Tag Archives: Fairy Tale

Plot Twist, Mr. Frodo!

Here be spoilers for The Wolf Among Us.  Because I want to talk about the ending to season 1, and ya know, gotta talk about everything if you want to talk about the end.

Tally ho!

So, Telltale games (most famously known for The Walking Dead games) has done a series of point and click adventure games based on the Fables graphic novel/comic series.  I had read the first book of the series before playing The Wolf Among Us, based on the recommendation of a friend.  Anyway, the universe the game (and the comics.  And the novels.  And short stories. And, and, and…) takes place in is a 1980’s-esque New York in Fabletown.

For those of you not from New York, that isn’t actually a burrow.  In Fables, fairy tales have been forced out of their homelands and into our reality.  They live in a secret community called Fabletown, passing for humans through the use of magical glamours (and those of the community who can’t pass for human, live on an annex to Fabletown called The Farm.  Everyone hates the Farm).  It’s pretty hilarious to see one of the three little pigs take a smoke.

Anyway, you play as Bigby Wolf (you know him as the Big Bad Wolf), the sheriff of Fabletown, as he tries to keep the peace.  The plot is very solid, generally ending each episode on a great cliffhanger and keeping a rapid, snappy pace.  The entire setting is 1980’s noir, except with Mr. Toad and Ichabod Crane.  It’s fantastic.  The characters are twisted variants on the fables they come from, sorta kinda.  Snow White is nothing like the girl in the tale, but Beauty and the Beast are a painfully sappy, yet always bickering married couple you know that centuries of marriage would make them.

So, why did I bring this up at all?  Because plot twists, man.

The Wolf Among Us is a detective story, and as anything in the genre, it has a twisty bendy plot with Bigby slowly filling in the holes as he goes.  Most of the time, the twists are great– several come way out of left field (as in a ‘shit, wait what now?’ sense not a ‘pole vaulting the shark’ sense), and the explanation for the twist is usually also a twist.  Twists in twists in twists.  Good times.

The problem comes in at the very end of the game, after you’ve made your final big decision.  The big bad hath been vanquished, and there are only one real question left on the plot:
Why the hell where the Faith’s and Lily’s heads left on the doorstep to The Forrest?

Nerissa beckons Bigby over and we get the last bit of information– she was the one to leave the heads out for Bigby to find, so that he’d start investigating the murders, and eventually take down the Crooked Man.  And, one more twist, we find out that Nerissa lied at the mob hearing– she never actually heard the Crooked Man give the order, she just hated his guts.  She walks away, the player realizing that Nerissa was manipulating Bigby to strike back at the Crooked Man for killing her friends, bread-crumbing hints when leads got cold and generally doing everything she could to get her revenge.

It’s a great last twist, wrapping up the plot details while showing a side of a character we hadn’t seen before.  The problem is, it’s not the last little twist.

Nerissa leaves the overhang with the same parting words Faye gave Bigby at the start, “You’re not as bad as everyone says you are.”  This triggers a spurt of memory magic in Bigby, as he remembers pretty much every line he’s had with both Nerissa and Faith, and also the fact that we have a dangling plot thread in Faith’s body– the Dr. Swineheart had it last, but no one has checked up on his autopsy of it as other things took precedence.

The game never says it, but at this point it’s heavily implied that Faith and Nerissa were glamoured as each other at one point, and it’s one of them is walking away from you and the other is dead, and the one that’s alive is the same one that interacted with you at the start of the game.

Or, even more mindfucky, the Nerissa we’ve been interacting with _is_ Faith, and the little mermaid was never in this story.  The dead girl was a prop, glamoured to look like Faith and Faith then glamoured herself to look like Nerissa and has been leading you on ever since.

All of these things are over the top, and silly.  Mostly because it doesn’t matter.  So what if the girls played swapsies?  One of them is still dead via ribbon decapitation and the other is a master of deception.  We already knew that.

If this is just a cliffhanger (what did Bigby realize? OMG!!11!!!) to lead into the next game, it’s a silly one.  We have enough characters to use as introductory elements to any game– Snow, Beauty, Beast, King Cole, etc– we don’t need to add some extra layer to an already very complex and layered character.  Let Nerissa/Faith breathe, and go make someone else more complicated.

All in all, it takes a masterful ending (they could have even used that cool noir fade-to-black-esque trope with the damsel in distress walking away) and then tries to add one more twist as either a ‘gotcha’ or as a lead in, and it totally doesn’t need that.  The entire game is structured around episodes and seasons anyway, and there is still so much more of Fabletown to see (why does everyone hate the Farm?  Does it really suck that much?), we don’t need a breadcrumb to grab the next game.

So, you know, don’t do that.  I’m all for ambiguous endings, but if you want to play it that way, make the ambiguity very important to the narrative– Inception is a good modern example.

The other case is that we get this weird scene because we never do figure out what happened with Faith’s body.  If that’s why you’re writing something like this, then stop.  You don’t have to resolve every plot thread.  You can let some hang.   That’s ok.  Real life doesn’t give us nice, clean, perfect resolutions.  Let the minor stuff be ambiguous.  If it really becomes an issue for your fanbase, then you just found yourself a sequel.  Congrats.

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The Mortality Rate of Disney Parents

There is an off-joked about trend in Disney movies– if you happen to have helped give birth to a protagonist, you better get your will in order.

The number of Disney protagonists with two surviving parents is probably less than a tenth of the cannon*.  I could come up with only a few examples– Rapunzel’s parents in Tangled are around to watch their daughter grow up (although they aren’t really part of the narrative at all), and, um.  uh.  I had another example I was going to use, but forgot it mid sentence.

It’s not very many, is the point.  If you ever see both parents, you can set your watch on the fact that one of them is going to die before the credits roll.  Sometimes, the movie’s gotta troll first (Did you know that Bambi nearly kills the mother twice before she finally gets shot?  It’s almost frustrating to watch), other times they’re just never around and no one bothers explaining why (Beauty and the Beast), or they’ve passed away before the movie begins (Cinderella, Princess and the Frog).

I always thought this was a weird quirk, but never bothered looking into it.  One, because I’m not a parent and actual parents are already doing a great job handling parents in Disney and two, because I didn’t think it was that important.  Parents are hard to write, and if they aren’t needed for character motivation, just hand wave them.  Disney movies are stories about children, no one wants to see adult life.**

Well… protagonist age has increased as Disney has gotten older.  Snow White is a terrifying 7 in the Brother’s Grimm tale, and Disney aged her (in the 40s) to the much more mature 14-ish, which is better but deep in the land of “Seriously?!”

