How the Grimms Cast a Spell on the World

Still, amid the love fest accompanying the tales' 200th anniversary, casting a critical glance at the texts is also important. Many of the stories are sexist, reflecting a patriarchal culture. Zipes cites the tale of "Little Red Riding Hood," which originated in the medieval period, as a metaphor for rape in which women are blamed for the crime. "We have a responsibility to revise the Grimms' tales according to a new utopian ideal," he says. "Artistically, we have to rethink ways we can convey the problems of these stories such as incest, rape and child abuse and use the metaphors in a way that will resonate so people will confront these issues in a way that will do justice to women and people of different races."

While some creative people have done this -- Zipes cites feminist Angela Carter's collection of tales "The Bloody Chamber," and Ann Sexton's revised Grimms' tales called "Transformations" -- the fairy tales typically produced today, especially out of Hollywood, the world's great fairy tale factory, fail to make this leap.

Disney has made a fortune producing beloved animated versions the Grimms' tales, such as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Sleeping Beauty," and most recently "Tangled," a film about Rapunzel. But these films, in particular, fail to take a modern approach. "All Disney films should be abolished," Zipes says. "They are simplistic, highly sexist, somewhat racist and stupid."

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