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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Parents: Leave fairy tales alone

    Some parents believe Cinderella is training impressionable girls to be submissive housewives and Goldilocks is priming children to steal. These parents are over-analyzing childhood favorites.

    Once upon a time, a British television channel called Watch commissioned a survey of 2,000 parents to see which fairy tales they no longer consider acceptable for children. Along with “Cinderella” and “Goldilocks,” other timeless classics on the Do Not Read list included “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “The Gingerbread Man,” “Rapunzel” and “Little Red Riding Hood.”

    Parents criticized these fairy tales for being too graphic or immoral. But compared to the original stories told by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm — also known as the Brothers Grimm — these retellings are seriously watered down.

    Take the original “Little Red Riding Hood,” for example. The wolf eats not only Grandma, but also Little Red. A huntsman then comes to their rescue, cuts the wolf’s stomach open and pulls them out alive. In most versions today, Red is spared and there’s no slicing and dicing of the big bad wolf. Some of the other shunned stories are even more innocent than that.

    Today’s story of“Goldilocks” tells of a rebellious girl who stumbles across a house owned by a family of talking bears. She trespasses, eats their porridge, breaks a chair and falls asleep in one of their beds. She also escapes before she can be reprimanded. Parents said that without proper punishment, the tale sends the wrong message about stealing without consequences.

    Or there’s “The Gingerbread Man,” the tale of a childless old couple that bakes a gingerbread boy to be their son — except Ginger jumps from the oven and then runs to freedom. The liberated cookie has the time of his life until a fox eats him.

    Parents surveyed said the fox’s cookie consumption is too graphic and too uncomfortable to explain to their children.

    Feminists have condemned the Disney princess movies, like “Cinderella,” for depicting women as weak, unhappy and incomplete without a man. The idolized characters generally have to be rescued by a prince in order to live happily ever after.

    However, according to the survey, it’s not just the prince factor that parents are concerned about. It’s seeing a woman do all of the housework. The survey shows parents consider the story outdated. This one is more understandable yet still taken too seriously.

    The apex of their audacity came when parents said “Jack and the Beanstalk” was too unrealistic for children. Of course it’s unrealistic, there’s a giant and a climbable beanstalk that shoots into the sky. That’s the beauty of fairy tales — they’re all impractical.

    Fairy tales lay the foundation for imagination, creativity and dreams. There are no underlying malevolent intentions or lessons.

    Overall this is a classic case of making a mountain out of a molehill. Children are capable of understanding the difference between a fable and real life, especially if it’s explained to them. Just tell them stealing porridge from bears, murdering cookies and talking to unfamiliar wolves or godmothers is wrong, and even life-threatening.

    To deprive children of some of the most famous and well-read stories in the world is also to deprive them of one of the few childhood experiences that has been a tradition for generations.

    — Kelly Hultgren is a junior studying journalism and communication. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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