In contrast, Anna is 18 during most of the action of Frozen and Elsa is 21.   My little brother is younger than the protagonists of a movie that is ostensibly marketed to people younger than him.  Disney movies are happening to older and older people– so, you know, these aren’t entirely stories about children anymore.  Hell, at the rate we’re going, maybe we’ll have a Disney movie about a parent soon.

What I’m trying to get at is that Disney movies are growing up with the audience that fell in love with them.  And part of that is that we can’t just ignore parents– but, after starting to write my own Disney film, I can say with confidence that we will, and here is why:

Fairy tale parents are insane.

We’re adapting The Twelve Dancing Princesses, which only references one parent, the father.  Fine, I guess, considering that have 12 children with one woman seems like… well, painful, so the King was probably had a kid or four out of wedlock and we’d want to leave that to a humorous quip, if we bring it up at all.

Fine.  However, upon realizing his children are sneaking somewhere every night, the King’s reaction is, “Better put a bounty on my daughters!”

Look, I don’t have kids, but I get the feeling that that is pretty awful parenting.  Reconciling that with anything is just… it’s hard.  Think about the levels of father/daughter trust failure that need to happen:

1) The daughters need to decide that it’s better to sneak out than ask their father, or else the King would know that dancing was the reason why the shoes were worn down every night, he just wouldn’t know where.
2) The king asks his daughters what’s going on, and they’re so afraid of him that they refuse to tell him, despite the fact that the act of dancing doesn’t seem to impair them in any way.
3) Instead of trying to get to know his children better and earn their trust, the king hires a PI/compels the police to figure this problem out.
4) Upon that failure, the King still decides that random people just living in the kingdom are his best bet.  Rather than, you know, talking to his children.

And he’s a king, not a low-functioning alcoholic!  To make matters tricker, most of what I’ve written for Luna factors on the king being a competent ruler, as she struggles to find the courage to fill his shoes.  This man clearly can not exist… but he does and I have no idea how to write it.

What do?

Well, actually, the solution so far has been pretty easy– pull a Dumbledore.  Dumbledore doesn’t actually do a whole lot in the early Harry Potter books.  He kinda just delivers exposition and ties up loose plot threads.  Sure, he’s a powerful wizard, and his knowledge and ability probably would have saved some Hogwarts’ student’s lives, but he’s always just unable to help for whatever reason.  The King is our Dumbledore, at least at this point in this draft.

So far (and we’re about 20 pages in) the King has not actually shown up.  We see a lot of advisors to the king, but the man himself is kinda like this mythical creature that we never really show.  By keeping the king an arms length away from the action– he’ll always be just unable to help, Luna can both idolize her father and her father can be a horrid parent at the same time.

If we never bring attention to it in the narrative, hopefully the slight of hand will work– viewers will remember the king for how the other characters see him, rather than by his actions.  Just like early book Dumbledore.

The other option is to highlight the fact that the king is an isolated, shitty parent because the kids were primarily raised by mom.  But, we don’t want to point attention there either, because, you know, 1 parent, 12 children.  Ouchies.

Also, by writing a blog post about it, I totally kill the magic.  I’m a wizard that reveals how the trick works before showing you the trick.  Thank god this is just a rough draft.

*This ended up sparking a lively debate with some friends.  We’ve so far come up with 6 out of the 52 movies in Disney’s main animated canon where the parents live.  I’m also being unfair– many Disney movies feature protagonists that can’t have parents without it getting weird (Wreck-It Ralph, for example).  However, in a lot of movies where the parents are around, they get forced away from the action, either because of the plot (Mulan) or because they really subscribe to Laissez-Fare parenting (Peter Pan).   In, eh, about half of these films, the plot breaks down if the parents happen to be great parents– Wendy would never want to run away if her father hung out with her more in Peter Pan, and if Herc’s foster parents in Hercules were able to integrate Herc into society better, there goes that movie.

Essentially, successful parenting undoes the basic framing of a Disney movie– going on an adventure to learn a moral, because that moral would have been passed down along with some really awkward Dad joke.**

**However, all of this is kinda moot because 101 Dalmatians exists.

This title will be written as soon as I get off TV Tropes

Disclaimer: TV Tropes is one of the more notorious black holes on the Internet.  A common tale of woe told around monitors is that of a man who goes to TV Tropes and the next thing he knows is it’s a week later and he’s got Cheetos stains on everything.  You have been warned.  I’m a professional– don’t browse TV Tropes at home kids.  It’s dangerous.

Things that you run into when you write any type of fiction: tropes.

Defined by the authority on tropes, TV Tropes:   “Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members’ minds and expectations.  On the whole, tropes are not clichés.”

A cliché is a trope gone to far– one that’s been done to death and back and no one wants to hear that bit again.  However, even the most trite and overused tropes often get reinvented to add fresh air to an old concept– we’re still telling damsel in distress stories, after all, but in modern fiction (or, I should say, good modern fiction– trashy dollar store novels will use every hack in the book) it’s rare to see the textbook example.  Everyone has read that textbook already, thank you.

So, to understand our source material a little better, I browsed through its entry on TV Tropes.  I was saddened to find out that TDP isn’t a trope namer for any tropes, nor is it the first example of any trope.

Several tropes can get thrown out as unimportant– the fact that TDP, in the version we’re basing things off of, has no named characters is nice, but irrelevant.  Disney movies have characters with names.

Per our preliminary notes, we’re already including a big, fancy castle, massive numbers of siblings, a protagonist that starts out pretty poor and some sort of dance.  I’m currently scribbling down on a notepad what the basic consequences of having these sorts of tropes does to the narrative and characters.  For example, seeing that large families these days are kinda rare, and households are having less and less children,  how did it happen that a political figure in the far future has twelve daughters?

Magic?  Strange political reasons?  Really bad luck?  Taking advice from rabbits?

Aside: Oh my god, I want to write that scene where the king, is his awkward youth, gets dating/relationship advice from a magical talking rabbit.  I’m giggling just picturing that.  Probably doesn’t fit into our story or target audience, but still.  *snicker*

I’m not looking for a particularly compelling reason, or a rational one, or even one that I’m going to explicitly point to.  Just food for thought.  Another one:  Dancing might be pretty rare, so it helps the princesses motivations along– they love dancing (get it from their mother) but this is the year 20XX.  No one dances anymore.  It’s a dying art.

Other things to look at are tropes that have become clichés (but weren’t done to death when the tale was written down) that we’re going to want to subvert or ignore.  Everything isn’t better with a traditional princess, but I’m hoping to subvert that a bit.  Personally, I’d like to bring out the political side of being next in line.  The royalty in our story, I think, is going to hold actual political power, and Luna (and probably the next oldest, Zorya) are going to be expected to rule themselves one day.

