Monday, 19 July 2010

The mass media's influence on storylines and character images with regards to novels and fairytales.

Dear reader,

Well today I wanted to challenge myself with a Plinky prompt… But seeing that today´s prompt is ‘Fictionalize a real argument that you have had. Write only in dialogue’, and taking into consideration that I cannot remember the last time I had an argument with anyone, I will write about something completely different. Instead the topic will be on how the mass media has influenced entire storylines or the images that we have of characters of novels and fairytales. ‘why?’ you ask? Well I am currently reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula and before I started I had this image of Dracula in my mind which was probably similar to this:

You know, the gentleman-like character who is in his 30/40, with his black hair calmed backwards. Oh and don’t forget the black cloak with the silk red lining. Why did I have this particular image in mind when I thought of Dracula? Simply because this is the image that is spread in movies and cartoons and even when it comes to costumes! The reader might be able to understand my surprise when I read the following description of Dracula in Stokers book:
Dracula was ‘a tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache, and clad in black from head to foot, without a single speck of colour about him anywhere.’
How is that for an image change? O.o He’s not in his 30/40’s, but he’s a grandpa! A blood sucking gramps lol.

                         Disney's Little Mermaid            Illustration Anderson's Little Mermaid

This is not the first time that I am struck by the power of the entertainment industry when it comes to characters or even complete plots. Although I am a major fan, I have to admit that Disney is one of the best examples. Let’s for example take the little mermaid. There are very little people who now-a-days know the real story of the little mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson. Instead most people only know the Disney movie. I do not blame Disney for changing the plot and giving Ariel her happy ending (to be honest, I much prefer the Disney version over the Mermaid turning into sea foam and later joining the daughters of the wind…) nor can I blame them for not wanting to make an animation in which a mermaid’s tongue would be cut out (yes the sea witch cuts out her tongue) … That would sure give a lot of kid’s nightmares. However, I do think that it is a pity that this new version almost entirely replaces the original. After all, the original fairytale was beautiful (be it a big macabre) as well. If you have not yet read it, I really would advise you to do so. However, if you are a bit of a cry baby (like me) you might want to keep the tissue box within reach.

    (Pocahontas + son Tomas)      Disney's Pocahontas met Niko and Flit.

The same ‘lovely transformation’ happened to the story of Pocahontas. It is a true story. Disney, however, again adapted it to make it more suitable for little children. Pocahontas was indeed a woman who helped with the negotiations between her tribe and the settlers. John Smith, one of the leading colonists, was captured by Pocahontas’ tribe. When he was about to be executed Pocahontas threw herself over his body (yes very much like in the Disney version) and saved him. Powatan (Pocahontas father) adopted him as a son. He and Pocahontas became good friends… Yep they were just friends and NOTHING but friends. How do I know for sure? It simply is logical deduction. Pocahontas was born in 1595. She saved Smith from being decapitated in 1607 (when she was 11 years old!)… So unless Smith was a pedophile (which I think is quite unlikely) this was a definite no go. So let’s regard him as a doting older brother or something of the sort.
In 1609 Smith was badly injured by a gunpowder wound. As a result he had to be sent back to England. One of the colonizers told Pocahontas that he had died.
Years later she would marry a man named Kocoum (sound familiar?), who was a captain in her tribe. At a certain point in time, when the relationship with the settlers took a turn for the worst, Pocahontas was kidnapped. Kocoum who tried to save her was killed during this incident. During her captivity in the Colonial settlement in Henrico she met John Rolfe, who was a tobacco planter. After Pocahontas had converted to Christianity he married her. In 1616 she left for London. She, her husband and their son (Thomas) accompanied Sir Thomas Dale (a leader of the settlers in Henrico) on his trip back home in order to look for funding for the settlement. In London Pocahontas was introduced to King James I and the royal family. Here she for the second time met John Smith, who she had believed to be dead.
However, whilst she was in London she fell gravely ill. She was either suffering from pneumonia, tuberculosis or smallpox. She died in March 1617 at the age of 22.
(sources: o.a. Encyclopedia Britannica)

It is undeniably true that Disney does help to spread the cultural heritage under children (and that the movies are just fun to watch… --> remember I’m a mega Disney fan!), however, it really is a pity that the original stories, as a result, are almost completely overshadowed by them.
I hope that the reader has found this entry a bit interesting. If so, I might put up some other posts in which I compare movies with the original stories or fairytales. ;) I might even decide to expand my comparison of Disney’s little mermaid with that of Hans Christian Anderson.

^^ Let me know what you think.




Ayaka said...

This post is very interesting, when I read Bram Stockers Dracula I was so happy, I mean they showed Dracula as a creepy man, and then as very good looking one. I was happy that they did that, since it shows the difference that Vampires go through (Sorry if I offend anyone) unlike that twilight crap.

I did get the change to read the little Mermaid in it's horrible originality, I admit it I like the original better even though it gave me nightmares. >.<;;