ideals and then suddenly, in my forties, saw the old classic animated versions of Snow White and Cinderella? I think I'd hate them. I think I'd sit there and wonder why they were so weak and simple-minded. I would not be content to watch them sing to birds and clean the house of seven little men. The storylines wouldn't make any sense to me.
That's not my reality, though. I still love the classics and get bored watching Snow White perform ninja battles against an army. I'm too old or old-fashioned to find this story captivating. I concede that I'm a product of my generation. I want the glass slipper; I want the horse and carriage.