That’s a heavy responsibility– it’s like being the President, but you can’t blame things not working on congress.  Being a princess is not all fun and games and being frail and waiting for a white knight– that doesn’t feed people.  Ruling feeds people.

There are several tropes in TDP that I hadn’t considered at all before looking over the tropes page.  In the tale, the princesses evade getting caught through slipping drugs in wine to put the people sent to find them to sleep.  The protagonist gets around this with some discrete drink disposal.

Even though I haven’t really thought about it, we can throw some quiet nods to both tropes all in two scenes.  Maybe in our version of the tale, our protagonist (who’s name is Ivan, by the way), is the first person to try and figure out what the princesses are doing every night and one of them comes up with a knee jerk reaction to roofie him.

Our protagonist evades the ruse with the help of his animal sidekick, or his robotic arm (preliminary notes put Ivan as a cyborg.  And of course he has a sidekick, this is a Disney movie) and the tale goes on as normal.  I don’t know how important exactly the drugged drink is, but it is very important to note that the princesses do not want to be caught.

This helps tie into our already established themes about Luna– she starts the tale so resistant to leave the nightly dancing that she’ll resort to chemical warfare to keep things the way they are.  By the end of the story, she’s the catalyst of change.

Other things we haven’t covered at all– the hero in the fairy tale gets help from a magical shady lady in a forest.  I, personally, kinda dislike this trope.  It’s a derivative of Deus ex Machina, which came about because the ancient Greeks sometimes wrote themselves into a plot holes and were kinda lazy (I think.  It’s been a few years since I had to sit through an ancient Greek lit class).  Unless we decide the story needs it, I’d be more than happy to never touch on this facet of the tale, and let Ivan win his battles on his own.

Ok, two more.

First– the ubiquitous rule of three shows up in TDP– the protagonist has three days to figure out where the princesses are going every night before he gets murdered by the king.  His first two trips down to the hidden underground castle are pretty much the same, his last time down there has a twist.  The twist, at least in TDP, is rather minor– the solder takes an extra cup along with him for proof to show the king.  I almost want to ignore the pattern outright, but it’s such a common fairy tale rhythm that not using it feels wrong. Repetition is a tricky beast in stories– amazingly powerful when done right, but boring as hell when done wrong.

Finally, the fairy tale does do a bit of subversion– the youngest child doesn’t win.  However, the youngest princess is totally onto the protagonist the entire time he’s spying on the princesses.  You get the feeling he chooses the oldest as a bride because she’s a few light bulbs short of a full set and he knows he can outwit her.  However, we want people to leave the theater with Luna as a confident princess, ready to take on the throne.  What do?

Well, rather than just ignoring the subversion, I think we can play homage to it.  Cassiopeia (our youngest princess) can find the evidence that starts Luna’s change of heart, thus keeping true to the spirit of both characters, while still letting us focus on the older one without making her kinda dumb.

This helps add dramatic tension as well– Cass doesn’t know the gravity of the evidence she brings to Luna (or even that it’s a bad thing), and when Luna uses it as a reason to stop the dancing, Cass can naturally resist, rebel and ultimately feel like it’s her fault for pushing her sister away.

Awww, yeah.  Just what I like in my fictional characters– development and personality.  Damn gurl, you look fiiiiine with all that character.

Treasure Planet, Women’s Restrooms and Keanu Reeves

So, another Disney film we’ve recently watched is Treasure Planet, because in order to appropriate some sunshine, you need some rainy days.

No, actually, we watched it because Treasure Planet is one of two Disney films that has science fiction-y elements, and we have some rough plans for science fictiony things maybe.

And, Treasure Planet is… well, it’s one of the weaker Disney films.  It’s not, say, Dinosaur bad, but it’s not particularly good either.  It tanked really hard and it is up to us to figure out why!

I haven’t read the source material for Treasure Planet (the novel Treasure Island) in a very long time.  That being said, I want to say that this is one of the most spot on adaptations of a Disney film.  There are scenes lifted from the novel and transplanted directly into the film.  I’m pretty sure the romance between the good doctor (whose name I can’t remember) and the captain (whose name I can’t remember) was added on, but that’d be about it.

So, it is pretty accurate as far as adaptations go (Disney has strayed far further away from source material).  It also looks beautiful.  The space port reveal shot is animated scenery porn, and not the bargain bin brand either.  The world the story takes place in is actually rather awesome.  I like space pirates, the way they travel through the galaxy is cool.  The score is… acceptable (it’s not obtrusive, at any rate).

So, where does the movie go wrong?  Well, lets talk for one more second about where the movie goes right, before we break into it’s glaring flaws, which really all stem from one pivotal problem.

The supporting cast is (for the most part) decent.  I can’t remember names, because I suck with names, but the captain, the doctor, the cyborg– all of these people have personality.  They have quirks, flaws, conflicts– I’d go drinking with them.  They aren’t phenomenal characters, but they have enough personality to sell me.  I can believe in them.  They even have some character growth– falling in love, or realizing they have a soft side, etc.

The same can not be said about our protagonist, Jim.  But that’s because Jim is supposed to be me, or rather I’m supposed to project myself unto Jim and become Jim.  What I’m trying to say is that Jim is the Keanu Reeves of animation, and Keanu Reeves is the uncanny valley of acting.

That paragraph made no sense, I’m gonna take a few steps back.  And to do that, we need look at a graphic novel called Understanding Comics, or alternatively, a Cracked After Hours episode.  Another alternative reading would be Revealing Phantasms, depending on how into academic reading you are.

The basic idea is that we can rate all art on a scale.  On one end is the Mona Lisa, on the other end is the women’s bathroom sign.  Both these ends have merit, because they both represent characters.

The Mona Lisa is a fully-fleshed out character.  People have written comics featuring her (The Far Side comes to mind), we’ve written fan fiction on her backstory (I’m assuming that it exists on the Internet), academics have done historical research into who she was.  However, despite her personality, there is something that the Mona Lisa can’t do– she can’t be you.

Which is something the sign on the woman’s bathroom totally does.  It’s because the sign is so generic– any female (ok, ok: female in the society/culture in which the bathroom sign exists.  Don’t send me hate mail) intrinsically knows that the little stick person in a dress is her.  That sign means that she can go in the special room.  And that stick person in a dress does this for hundreds of millions of people, every day, all the time.

