Yes. Yes it did.
As a person who had to listen to The Little Match Girl read aloud by her teacher year after year before Christmas, the name of Hans Christian Andersen to me is eternally bound to childhood emotional trauma. I have never cared for any of his stories (and I had all the picture books), and most of them just downright made me want to curl up in a ball and wail.
Okay, so I had my doubts when I heard that Disney was coming out with a Snow Queen movie.
Even after I heard that it has most of the creative team from Tangled.
I just watched the movie, braving throngs of excited children (ADORABLE) and pre-Thanksgiving-dinner stressed out mothers (LESS ADORABLE).
And as a traditional straight up "The Book is Always Better than the Movie" kinda Storyteller gal, I just have to suck it up and admit:
I am SOLD.
HERE BE SPOILERS I KID YOU NOT
Disney seems to have recognized two very important things:
1. Apart from their age-old princess image problem, the Disney princes, well, have always also kinda sucked. Especially the early ones. Girls need role models sure, but seriously, guys did not fare much better either. But Tangled and Frozen seem to have picked up something very important: Male characters also need character. And damn do they have one now.
2. Love alone does not a happy ending make. Princesses might be teenage girls of 16-18, but that doesn't mean that they will get married and live happily ever after.
Because what if the guy picks his nose?
All men do.
(Yes that was a reference)
And here is something else that I as a Storyteller need to suck up now:
As much as we like to wail on Disney, let's admit: That is exactly what the "fairy tale canon" tells the kids. There will be One person, One Love, AT FIRST SIGHT, and it will be magical and perfect and your braces won't get tangled and the guy won't be a jerk. You might stray and wander, but you will always come back to your Perfect Match in the end. Even if you have only known each other for a day.
I don't know about anyone else, but I am taking a second look at my repertoire as we speak.
(Snow White. Oops. Sleeping Beauty. Ouch. Cinderella. Yeeeah...)
I pride myself in telling folktales and fairy tales that are not well known at all, and it is still hard to find one where a person, especially a female hero, goes through (um) multiple men before finding the right one. It's no wonder, most of these stories were born in a different time.
Don't get me wrong. I have always cringed at the idea of "modernizing" folktales and fairy tales. I did not like the kind of "feminist" re-tellings where "Cinderella goes to college." I did not like them when I started storytelling, and I don't like them now.
But there are other kinds of tales out there. Many of them. about stories that end with achievements other than love and marriage. Stories that talk about sisterhood, and family, and adventure. Many of us are already telling many of them. We will just have to double down and make sure they are told often. Told well. And that they are heard.
Storytellers, seriously, do we want to let Disney beat us to a positive message?...