, 24 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
Here's the thing about people objecting to recastings of fairy tales with non-white, or disabled, or otherwise reimagined protagonists: they know little and care less about the long, cross-cultural and robust history of those tales.
(I'm leaving side the racism inherent in their reactions for the moment, because it's so screamingly obvious in every tweet they make, and other people have demolished their claims of "I'm not a racist but..." far more effectively than this white woman could. #morepowertothem )
Back to fairy/folk tales. It's not just white fragility on display here, although god knows... it's a fundamental ignorance & lack of damn respect for humanity's capacity for telling stories about the human condition that transcend johnny-come-lately artificial racial categories.
I wrote my masters thesis on fairy tale retellings for teenagers. I focused on one author, Donna Jo Napoli, but there are thousands of these books and I read a lot of them, plus a shitload of theory and research on fairy tales and folklore, the role they play in human society...
and on children's & teens' responses to them. My interest was in the 2nd wave feminist criticism of the tales that many of us inherited as the final word on why they were bad and damaging, especially for girls, and why, if this were true, do we as humans, and women in particular,
FEMINIST women at that, feel compelled to continually revisit them and reimagine them for new generations. I also had a great big whack of narrative theory in there, because I wanted to understand how these stories, apparently misogynistic in their DNA, can be reimagined from a
feminist point of view, yet remain recognisably themselves. I am sure my argument was very flawed in many ways, although what really interested me to discover that the most influential of those 2nd wave critiques were not about the literary or collected stories, but in fact
almost entirely in response to the DISNEY retellings from the 1930s through to the 1950s, which were, of course, entirely a product of their time and capitalist/sexist culture. One of the most famus 2nd wave critiques was even called One Day My Prince Will Come, for godssakes.
Nevertheless, the argument (the author was a sociologist, not a literature academic) was applied unchallenged to the literary and collected tales as if they carried the identical tropes and ideologies of the movies, They don't, not entirely.
Anyway, here's my point: what I felt in my gut and was borne out to me from my research was that these stories are completely robust enough to withstand pretty much any ideological or political reimagining: queer, feminist, socialist, capitalist, communist...
And here's the other thing: there are versions of just about any fairytale you can imagine in pretty much every single culture on Earth. So there are already, for example, African & Asian Cinderellas (in fact, as far as we know, CHINA STARTED IT):
Some Aboriginal Dreaming stories, tens of thousands of years old and embedded in Culture and the Australian land (and sea and sky) -scape, contain the same tropes that turned up later in fairytales across Africa, Asia, Scandinavia and Europe:

I could go on and on, but it is so easy to find examples of these stories from all over the world, if you don't believe me, go and do your own research. Hey, someone might even give you a degree for it. (#kidding)
My point is this: one of the greatest things humans do is tell stories, and the reason folk and fairy tales survived for as long as they have, in the vast, innumerable number of iterations as they do, is because a.) they tell us truths about what makes us human,
regardless of the colour nature and evolution happened to make our skin, and b.) because these stories are INCREDIBLY robust, You can't kill 'em with a stick, much less a black protagonist, or even a pack of freaking racists on social media.
So if it's possible to make feminist and queer tales out of those apparent exemplars of heterocentric misogyny (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast and so on and so on...) and yet for those stories to remain entirely recognisably themselves,
then the recasting of temporarily white protagonists as a person of colour, or with a disability, or with (oh for godssakes I can't believe this is even a thing) different coloured hair, is equally viable, doable, and authentic.
So to all the racist whiners complaining that their childhood is ruined and they are herewith throwing out their copies of whatever: suck it up. The stories will be FINE without you. The only fragile thing here is you, and your unwillingness to consider that
if the story was important to you as a child, because you "saw" something of yourself in the character, then why, apart from rampant narcissism (oh, and spoiler alert: RACISM), would you want to deny that to children who DON'T look like you.
Sit down. Crack a book. Grow up.
Do I need a hashtag on this thing? #LittleMermaid
Oh crap this is the actual hashtag oops #NotMyAriel aka #suckitupwhiteprincesses
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