I just watched a horribly drawn, poorly animated, hokey little movie with my daughter titled Bratz Kids: Fairy Tales. It started out with the usual modern day fairy tale deconstruction (and lacked the authenticity of those who are doing this trope well) that has a message of girl power and relying on yourself instead of a male to rescue you; a good, albeit, overdone message. But then it took a really interesting turn…
The girls in the movie were discussing with each other just how outdated and ridiculous these stories of girls waiting to be rescued were and that they didn’t like the message they seemed to be perpetuating. And then a little frog showed up to tell them they were being harsh and whisk them away to fairy tale land so he could show them what he meant.
When Snow White refused to clean up for the dwarves they kicked her out and she was left wandering around in the forest, hungry and vulnerable. When Cinderella questioned the need for a prince to rescue her she learned that in this time period she wouldn’t be able to work, own land or care for herself. I suddenly realized that as great as the new fairy tales adaptations are these very real issues are often ignored.
This movie showed the girls realizing that life was very different for girls at the time these stories were written. They ultimately found that they were extremely grateful to live in the times they do so they don’t have to rely on boys to save them. But they also learned not to judge the fairy tale characters so harshly and that enduring the oppression that girls faced during those times would have required a lot of strength. The girls in these stories aren’t to be scoffed at; they were simply doing the best they could for the culture in which they lived.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the adaptations which portray strong women and I wouldn’t change a thing about many of them. This (admittedly bad) movie simply had ANOTHER interesting point that is less about modern ideals and more about accepting the realities of the past and using that acceptance to cultivate gratitude and empathy.
Who knew the Bratz* could be so deep?
*It really is too bad that whoever came up with the concept wasted it on a bad straight-to-video Bratz movie. I hope someone else explores the concept and is able to execute it well so the message can reach a wider audience.