The Real Housewives of Disney
Probably the best spot from Saturday Night Live last night was their spoof on Real Housewives reality shows with a Disney rift (with LiLo as Rapunzel who just escaped the tower, natch). These fairy tales are such a ubiquitous part of our culture that the princess in-jokes could effortlessly be reduced to a series of one line zingers even if they were largely in poor taste.
How would an architect design houses from fairy tales? Let’s find out: Fairy tale author and editor Kate Bernheimer and architect Andrew Bernheimer collaborated to take a look at houses and structures from fairy tales, as seen through the lens of architecture.
What are the key elements of your architectural design and how is it sited?
As structural engineers we were instantly drawn to the “tower that stood in a forest and had neither a door nor a stairway, but only a tiny little window at the very top” featured in the Brothers Grimm version of “Rapunzel,” and we looked to our previous design for the Seven Stems Broadcast Tower for inspiration. We were able to meet the Grimms’ strict design requirements by employing a slender tower design of vertical cylindrical stems that are joined by intermittent outrigger beams with a reinforced space at the very top for Rapunzel’s long captivity.
It’s probably just as well that Disney did not go in the direction of the original fairy tale. I wondered when I first heard about it how they were going to deal with the themes of lust in Rapunzel and now that I’ve seen the movie Tangled I think they dealt with it all very well. It shows that you can desire something (saving your pregnant wife from sick bed) but that you shouldn’t go too far with your desires as Mother Gothel did in her quest to maintain her youth and beauty at the expense of Rapunzel’s freedom. Flynn and Rapunzel also had their own desires, they toned it down even more for the younger generation though and called them dreams. They talked about how dreams change over time, and what to do if one doesn’t live up to your expectations, and becoming each other’s dream at the end was more or less a declaration of love which makes sense in a Rapunzel fairy tale.
Fairy Tale Fantasies: Rapunzel by J-Scott Campbell
Another Marvel inspired look at a fairy tale, this time it’s Rapunzel. This one stresses the themes of lust found throughout the fairy tale, as we’ve talked about before, but this is no innocent maid. She seems to know exactly what she is doing, whether or not she is aware of the consequences of it. We see her here caring for the key to her eventual awakening, misery, and ultimately salvation. I liked the touch of the roses, even if they were just added for matching color, as they hint at another fairy tale featuring a trapped maiden Sleeping Beauty. I also like the freckles drawn almost as blemishes here and there. This is a fairy tale princess born with a flaw after all, and has to be freed from it to earn her happily ever after.
Rapunzel (ghd Advert)
The first of a series of witty and subversive ads by RKCR/Y&R for ghd. They first appeared in November 2009. (You can see the full page ads from magazines above and in my files) The tag-line was You can do anything with your hair… and the concept was the modern, independent and confident woman no longer in need of a prince to rescue her, (our modern princes ride motorbikes rather than horses…) yet how close they now are to those pre-literary tales; princesses wielding axes and forging their own destiny… Great imagery too, grown-up and suitably dark.
The Grimms were collecting folk tales that had been around for hundreds of years. Some people say there’s like a thousand Cinderella stories out there; they’re in every culture, going back at least to the 9th century in China. The Grimms amplified the goriness and took out all the sex. It’s been said that these folk tales were the porn of their day. Basically, these stories were for adults. The women would be sitting around doing the spinning, or whatever women did back then. And they’d be bored and they’d tell these stories. The Grimms collected them and as they got more popular, they took out all the—there was a lot of incest. There was a lot of, you know, Sleeping Beauty wakes up pregnant. Rapunzel’s in that tower, and they’re not just holding hands—she gets pregnant with twins. And so there’s a lot of stuff in there that the kids don’t know about.
Anyway, they amplified the violence, so that we parents now go, ew, I’m not sure I want to expose my child to that. But we don’t mind exposing them to this other stuff. The other thing that struck me was that, in the Disney versions most of us grew up with, it’s really more about the prince. The girl is obviously still the star of the show, but it’s about the prince’s fight to win her. And she’s very passive. But the Grimm’s princesses are not passive. They’re really actors in their own fate. And they’re often clever; they’re often strong. They’re not just sitting there being pretty.
This is essentially also the message of Spinning Straw into Gold: What Fairy Tales Reveal about the Transformations in a Woman’s Life. Disney altered these “original” stories and made the “princesses” conform to a more patriarchal culture. The princes were added to the beginning of the Disney films to frame the narratives as love stories, when really, these tales should be centered around the “princess” and her life transformation. It can be debated how the men who wake up “princesses” (like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty) only are able to rouse the “princesses” because they were ready to be “aroused.” It’s not really about the man at all.
Untangling The Hairy Physics Of Rapunzel
Kelly Ward, senior software engineer for Walt Disney Animation Studios, was tasked with bringing Rapunzel’s locks to life in Disney’s new movie, Tangled, out Nov. 24. The hair had to look realistic, but not too real — otherwise Rapunzel would be towing 80 pounds behind her.