That little stick person has no character.  She has no personality.  Her face is a neutral mask; she’s a hollow shell of a character, which sounds like another protagonist I saw recently–

Neo

No wait, I mean–

Jim-Hawkins-Treasure-planet-disney-35597000-640-960

Outside of the cheapshot on Keanu, what he’s doing makes some sense.  It’s the same strategy that Twilight took– and one of the reasons Twilight got so popular.  Bella doesn’t have a personality, she’s a hollow shell that we’re supposed to project ourselves into so we can live out whatever vampire fantasies we happen to have.

Neo is playing the same role, but the fantasy we’re supposed to live out is different.  In The Matrix, the fantasy is all about being special, about having some unique knowledge and ability that no one else has.  Keanu is bland and emotionless because we, as viewers, are supposed to treat his emotions like a fill in the blank problem.  How do you feel when fighting your robot overlords?  Great, that’s how Neo feels.

And, I think, that’s what Treasure Planet  was going for with Jim.  Jim doesn’t get a lot of dialogue, really.  He rarely talks about himself or his backstory.  His one point of character development is during a montage with the Goo Goo Dolls, in which the main chorus is something along the lines of “Yeah, I’m still here”.  Whelp.

Jim’s backstory can be summed up with “shit happened, but I’m still kicking”, which is probably the most genetic backstory ever.  Anyone, even someone who is rich beyond belief, can identify with that.

Jim’s minimal character arc is basically him discovering that he’s awesome.  But, twist, he was awesome the entire time.  Just like you, random viewer!  You’re awesome.  And you know it. Go you.

The problem is that we don’t watch Disney movies for the the same reason we watch Fast and Furious XVI.  (My years of playing Final Fantasy have trained me to always use roman numerals when referring to sequels.)  Disney probably took the neutral mask protagonist approch because they were adapting a swashbuckling, action story.  But we don’t watch Disney movies for that– we watch Disney movies because of the characters.  Why has Frozen done so well?  Elsa is a brilliant character (also, the soundtrack).  The Little Mermaid?  I’d hope you aren’t projecting onto Ariel, because Ariel is kinda dumb.  However, being optimistically dumb is a pretty strong character trait (and it even makes sense in context, considering Ariel’s privileged upbringing).

Not all Disney movies have done this, some of them have used the blank mask (Snow White I’m looking at you).  But, when you look at the most successful Disney movies (from a make all the money perspective), none of them have had a blank mask protagonist.  Fairy Tales in general do not have blank mask protagonists– they don’t develop a lot of character (because they have like, three lines of text to do so), but fairy tale characters have their own sort of charm.  They’re a bit absurd.

Also, writing a blank face protagonist doesn’t sound fun.

So, safe to say, this is not a tactic we will be using.  Disney has used it (more often than you’d expect), but despite its usefulness, I’d like my Disney movie to be a bit more than the lady on bathroom doors.

I’m vain, whatup.

Adaptations– the Art of Removing the Icky Bits

I love Tangled.  Straight up, its one of my favorite Disney movies of all time.  I think I’ve re-watched Tangled more than any other Disney movie.  This probably does not paint me in a positive light.  Whatever.

I’ve been working through Grimm’s fairy tales, I obviously bumped into ye olde version of Rapunzel, the fairy tale that Tangled is based off of.

And depending on the version you read, because kings are never given names and sometimes editors like to throw ‘the’ instead of ‘a’, the fairy tale can read like Game of Thrones.  But none of the epic dragon bits, or cool battles, or smart-ass midget– just the weird incest bits.

Oh, and the prince (who might be Rapunzel’s brother, maybe?) also gets stabbed in the eyes and wanders around blind for an unnumbered amount of years.  It doesn’t exactly scream “Disney magic”.

However, the important parts of the story still shine through in both adaptations.  Gothel steals Rapunzel away (movie: actual theft, fairy tale: part of deal) due to Rapunzel’s mother needing a plant (movie: so she doesn’t die, fairy tale: so she doesn’t die, with a side order of gorging herself on flowers).  Rapunzel is locked away in a hidden tower so her parents can’t take her back.

Both adaptations have the ‘let down your hair’ bit.  Rapunzel hoists Gothel up and down in both versions (still don’t know how anyone got in or out when Rapunzel was young).

However, our male lead is drastically different (we’re ignoring the weird maybe incest.  Oh, you were already ignoring it?  Good).  Both men fall in love with Rapunzel, however Flynn isn’t a prince, whereas our unnamed fairy tale hero is.

In the movie, this happens over the course of Rapunzel’s and Flynn’s adventures to go see floating lanterns.  Aside: I’m gonna assume floating lanterns are a lot cooler when fireworks haven’t been invented yet.

In the fairy tale, Rapunzel and unnamed prince totally get their mack on in the tower, several times while Gothel is away.  After Rapunzel leaves the tower in Tangled we get a lot of things that aren’t in the fairy tale.  However, the conclusion of the movie continues to remember the tale that it came from, Flynn does his best prince impression when he cries for Rapunzel to let down her hair.  Gothel, in both versions, lifts Flynn/the Prince up into the tower into a trap.

Rapunzel heals the male lead with her tears in both versions.  And both end with a happily ever after.

The fundamentals of the tale are the same in both versions.  The symbols are the same. Stuff happens in the same order. The parts that the movie does not include aren’t really needed to tell the story– instead of having Gothel transport Rapunzel to a desert and having the male lead fall out of the tower, go blind and wander around for a few years to find her, Gothel just gets her stab on and kills Flynn.  This sets the same scene, Rapunzel crying over the male lead’s body, a lot more efficiently.

Also, Rapunzel doesn’t have twins in the movie.  She totally does in the fairy tale, while she’s in a desert.  Yeah.  I’m gonna assume childbirth isn’t super Disney.  Things that are also not super Disney: a life in squalor while Rapunzel waits for her blind prince.

What does the movie add?  Character!  Most fairy tales aren’t long enough to really develop their characters.  Why would anyone fall for Repunzel anyway (outside of her voice, which is all we get from the brothers Grimm)?  Tangled tries to answer that.  Why would Gothel take Rapunzel away in the first place, what kind of flower is worth a child?  Disney movie.  What kind of person is willing to make that trade?  Disney movie.

And in making the characters more complex, some occupations changed.  The elements of magic where shifted from Gothel to Rapunzel.  However, the core symbols that everyone associates with the story stayed.

How do you know what are the core symbols of a fairy tale?  Great question!  Part of the reading I still need to do are several Rapunzel adaptations* from the YA section of the library.  Fairy tales have been adapted to death and back, so its a simple as identifying what every single adaptation keeps.

