Well, what do you know? I did hate it. I thought that it was so bad that I couldn't finish it. I walked away and didn't come back.
So, here are my incomplete and disjointed thoughts on that trainwreck of a movie.
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( Hurt/Comfort: The Fairytale )
As I was reading this book, I was already irritated and angry. I disliked the smug tone of A.N., I detested the tiresome lectures about how repugnant marriage is, and I despised the character assassination that was inserted for the sake of being 'grim' and 'realistic.'
But it was this story that turned my dislike into outright hate. It was this story that made me wish to throw this book into a bonfire.
Let's get this over with.
( Misogyny: The Fairytale )
The story takes place in contemporary times. A male college student has been pining over his female classmate and she's finally "relented" to go out with him "after two years of aloof and chilly friendliness".
Yes, she's an aloof and arrogant ice queen who's such a jerk for making the poor boy wait for two years. Is anybody surprised by this characterization?
( Another Midlife Crisis: The Fairytale )
Which I never believed had a truly happy ending anyway.
( Nice Guys Finish Last: The Fairytale )
Which is not a fairytale. It’s a horror story.
So, apparently the Anonymous Narrator (A.N.) has such scorn for fairytales that he can’t even tell them apart from other genres.
( Marriage Stinks: The Fairytale )
This is one of them. And unlike the others before, it’s very short, only a few pages long.
( Pointlessness: The Fairytale )
What other fairytale characters could he destroy next, in his determined quest to stamp out any kind of cheer or fun from fairytales? Why, Jack from "Jack in the Beanstalk!"
Which is rather amusing, because it’s not as if the original Jack hasn’t been criticized before. His adventures up on the beanstalk are supposed to be fun for children, but there have been adults who’ve pointed out that, fun or no fun, Jack is still a thief, even if the giant is cruel and even if Jack and his mother desperately need the riches.
But, of course, that’s not enough for A.N. It’s not enough for Jack’s actions to be morally ambiguous. Nope, let’s strip any kind of redeeming quality from Jack and paint him, like Hansel and Gretel, in the worst possible light.
( Get Off My Lawn: The Fairytale )
( Sympathy for the Ephebophile: The Fairytale )
All right, so this story seems to be a ‘sympathy for the devil’ narrative. Okay, we never really get the stepmother’s side of the story in the original tale (she’s just a vindictive person there), so this is an interesting interpretation. The story says that the stepmother left her stepdaughter alone because she was a girl and she fantasized about sharing confidences with her and taking her on shopping trips.
That’s not my anachronism by the way. It’s the book’s. A.N.’s tone initially appears to be that of a modern viewer providing their own irreverent commentary on the classic story, similar to the irreverent tone used by James Finn Garner in his fairytale anthology, Politically Incorrect Bedtime Stories. But, as the story goes on, it becomes clear that the two are entirely different. Garner consistently kept an irreverent tone because his retellings were satires, using fairytales to poke fun at politically correct conventions. His book was also funny, and it will soon sink in that there is no joy or fun to be found here.
( Angst: The Fairytale )
The narrator of the prologue has an irreverent and sly tone, so I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be Cunningham himself or a fictional persona as the narrator. However, since I’m trying to make it a point to not attack authors directly when ranting about their books (key word is "trying") since authors are real people and I have no idea what Cunningham’s intentions or thoughts truly were when writing this, I shall treat the narrator as a separate person all together. Just as L. Frank Baum created a fictional persona for himself when claiming to be "The Royal Historian of Oz", who was in charge of writing down Oz’s official history as relayed by Dorothy and Princess Ozma, so too shall I create a fictional persona of our storyteller. He shall henceforth be known as Anonymous Narrator, or A.N. for short, and he shall be the target of my fury.
( Team Evil: The Prologue )
The title of this post says that it’s a review. But, in essence, it’s not. It will be a multi-part rant.
This rant will be long, not only because I am frequently long-winded but because, as Brad Jones said in his review of "Transformers 3", it’s always easier to talk about something that you don’t like.
I do not like this book. I hate this book.
I hate it so much that, even though I think that book-burning is wrong, I was sorely tempted to rethink that stance as I was reading it. So, if there’s anyone out there who loved this book and, for some reason, has happened to come across my lowly post, I would advise that you avoid reading the rest of this rant/review.
