Incoherence Part 2

WARNING: This goes to a dark place; it turned out to be more of an anti-fairy tale then anything else.

If you would like to check out the first part of Incoherence click here.

Abuk felt his face fall as his mother told him there was no women servants with green eyes. He had always assumed his mother had known everyone; she was the only one he could depend on through everything.  He gazed up at the blue sky and found a black bird floating across the sky; what are the odds that his mother is wrong? There had to be a green eyed girl running around the palace, there just had to be!

Abuk’s mother had never failed him before.  She always had been there for him even in the darkest of nights. Abuk felt a strange sensation creeping from the depths of his stomach, was that betrayal? He was used to feeling that way when he was near his father but never his mother.  Abuk felt ashamed at the mere thought of it, tuning from his mother with a hasty, “Thank you,” and hurried to hide his rosy cheeks.

Abuk ran to the tallest tree in the courtyard and started to climb.  He was starting to get anxious; the height had always calmed him down.  One missed hand hold or foot placement and he would fall to the ground; it took concentration in order to reach the highest branch.  Over the years Abuk’s anxious energy had pushed him to climb further and further up the tree.  He now climbed to the top without fear of falling, only the curiosity of the plummet.

Once he had reached the top, Abuk felt his negative energies disappear and peace re-entering his body.  He straddled each side of the branch with his legs and starred down at the ground; his mind wandered back to falling.

The girl with the beautiful green eyes had told him not to but he had pondered it so often that it had become second nature.  Another part f him started to wonder whether the girl was merely a figment of his imagination.  Abuk leaned his torso down so it touched the bark.  He wasn’t that high up, nothing compared to the balcony he had been on earlier.

Suddenly, the green eyes filled his mind and jarred him, causing him the twist suddenly on the limb.  Abuk’s muscles tensed around the branch; even in his thoughts the green eyed girl could stop him from thinking about falling.  She was his guardian, his fairy mother, watching over him and keeping him from dreaming murderous ends.   Knowing his mind was no escape from the judgment of those beautiful eyes he put his mind to a different task; he had to find this girl.  She was the only thing that could keep him grounded, from learning how to fly and how to fall. Abuk decided then and there that he would look everywhere in the palace, sneak away into the nearby village to find her if he had to.

“ABUK!GET DOWN HERE!” The harsh words stumbled over each other out of the voice of the one man that could make Abuk’s skin crawl, his father. “RIGH NOW!” Abuk took a deep breath before he started his decent, maybe if it took long enough, his father would forget why he was standing yelling at a tree.

“Abuk, you stupid child. Get down.” Abuk wanted to fly away but knew that now was not his chance; this was not his opportunity to disappear.  Abuk lowered himself to the ground and turned to face his father.  The overpowering smell of Raki assaulted his nose the smell made his eyes burn. “Stupid child, what were you doing in a tree? Are you a bird? My young child sitting in a tree like a bird, a stupid bird, a stupid child.”

Abuk could not raise his eyes to meet his fathers, bile rose up the back of his throat; he needed to get away.  There was no place to hide; his father’s entourage was just a few paces behind him laughing at the drunken spectacle. His father placed a hand on his shoulder, “Don’t climb trees you idiot boy; you are not a bird.”

Abuk’s father then released his hand off his shoulder and turned to his friends and made his way back to the palace. As soon as his father had left him, Abuk doubled over and retched at the base of the tree not stopping until there was nothing else left in his stomach.

Abuk hated it when his father touched him; there was no comfort in that hand, no love at the end of those finger tips.  Abuk had tried to block the memory from flooding over him; he had tried ever so hard to keep it tucked away in the recesses of him mind.  Whenever he felt the memory creeping back up his whole body would start to tremble. Slowly Abuk regained his composure only letting a few tears fall from his eyes.

Abuk new the only way that he could forget what had happened was to start on his mission, to find the girl with the green eyes. He first turned south to the neighboring village but then looked to the sky and saw that the sun was getting to rest its head. Instead, Abuk headed into the palace hoping against all hopes that he would not see his father when he entered.  Abuk was determined to find her, searching every room and questioning every servant he saw.