However, Shannon and I did talk a bit about this on Skype.  The rough consensus was that the core symbols of a fairy tale are those that jump to mind the moment you think of the fairy tale in question.  Hunchback  drastically changed its source material (I’m hazy because recalling details from the one time I tried to read the source material is like trying to recall the details of a suicide), I don’t think Phoebus even exists** in any capacity in the novel.  The core elements, however (a grotesque mockery of the human form falling in love with a woman who skirts on the outside of civilized society), remain.

And I seriously doubt any version of anything would keep awkward-maybe-incest.  I’m sorry, I just can’t drop it.

*I picked out the books that had the most reviews on Goodreads that were covered in gifs.  I know how Tumblr works.  I’m on to you, YA romance readers.

** Turns out I am in fact a silly duck.  From someone who does remember the Hunchback novel better than I do:
“Phoebus actually totally does exist in the novel. The difference is that in the book he never changes sides.  Which is funny because Frollo does try to kill him, similarly to what happens in the movie. But he manages to frame Esmeralda for it.”
Thanks, Facebook friends!

Belle is a Bitch, and Gaston’s All Right: Beauty and the Beast’s Character Problems

As I mentioned in my Beauty and the Beast rewatch post, if you start to look too hard at the story, things really fall apart. This is doubly true for the characters.

Growing up, my Godfather would renlentlessly tease me about how Gaston was the hero. He would sing, “I want a guy like Gaston!” horribly off key. He would go on and on and on about how Gaston was noble, and the Beast was awful and deserved to die. As a smarty pants six year old, I would correct him and tell him that no, Gaston was the villain. However, as I grew up, I started to think, maybe Uncle Bob wasn’t so wrong.

Our perceptions of Beauty and the Beast’s character roles are establish by tone and the placement of the character. Beast is the first person we’re introduced to. We are told that he is a prince (all princes are obviously heroes) in disguise (and our hero has a problem), and the scene ends with the words “For who could ever learn to love a beast” ringing in our ears. Cut to Belle exiting her house. The answer to the question left from the narrator is answered visually, by a beautiful girl asking for a better life. This means, that when we met Gaston, the audience is forced to associate him as an antagonist. Belle must end up with the Beast, because the story dictated it.

Gaston is introduced with a gunshot and a dead bird. While there is nothing wrong with hunting, the way it’s presenting sets a dark tone around Gaston’s character. We see Gaston step from the shadows. Characters in shadows are associated as evil. Compile that with the image of Gaston killing a duck, we know that he can’t be up to any good. Then Gaston says, “I’m making plans to woo and marry Belle.” Now, he’s in conflict with what we know Belle must do. She must love/marry the Beast. Because of Gaston’s motive and his intro visuals, we assume that Gaston must be our villain.

But looking past the visuals and tones, when we look at the actions of the characters themselves, we get a different picture.

Belle is a Bitch. Oh, what? You don’t believe me? She’s the smart princess! And not vivacious, and a brunette! She’s totally the outcast. By those traits, she should be my favorite Disney princess (she’s not). But, when you really watch Beauty and the Beast, you start to notice something. Belle is a terrible person. Just take a moment and really watch “Belle’s” number:

“There must be more than this provencal life.” She wonders around basically singing about how much better she is than everyone else. That their normal lives, perfectly good lives, aren’t good enough for her. Then, because she can’t be interrupted reading, she kinda rampages through town. She fucks with someones sheep; she knocks someone out; and basically disrupts the entire towns morning. (And while the town people may think she’s odd, they are not mean towards her at all. In fact, they don’t seem to mind her fucking up their morning.)

But, Belle is smart because she reads! Yes, and so do Twihards. She reads the same book over and over.

“That one? But you’ve read it twice!”

“I know, it’s my favorite.”

If the librarian (because I refuse to call that place a bookstore) recognizes she keeps taking the same book, then, well, she’s taken it a whole lot. I’m an avid reader, and I have favorite books. But I don’t constantly re-read them.

We don’t really see her read anything else. Nor does she seem to reference her experience with some literary character, which bookish people do. Besides the opening scene, and an insert where we see her read to the Beast. She spends a great deal of time trapped, and she doesn’t ask for a book. What avid reader leaves the house without a book, or is stuck for several hours without looking for something, anything to read.

*As a side note, there’s this little gem. Belle describes her “favorite part because you’ll see.” Such an articulate reader huh?*

Then let’s just get to how rude she is throughout the majority of the movie. She rarely says please or thank you, even when people are doing nice things for her. She constantly disobeys orders. “Don’t go in the West Wing after my captor so nicely moved me from a jail cell to a suite? Nah…”  She talks back to the Beast and blames him after he saves her life because she was a dumb ass that ran out into the night.

Let’s look on that example for a minute. Belle offers herself up in exchange for her father. Then, when offered something better than a prison cell, she basically balks. The Beast tries to ask her to join him for dinner, and when she says no (which, really is quite stupid. She’s in this predicament herself, and it seems smart to get to know your captor, or you know, eat), he then demands her to join him. She doesn’t, yet doesn’t receive any real punishment from the Beast.

Then she and the servants continue to disobey Beast and make her a lavish dinner. Then she wonders through the castle, and decides, that instead of exploring the whole freaking thing, that she’ll go looking into the one place she expressly forbidden. I mean, she has a whole CASTLE, and on her first night, she goes where she isn’t suppose to go. Because, she’s a bitch. She didn’t look for an escape, like a rational person, nope, she goes into the dangerous place. As far as I can tell her motive is just to piss of the Beast. Then, when the Beast gets mad at her about it, she escapes the castle, breaking her sworn promise. (All right, so we know Belle isn’t worth her word for anything.)

Because really, she only made that promise she was bored. Yup. Boredom. After spending the entire opening of the film bitching about how boring her life is, she then takes the first opportunity for something new. It just happened to be something good, like saving her father. And to prove that it isn’t heart felt, she abandons her promise as soon as things get a little hard (because let’s be real, a fancy manor and free range at a castle isn’t really punishment). And later, when offered a similar choice (marry Gaston and save her father or refuse and dad is committed/imprisioned), she chooses to refuse. Because she never liked Gaston, and well, marrying him would be a prison to her. As much as she loves her dad, she loves herself more. Oh, and to top it off, because she can’t be wrong, she reveals the Beast, and basically starts the manhunt. I mean, come on Belle, use some common sense! You were frickin’ petrified of him like a week ago, why would this “provincial” townspeople, who are so below you, be any different?

So, yeah, her entire altruistic sacrifice is undermined.

Meanwhile, Gaston is actually not that bad. Ok, maybe he’s bad, but he’s completely understandable. Which is probably why he’s a great villain.