For those who don’t know, A Wild Swan: And Other Tales is a collection of short stories that are all retellings of well-known fairytales, and that’s the reason why I picked up this book to begin with. I love fairytales and I’m always interested in reading and/or watching more versions of them, be they old or new. That’s one of the reasons why I’m a big Disney fan, because of their fantastic track record in adapting and popularizing their own versions of classic fairytales.
If you read any of the marketing blurbs for this book, you will see that these retellings are supposed to be darker and more modernized deconstructions of the original stories and be, in short, ‘fairytales for grown-ups.’ So, unlike Barbara Walker’s similar work, Feminist Fairy Tales, which was sporked at Das-Sporking (http://das-sporking.livejournal.com/
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Cut for spoilers. Not for the ending, which everyone familiar with the fairytale knows, but for the changes the writers made.
( Tale as old as - SPOILERS! )
"Historical inaccuracy is Egyptian pyramids being built in the New Kingdom period. Geographic inaccuracy is casting all of the Egyptian roles with people from western Europe. A movie set in a certain geographic location has the right to cast characters that look like the people from that location without people complaining about things that should not be there."
Oh, my goodness. Finally, FINALLY I've found an article addressing just how stupid and nonsensical the whole "dying in childbirth = certain death" excuse for Anakin Skywalker's downfall is. I've read and watched a lot of rants/criticism about the Star Wars prequels, but never one that so thoroughly addressed how ridiculous the whole "dying in childbirth" thing was. I swear, it's like this author was reading my mind.
- "He seriously spends two hours of the movie freaking out about his wife’s uterus, and hypes himself up so much that he gets to the point of slaughtering tiny tots in a Jedi temple. All because he can’t think of another way to save Padme from reproductive health complications."
- "Why didn’t they just go to a goddamned obstetrician-gynecologist?"
- "Prenatal visits never happen in Episode III, not even offscreen. Despite Anakin’s spiraling paranoia about Padme’s health, doctors or hospitals are bizarrely never mentioned."
- "If there were any women’s healthcare available, there is no reason why Padme wouldn’t take advantage of it. For one thing, her husband is flipping the fuck out over her possibly dying in childbirth. Why didn’t she visit a doctor in an attempt to soothe his fevered mind?"
- "Even if access to reproductive health services is limited in this galaxy—as in ours—Padme is probably the woman best situated to get it. She’s a sitting Senator residing in Coruscant, the capital of the galaxy. She’s clearly a woman of means, given that she has three elaborate costume changes for every hour of the day. Padme is hanging out in a posh penthouse in the most populous city in the galaxy: if there’s medical assistance out there, she can get it."
- "And if the couple were still super paranoid about visiting the doctor together, she could just go by herself. It’s not like “ANAKIN SKYWALKER IS THE SECRET FATHER OF MY BABY” is written on her cervix."
- "The droid then goes onto pronounce that she has “lost the will to live,” despite leading with an admission that they don’t know what’s wrong. How is that consistent? And why would a robot be programmed to detect “will to live”? In short, this droid is completely full of shit."
- "That said, depression after giving birth, and death caused by emotional shock, are both real things. But they’re medical things, with diagnosable symptoms and actual medical remedies. The same thing goes for a death caused by Anakin Force-choking Padme when she goes to confront him. A Force-choke is still a choke, and a choke is a physical cause of injury. If any of these things actually caused Padme’s death, then this droid is just an incompetent fuck who doesn’t know what it’s doing."
- "But the point is that broken-heart syndrome manifests as literal heart failure: the left ventricle of the heart spasms the way it does in a conventional heart attack caused by blocked arteries. But cardiac failure isn’t mentioned by the medical droid."
- "But in general, you don’t really just up and die from postpartum depression. However, you’d think that if Padme were dying from being very sad, someone would at least mention postpartum depression? You know, in passing. Maybe even eliminating it as a possible diagnosis."
- "But no, in Revenge of the Sith, everything related to birth is just a big question mark hanging over the characters. Who even knoooooows how uteruses work? Sometimes they just kill people, randomly, because you get sad."
- "Even if we do accept the inane premise that she lost the will to live and died of being sad about Anakin, she’s only sad because Anakin has completely lost his shit after psyching himself out over her imminent death in childbirth. If Anakin hadn’t been frightened out of his mind about the deadly capacities of Padme’s fallopian tubes, he wouldn’t have turned to the Dark Side."
And I started wondering about whether or not the upcoming 2017 live-action version of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" will address any of the points that were brought up. I'm not saying that the film must address these points, but it would be fun if they did. So, here are a list of questions/plot holes/threads left hanging from the original Disney movie:
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