Author tries to ‘de-Disneyfy’ fairy tales at CSULB
Published: Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Updated: Thursday, July 12, 2012 15:07
To many people, fairy tales and Disney go hand in hand, but Dr. Jack Zipes, an expert on the matter, disagrees.
The University of Minnesota professor and author hosted an analytical seminar Monday night in the Anatol Center at Cal State Long Beach. The title of the lecture, "De-Disneyfying the
Fairy-Tale Film," referred to the "Disneyfication" of fairy tales. According to Zipes, Disney has become the downfall of stories that were originally more thoughtful and intended for adults only.
The turnout was impressive for a Monday evening, with nearly all of the seats in the auditorium filled.
The evening began with Zipes speaking about his experience in the field of fairy tales and describing the various books that he's written, including the textbook used for German classes at CSULB.
He admitted to being "a little anxious about giving a very critical talk about Disney in Disneyland," referring to the fact that he has never hosted a seminar to people in Southern California.
Zipes spoke about Walt Disney and said, "Although he's dead, he still sits on the throne of fairy tales."
He then expressed that it would be important to "move away from Disney if we're to create more viable fairy tales that are more pertinent to our lives." He said that his scrutiny of Disney was not unfounded.
"Our notions of happiness are filtered through Disney lenses, even if [those lenses] are myopic," he said.
After briefly explaining the evolution of fairy tales from thousands of years ago to today, Zipes showed the first video of the evening, which was an early film version of "Little Red Riding Hood." The black and white cartoon characters did not speak as a constant upbeat tune played in the background, accompanied by whimsical sound effects.
In the film, an abstract "Red Riding Hood" character was pursued by a shifty-eyed man donning a bowler hat and driving a convertible that tip-toed behind her. He eventually trapped her in her grandma's vacant house and presumably violated her, making the house jump, shake and expand as the girl screamed inside.
Zipes explained it was a symbolic wolf-pursuit, and said "Little Red Riding Hood" was "all about rape."
Following the film, Zipes showed several Disney adaptations of the fairy tale. In contrast, Disney focused on sporadic outbreaks of song and infantile girls who became increasingly dumb and vulnerable.
Zipes said Disney's versions of the fairy tale upset fellow Hollywood animators. He showed several more versions from other creators, some of which mocked Disney.
Zipes ended the evening when he said, "Just as drug addicts can save themselves with detoxification, the film industry can benefit from a de-Disneyfication of fairy tales."