Yes, Gaston is chauvinistic. I’m not going to pretend otherwise. He has very clear cut ideas about the place of a woman in the world, that lines up very much with the time period of that movie. But before we get all high and mighty, look over at the Beast’s castle. Women don’t really have it much better their either. We have Belle, the prisoner and basically wife figure (who wouldn’t have to be in the kitchen cooking because she has servants), the Feather Duster and the maid and sexual object, and Mrs. Pott’s who works in the FUCKING KITCHEN and has to be the mother figure too! (And we don’t really even know what role Lumiere and Cogsworth play, though, they are probably more advisory than servantly.) She’s probably the nanny for all the damn castle babies. So yeah, women’s roles in Beauty and the Beast, no matter where they are aren’t particularly progressive. But Gaston is called the asshole because he just openly acknowledges it. At least I know where I stand with him instead of being given the false illusion I’m something more.

Yet, as chauvinistic as Gaston says, he actually proposes to Belle, and goes out of his way to make it special for her. In that time period, it would be totally legit for Gaston to completely bypass Belle and just get her father to marry her off. In real life, Maruice would have been honored to pass Belle off to Gaston because Gaston is the most respected and revered person in town. (Not to mention it doesn’t seem like Maurice is making a whole lot of money, and Belle is basically just an extra mouth to feed.) But, back to Gaston. Then he prepares an entire celebratory engagement party for her, with music and food and general happiness. So what if his ideals are antiqued to a modern woman, he show us that he’s actually quite romantic.

(And for the record, Belle doesn’t come out and say no, and when dealing with marriage proposals, that needs to be explicit. It’s probably because she knows that he’s probably her best option.)

Plus, after Belle publicly humiliates him with her rejection, Gaston goes on to be quite unhappy. He sulks over her. For all of his pig-headedness, he does seem to genuinely care for her. I mean, come on, he can have the hot triplets, but he chooses bitchy Belle. I do believe that he does genuinely love her, though, it may not be the Disney-ied true love we want our characters to end up with.

Which brings me to my next point: Gatson is kinda the town role model. He’s handsome, and he’s an excellent hunter. Gauging from how sharply dressed he is, he’s probably pretty well off. He’s the equivalent to of the modern day star quarter back. He has an entire number dedicated to his qualities: handsome, manly, the strongest, the best hunter, and he’s great at expectorating. So yea, totally the quarterback figure.

Let’s backtrack a little. I want to point out, that while Gaston seems to belittle women, it seems to be only with their role in society. He doesn’t actually hurt women, or is rude to them.  He doesn’t do that with anyone else in town, either. In fact, he is quite polite. In the opening number, Gaston constantly asks, “excuses me” and “please let me through,” and doesn’t shove anyone out of the way. In fact he goes out of his way to avoid causing anyone an inconvenience.

Besides his low opinion of women’s roles, and his high opinion of himself (which by society we are told are bad things), his only two “acts of villainy” are his plot with Maurice and his lynch mob. Both of which are totally understandable.

Let’s face it, Maurice is kinda crazy. I mean, he build a death contraption that cuts firewood. And to Gaston’s defense, he only conspires against Maurice after the guy storms into the bar and spouts crazy talk. While I wouldn’t say that it’s the best of plans, being nice didn’t seem to get Belle’s attention either. And really, is coercing Belle into being a wife really any worse than the Beast holding her prisoner? Yet, we forgive the Beast.

His second “trecherous” act is his ralleying against the Beast. Which, honestly, is a perfectly reasonable reaction. Belle shows him an image of a monster (which only Belle and the audience know isn’t so bad at this point). The Beast is howling, and kinda on a rampage in the castle. Gaston draws the conclusion that the monster that locked Belle away and is currently rampaging is a threat. Yup, it’s the same conclusion we drew at the beginning of the movie. If falls in line with the “crazy talk” Maurice was spewing earlier in the movie. So, while Gaston may have a deeper motive of jealousy, his initial motive isn’t unreasonable or villainous. I mean, the Beast did kinda hold Belle hostage, and Gaston loves her.

Ultimately, yes, Gaston is a villain of the movie. He is a villain because he doesn’t learn to look beyond the surface. His failure to the theme is ultimately what makes him the bad guy. Not so much his actions. And Belle is a hero because she fulfills the theme and sees the Beast as more than a monster. (I guess she does? She kinda doesn’t do anything.) Though, I’m not really sure she really learns to look beyond the surface, because she only sees the Beast (who a damn prince, which is obvious to deduce because he lives in a castle!) as better. Her conclusions don’t apply to anyone not magically enchanted. Still, the characters’s actions contrast with their roles. We praise Belle as a stuck up bitch, and villainize Gaston as the worst kind of human ever. The movie so successful uses visuals, tone, and score, our opinions of the characters are dictated by the direction of the story, not their personalities.

The Rewatch 2: A Critical Analysis of Beauty and the Beast

As I mentioned in my Mulan post, critical analysis of a movie is essential to scriptwriting and movie-making. There are lessons to be gathered from each and every movie. However, some highly acclaimed films really don’t hold up under scrutiny. Yet, are remembered as classic. Beauty and the Beast is one of them.

Technical Breakdown of Beauty and the Beast

(aka What Fails? The story.)

Act 1: Setting the fairy tale tone, a narrator tells us the exposition. There is an enchanted prince in the woods, who’s been turned into the beast. (Though, this is an effective example of when Telling vs. Showing works.) A ticking clock device is introduce, because the “Beast must learn to love by his 21st Birthday.” Then we meet Belle, who hates her life, establishing the Status-Quo with the musical number “Belle”. At this point our theme of Beyond the Surface is established. (We have the Beast, who is a prince in disguise; Belle, who is more than her “beauty;” and Gaston, who is handsome, but a bit of an ass, aka, not pretty.) Belle’s father, Maurice, heads off to some convention where he will show of his insane contraption (a set up). Meanwhile, Gaston proposes to Belle, which she refuses because she can’t bear the thought of being a housewife.  Of course, conveniently, her father’s horse shows up indicating that her father is missing, the inciting incident. She follows the horse to an abandoned castle, where she offers herself in exchange for her father, ending Act 1. (Note, there is only 1 musical number and its reprise in Act 1.)

Act 2: This first half of Act 2 goes: Belle and the Beast do not get along and culminating in Belle escaping the castle. This is expressed in a series of events where Belle flat out ignores the Beast’s demands. (“Be Our Guest” is part of the servants participation in Belle’s rebellion.) When Belle flees, the Beast goes after her, saving her from a pack of wolves. Belle returns to the castle, and she and the Beast begin again.

