The Dark Side of the Fairy Tales

26 June 2019
Magenta, Italy

We think of fairy tales as light and happy children’s stories about hyper-passive women with strong visual imagery, such as Cinderella’s slipper, Snow White’s apple, Rapunzel’s tower. The Brothers Grimm seem like quaint folklore collectors, writing down the stories of country people for posterity. Words are powerful. Stories are powerful teachers. They shape our minds with social norms and taboos, yet they are also passive to the whims of the society manipulating them.

Fairy tales grew out of the oral folklore tradition. Throughout history, every culture has passed down their own fairy tales, which served as cautionary stories and moral warnings, with common elements like plot, characters and motif appearing across different cultures.

The participants were divided into groups. Each group received some puzzles that formed the cover of a fairy tale. Behind each image were questions that helped identify the group’s fairy tale. The first questions were generic and concerned the story of the fairy tale.

The fairy tales presented were for example “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Cinderella”, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs “etc.

In the groups we tried to interpret old fairy tales in a modern key. The work was quite difficult but fascinating. Many fairy tales were interpretable in a “dark side”, that is, comparisons were made with current phenomena such as gender discrimination, femicide, pedophilia, etc.

Many participants found themselves displaced and did not expect such current and controversial interpretations.