He continued his search until it had gotten dark, skipping supper, feeling his pursuit was more important than his stomach.  Worn out by his search, Abuk decided to check one last place before starting fresh tomorrow.  He decided to head back to where he had first seen her, the balcony on the tallest tower.

Abuk slowly opened the door, hoping against hope that she would be there. He scanned the room but did not see her, entering further he started looking in desperate places, behind curtains, underneath the chairs. Abuk was so distracted by his plight that he didn’t hear the door open or a man stumble over the threshold.

“Wha’ are you lookin’ for?” Abuk jumped but froze when he saw the man was his father.  A sick grin started to appear over his father’s face.  “Yer alone?” Slowly scanning the and seeing no one else there locked the door he had just entered.

Abuk had seen his father this drunk only one time before; the last time he had tried to molest him.  Abuk’s head began to spin trying to find a place to run to; his mother would not be able to stop him.  Abuk’s father was about to fracture his soul even further, never would he be whole or happy after this moment.

“You stupid boy; there is no place to run.  There is no place to hide.  Your ignorant mother is asleep; you will not get away from me this time.” His voice was filled with menace but also a heavy promise, this time he would get his way.

Abuk turned and ran out to the balcony; looking for some possible way to escape, but he was overwhelmed but the feeling of nothingness.  The black sky had seemed to overpower even the moon and the stars on this ugly night. Abuk turned to face his father’s advances as he slowly backed towards the edge of the balcony.

“I told you stupid child, stupid bird, there is no place to go, come here.  I want you.”

The green eyes flashed in him mind once more, even more vivid than they had while he was in the tree; it was almost as if she were there in person, giving him permission.  Without hesitation Abuk pushed off from the edge feeling what is was like to fly.

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Jack and Giants

 

I recently went and saw Jack the Giant Slayer, just one of the latest installments to a fairy tale turned action movie.  I got to the theater just in time to check out the previews:Olympus Has Fallen, GI Joe 2, Jurassic Park 3D, Oblivion, Iron Man 3, and Man of Steel.  I smirked as I noticed the common theme, watching these five previews I was ready for an action flick. [Spoilers Ahead]

The beginning opened up with Monks and magic; these Monks wanted to find a way to their way to God.  They are able to procure magic beans that climb to the heavens, but instead of finding God they found the giants. The two races set out to destroy each other and after a terrible battle and much bloodshed the king, King Eric, melts down one of the giant’s hearts and mixes it with metal and forms a crown, a crown that can control the giants when worn.  He sends them back to their domain in the sky and cuts down the beanstalk where once again in their castle the plot the return to the world of the humans to seek their revenge.

The opening sequence was weird. The creators set out to tell the story of King Eric and the Giants but was done in weird CGI; it automatically made me nervous for the rest of the film.  It was a combination between what was supposed to be wooden puppets and cartoons.  What I did find interesting about the story was the Monks desire to find God, combing spiritual with mystical – questioning God’s interaction with mankind and mankind’s desire for a connection with God.

Once the CGI stops the story starts years after the Giants’ war (which has turned into a myth) with a mother and a father reading to their children, the mother reads to her daughter and the father reads to his son.  Ten year progress and the young children are now eighteen and like most fairy tales they families have been broken apart by death. The young boy, Jack, is being raised by his cantankerous uncle.  While the young woman, the princess Isabelle, has lost her mother and is left to be raised by the overprotective King. She often escapes from the castle and catches eyes with Jack who saves her from being assaulted by some older men (Jack’s already saving the princess? Does this movie stray away from the stereotypical fairy tale at all?).