Because she saved him from the wolves, the Beast has “fallen in love with her,” and their relationship is developed through the number, “Something There.” Meanwhile, Gaston broods because of  her rejection (“Gaston” musical number), and devises a plan to coerce Belle into marrying him. Back at the Enchanted Castle, the Beast experiences a blooming scene, just before the number “Beauty and the Beast,” as he is transformed from monster to prince. I think the subplot involves the servants’ desire to be human, though, their number “When We’re Human Again” is cut. (Or perhaps the subplot is Gaton looking to marry Belle, and his scheming to get Maurice committed? Or could it be there is no subplot?) I think the Beast’s low point, or Dark Night of the Soul, happens when Belle leaves the Beast to nurse her father. Once home, Gaston confront Belle and tries to have her father committed, offering her a parallel of the Beast’s offer in Act 1. She refuses, and reveals the Beast lives outside of the town. Gaston rallies the town, and Act 2 ends with “The Mob Song.” (Interesting note, I’m not sure there is A Point of No Return in this movie. At no time do I feel that Belle couldn’t return home. I mean, she does. She goes home to her father, and I’m not sure she would have gone back to the beast.) With the exception of “Belle” and the “Beauty and the Beast” reprise, all songs exist in Act 2.

(And yes, Belle, this is all your fault.)

Act 3: Before Gaston leaves, he traps Belle and her father in their cellar. Meanwhile, the beast has given up hope, as the town folk invade his castle. His servants defend it bravely. Belle is saved by chip, the teacup who I believe functions as the voice of the audience, and her father’s madcap invention (almost a Dues Ex Machina). She reaches the castle, inspiring the beast to fight back. The Beast and Gaston battle it out on the castle eaves, ending in both the Beast and Gaston’s death. Also, the ticking clock runs out at the same time. Belle’s love, breaks the spell, and revives the Beast as  Prince. And they live happily ever after. (Or so we believe.) Also note, there is a musical reprise of “Beauty and the Beast” just before the movie ends.

The movie employees several Disney staples: the comic relief companion, though not an animal, but rather magical household items;  a distinctive setting (France); a magical element; and a hybrid musical. While these elements are utilized, they are not utilized so well.

The companions aren’t used to their full advantage, and often, are used to progress the plot forward because neither central character will. They have a blatant disregard for their master (letting Maurice into the castle and starting the whole affair, plus the entire number of “Be Our Guest”), and their motives are entirely selfish. Without them, there would be no story, yet, their choices feel like they are driven by plot rather than character.

The movie is set in France as a nod to more popular renditions of the story. Also, I believe it’s also because it’s heavily influenced by Cocteau’s Le Belle et Le Bete. I mean, come on, the Beasts look the same!

Beauty and the Beast is very basic in story. In fact, I would say that it’s not a fairy tale adaptation or retelling, but just another iteration of the story. It’s like a moving picture book. Disney’s version doesn’t really add new elements, or manipulate existing elements to tell a complex, compelling story. It doesn’t use the story as a basis for something bigger. I’m not even sure if it’s a modernization since it’s set in a historic setting with chauvinistic ideals. It is nothing more than the tale.  

Most of the plot is moved forward because, well, if they didn’t there wouldn’t be a movie. Belle is a static character, unless you define her change as “falling in love.” We need outside influences, the servants, to make things happen. There are more plot holes than Swiss cheese (the 10 year curse, a random prince in the woods*), but, we still buy into the movie. We are emotionally charged when Gaston storms the castle. But why?

What Works: The sound and animation.

First, I’m just going to get this out of the way. Beauty and the Beast is a beautifully animated film. It’s gorgeous. The design is stunning. Colors are utilized awesomely. Johnathan pointed out that blues and oranges are used to compliment the differences between town and castle. The characters well animated. It’s just lovely.

But it’s the sound of the movie that pulls at people’s heart strings. The score is so complex, and well crafted. It uses swells to manipulate the audience into feeling what’s going on in the scene instead of actually paying attention. The musical numbers are memorable, and fill in the emotional gaps the poor scripting leaves.

Even the voice actors deliver amazing performances with subpar lines. Belle says horrible things, all the time, but because her voice is calm and lovely, we ignore them. The beast’s transformation has more to do with line delivery than his character’s action. We know he’s changed because we hear it in his voice.

Beauty and the Beast is what makes fairy tales timeless. It’s why we keep retelling these stories generation after generation. Disney’s film, reminds us that sometimes, we can get away with bad writing if we can invoke strong emotions and have good muisc. Even with all things consider, it’s still a milestone in cinema (refer to the picture earlier in the post).

It also serves as a reminder that this isn’t what we want in our script. We want to do something more. We want an adaption. Yet, Beauty and the Beast serves as a reminder not to forget about the emotional pull a magical tale can have.

*As a side note, I came up with a justification for why the Prince Beast lives in the woods and the town doesn’t know. He’s a middle/younger son who lives in his own chateau. Since he’s in no position to gain the throne, well, no one would pay attention to him, and he really wouldn’t have any jurisdiction over the town. Also, that would be why he’s a prince, not a king. Johnathan suspects that he was such an ass of a child, his parents didn’t want to deal with him, hence, why a ten year old would be left parent-less.

Multiculturally Ambushed

A lot of people will tell you that the starting point is the worst, because you have no idea what to do with just a blank page in front of you.

I dunno about all of that.  Blank pages have a lot of opportunity.  You actually can’t mess up a blank page, its only after you’ve gotten a little ways into a project that you start to realize it’s awful.

And, as we started to compile the list of potential fairy tales, we had a pretty blank page of opportunity.  A friend suggested that we look beyond the brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen and look at folktales that don’t usually make it to Disney’s typical audiences.  She suggested some Japanese folktales to look at.

I was all for this idea, mostly because I didn’t realize exactly how many fairy tales we have floating around in English, (Oscar Wilde made a book of fairy tales.  Oscar.  Wilde.) nor did I realize how many adaptations of various fairy tales exist.

In related news, I’m about to raise all kinds of alarms at the local library when I check out most of their YA romance section.  Again.  Luckily, I still look like I’m 16.  Also, that is probably the only time I will ever type that sentence.

Anyway, I started reviewing some more popular Japanese folk tales, and things started out tame enough.  I had even added a few I liked to the list potential candidates.  I made a sub-folder of kitsune myths to sort through later, and found some pretty good summaries of The Tale of Genji.  And then I ran into tanuki.

I wasn’t ready for tanuki.  Or rather, I wasn’t ready for their massive testicles.  Let me clarify– massive magical shape shifting testicles.

And the blog is no longer family safe.
And the blog is no longer family friendly.

