by Tammy Schubert
Witches, step-relatives, in-laws, friends, medical professionals, corporate executives and people you would never suspect to do wrong. My curiosity got the better of me this month, and I just had to find out more. Is it that we as readers and writers have a skewed idea of the difference between right and wrong? Do authors write in a holier than thou mode or do we simply tell the truth as we see it? I was on a quest to find out. So I started at the beginning with my beloved fairy tales.
The evil Queen from Snow White and Cinderella’s stepmother (see above picture), to name a few, lined up outside my house, rallied together and cried out, “We are people, too.” They banged on my door. “We want to be heard. What about our side of the story?”
Their side? Hmmm… Well, how could that be? According to what I read, they were evil incarnate. Or was I wrong in my thinking?
“Our intentions were good.”
Really? I pondered the implications of those words. If it were true, authors have done grave injustices to citizens of the fictional world.
“We’ve been given a raw deal. History has not been kind to us,” they shouted. “Who are you to judge us?”
That’s just it. Who are we to judge them? Many of them believe they are doing something good for the hero, heroine or world in general. We all have the desire to do good; yet, there are people who think we have overstepped our bounds. Is that really wrong?
My interviews progressed quite nicely. All of the villains I talked to agreed over a cup of tea that most of the fiction out there is recorded by goodie-goodies of the world. The same people who would never admit to having a dark side of the soul. (Their words not mine.)
“What about us? Why does history portray us in such a bad light? We are just different in that we don’t hide our true feelings.” Lady Tremaine, Cinderella’s stepmother, slanted her head and fluttered her eyelids. “We do want the best for everyone, dear.”
Amazon.com explored the issue but stopped short in their investigation. They leave us with disturbing questions. What was Lady Tremaine really about? Maybe our impression of Cinderella has been skewed by the writer.
Consider this side of the story:
“The rumor that Cinderella's stepfamily tore her lovely dress to shreds so she couldn't go to the ball? According to her stepmother, they were only trying to save Cinderella a lifetime of embarrassment at her fashion faux pas and gently suggesting that she stay at home. (Lady Tremaine says the gown actually looked like it had been sewn together by rodents!)” – Amazon.com in their advertisement for the book Disney Princess: My Side of the Story - Cinderella/Lady Tremaine - Book #1
My goodness, what if that were true? Was Cinderella really a fashion nightmare? Did she not know a ball required something more than a dress from a twenty-fifth hand thrift store? (Could rodents really sew? Well, that is a question for another day.) Hmmmm… Did she have a penchant for wearing Prada shoes with similar dresses? If so, didn't Lady Tremaine do her a great service?
Then there’s Snow White:
“And that business about the 'evil' Queen giving Snow White a poisoned apple? Well, per the Queen herself, she was actually a health nut who was only concerned that her stepdaughter wasn't getting the proper nutrition!” --Amazon.com in their advertisement for the book Disney Princess: My Side of the Story #2: Snow White/The Queen
Maybe Snow White only ate junk food. Maybe the Queen was on the path to health and only wanted to share her good fortune? People generally want to share the good things that have worked for them. Why should the Queen be any different? Snow White may have just had an allergic reaction, or maybe there was some mix up and the Queen got blamed.
Consider Auriel’s story in The Little Mermaid:
“The rumor that mean, nasty Ursula turned Ariel into a human just so the sea witch could take over the seven seas? To hear Ursula tell it, she was only trying to help Ariel find her true love (and wanted to impress that hunky King Triton in the process!).” –Amazon.com in their advertisement for the book Disney Princess: My Side of the Story #3: The Little Mermaid/Ursula.
Ariel did find her true love. Didn't she? So was it so wrong of Ursula to help her along?
Unfortunately, I ran out of time and didn’t get to interview some modern fictional villains. Maybe you can help. What’s a modern day villain’s story? What’s their take on life? Were you compelled to be more sympathetic towards them once you knew their story?