This is a thing that exists.  And it existed before the Internet.  A few more searches using my patented process of “skimming the first page of Google” have shown that they are popular image in culture, often seen hanging in shops and places that I’d assume children would pass by.

I also have to assume that they all show off the massive testicles, because it was disturbingly hard to find images without massive testicles.  Then again, my primary source of tanuki information is from other WordPress blogs that have authors who I hope are less lonely than they look.

Also, this goes to show that my Disney knowledge isn’t perfect.  I have not seen Studio Ghibli’s movie Pom Poko, in which tanuki play a part.  From a screenshot I could find, it looks like a pack (is that the right collective noun for raccoon-dog-ish creatures?) is either flying or skydiving with their scrota*.

So, I had to cross tanuki off the list.  Not from the imagery, but because Disney had already gone there.

*I had to Google the plural of scrotum.  I didn’t have safe search on.  I’ve officially suffered for art.

Why don’t we write like this anymore?

Ok, so a big part of trying to write Disney’s next fairy tale based blockbuster, is to, you know, pick a fairy tale.  And it turns out, there are a lot of fairy tales.  While we’re still trying to get logistics worked out– like how to get online to write a blog post and not reread all of XKCD (that may be mostly my problem)– Shannon polled a collection of friends for some fairy tales they always wanted to see as Disney movies.

The response was pretty great.  I decided to try the same thing with some of my friends.  They asked me if the Windows 2000 operating system manual counted.  That line of inquiry was quickly dropped.

At any rate, I’ve been reading down the tales I could track down easily (read as: find on the first page of Google when searching “[fairy tale title] original fairy tale”), and I have a very important question.

Why, in the name of all things good and grand, did we stop writing like this?

For example, take this excerpt from The Juniper Tree:
“Then the mother took the little boy and chopped him in pieces, put him into the pot, and cooked him into stew. But Marlene stood by crying and crying, and all her tears fell into the pot, and they did not need any salt.

Then the father came home, and sat down at the table and said, “Where is my son?” […]

Then he said, “Wife, this food is delicious. Give me some more.” And the more he ate the more he wanted, and he said, “Give me some more. You two shall have none of it. It seems to me as if it were all mine.” And he ate and ate, throwing all the bones under the table, until he had finished it all.”

Is that not the most chilling thing you’ve read all week?  In less than two paragraphs, about 6 sentences, the brothers Grimm have lived up to their last name.   It’s not only that a father ate his son, its that he ate his son and liked it to the point of not feeding his remaining child or wife.  Steven King doesn’t even write that dark.

Sometimes, the text his hilarious, as in Hansel and Gretel:
“The old woman had only pretended to be so kind; she was in reality a wicked witch, who lay in wait for children, and had only built the little house of bread in order to entice them there. When a child fell into her power, she killed it, cooked and ate it, and that was a feast day with her.  Witches have red eyes, and cannot see far, but they have a keen scent like the beasts, and are aware when human beings draw near.”

Oh.  Well, that would have made that entire witch burning sequence in Monty Python and the Holy Grail take a lot less time.  Also, thinking about old ladies being an entire separate genus and species away from homo sapiens is funny.  You think witches are descendant from monkeys as well, or do they come from, say, parasitic eels?  The fact that the eels are blind might explain the poor eyesight.

Also, I love how the text is so mater of fact.  Everyone already knows that witches have red eyes, for the love of– stop asking bad questions, Jimmy.

From The Nightingle:
“But when he came to the words, “the nightingale is the most beautiful of all,” he exclaimed, “What is this? I know nothing of any nightingale. Is there such a bird in my empire? and even in my garden? I have never heard of it. Something, it appears, may be learnt from books.”

Oh, snap, son!  There was a point to all that book-learnin’ nonsense in school after all!  Awwww, yeah.  Book throw down!  Boom!

Also, of note, is the extra special opening (this is the first sentence):
“In China, you know, the emperor is a Chinese, and all those about him are Chinamen also.”

Thanks for clearing that up.  I wasn’t aware.  Also, you get an extra star for probable racist connotations, if I can find one… I can’t.  Sorry.  You want a homophobic rainbow instead?

I’m not just pointing out these quips in language to make fun of them, however.  Fairy tales are short.  Really short.  I’ve read longer poems (and I’m not cheating and talking about The Odyessy).  As such, if we’re going to adapt a fairy tale, we’re going to need to draw inspiration from every line and really wring the tale out to dry.  Even these bizarre lines matter.

Sure, the father eating his son is very over the top, but that gives us indication on tone.  The Juniper Tree is an over the top fairy tale.  Perhaps its silly that the witch is described as a some sort of exotic creature, but if we were to adapt Hansel and Gretel, by that line alone I would argue the witch, as a villain, would sit closer to the Horned King than the Evil Stepmother.  In The Nightingale, we get an interesting point about the world.  The Emperor likes books, most of his court does not.  That’s a quirk of the setting.

But yeah, I’m just making fun of the Chinamen line.  How can you possibly not?

Addendum:
I actually had this post sitting around for a few days to help keep a steady flow of blog posts rather than lump a bunch at once.  I read this bit from The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids, after writing the above post:

“And when the baker had rubbed his feet over, he ran to the miller and said, strew some white meal over my feet for me. The miller thought to himself, the wolf wants to deceive someone, and refused, but the wolf said, if you will not do it, I will devour you. Then the miller was afraid, and made his paws white for him. Truly, this the way of mankind.”

Amen.

Once Upon A Time…

Disney Animation Studios released a movie called Frozen.  And it was pretty good.  But it also contained a character called Olaf the Snowman, and that character was really bad.  It also had a lame villain that it didn’t need, and beneath Elphaba’s belting, there were serious cracks in an otherwise very good movie.

Now, in the land where this movie was made, there was a lad, named Johnathan, of about 20 and some odd years, who had always been taught by his father the most important lesson of all: “Always bet on back.”  But the boy’s father also taught him, “Put your money where your mouth is.”

And this boy sometimes fashioned himself a writer.  After he had seen Frozen, he got out one of his most treasured possessions, the iPhone 4S, and sent a magical text message to a friend.  It went as such:

Ok, I doctored it slightly to cut out my response. The important bit is "We should tho'."

For, you see, the boy had a friend, named Shannon, a girl of 20 and some odd years, who actually knew something about writing and film making.  And the friend also shared the boys concerns about Frozen.  And the friend was also, perhaps, a bit crazy.

And so, the quest began: the pair would write the screenplay to Disney’s next fairy tale movie.  This is their blog.  This is why normal adults stop believing in magic.