The princess is bound to marry Roderick one of the king’s advisers, who reminded me far too much of this Disney scenario. Roderick is a complete jerk and has his own agenda.  He wants to find the beans and rule the giants, conquering not only the giants realm but also the earthly realm as well. He has kept the beans and the crown safe but they are stolen by a monk who is trying to protect the English realm from this evil man. But, before he is able to escape the city he hands off the the beans to Jack in exchange for the horse he was sent to town to sell with the promise that the when he returned them to the monastery they would pay him well.

Jack returns home to face his uncle who is supremely disappointed in Jack’s return investment, knocks the beans out of his hands and one falls between the cracks of the floor underneath the house. Meanwhile the princess has an argument with her father and ends up running away from home (seriously way more connections to this movie than I thought about in theaters).  It starts to storm and the young princess seeks shelter at Jack’s house.  Things escalate quickly when the bean is underneath the house is hit by some of the running water from the rain, literally the beanstalk grows at hyper-speed and the vines start to lift up the house bringing it to the sky but not before the Jack and Princess Isabelle are separated from each other.  Jack falls to the ground while Princess Isabelle is locked inside the house.

The king has sent out a search party and they find Jack at the bottom of the beanstalk. When he hears what has happened to his daughter he sends his best men up the beanstalk to rescue her and take her back home.  Jack is allowed to go up with them along with the evil Roderick.  He cons the beans away from Jack while also putting the crown on his head to control the giants.  Jack and the rest of the King’s Guard is able to save Isabelle and are ready to bring her back down to earth just as Roderick is about to head down to earth with his legion of giants. Down below the king has started to cut down the beanstalk knowing that he is sacrificing the life of his daughter in order to save the rest of the population.  A fight ensues between one of the King’s Guard and Roderick and Roderick dies but before the King’s Guard can grab the crown one of the giant’s takes it – he is now in charge of his fellow giants.  But, before they can head back to earth the beanstalk is cut down.  The giant is infuriated but not for long; he sees the beans the Roderick conned away from Jack and throws them into the water and the giants descend with the vines to the earth the exact their revenge.

The fight seen finally shows up for the last twenty minutes of the movie bringing burning moats, fully grown trees being lit by fire and tossed around like frisbees by the giants, and some weaponry that looked far too ahead of its time for that time period. To make a long story short, or in this case just less long, Jack kills the giant that had the crown and sends the giants back to their home in the sky.  After his victory Jack and Isabelle marry and it the story ends with their children asking to hear about the tale of the giants.

I had many mixed feelings about this film.  Every time I thought it was going to redeem itself, whether with the plot or its messages I was always a little disappointed.  From the previews that I saw I knew this would be a male driven story, I mean it should be all about Jack but when they threw in a princess I was intrigued.  Isabelle has a great adventurous spirit but usually ends up way over her head.  Even in her first meeting with Jack she needs to he protected; she doesn’t know how to handle herself but longs to be something more than just her father’s caged bird.  One of my favorite moments in the movie happened between Jack and Isabelle when she was questioning her lie and how useless she felt, “A princess is such a useless thing.”  Jack was appalled by her statement telling her that no one was useless and asking her to imagine all the good things she could do when she was queen.

What I did admire about this movie is it’s strong message to follow one’s dreams. Okay, maybe I’m a sucker for positive messages aimed at those in their teens; it’s such a rough age and a time of great transition and society is hard on those who aren’t sure where they fit in. This movie reinforces that everybody has a place within society even if your family is poor or you feel trapped by your parent’s ideas.

Overall I enjoyed it; there were parts that made me giggle, good action, even though some of the plot was fairly predictable (which shouldn’t be much of a surprise, it’s a popular fairy tale, most people know the story).  It’s always fun to see the what Hollywood does to their renditions of fairy tales and this was no exception. When you do watch it make sure you have the right Jack in mind because there’s a couple different versions, the watered down version told to young children and the original with lines like, ” Then having tantalised the giant for a while, he [Jack] gave him a most weighty knock with his pickaxe on the very crown of his head, and killed him on the spot.” Happy giant hunting!

Incoherence

Abuk sat on the top of a tall tower, his feet dangling, kicking the brick with his heels, staring at the vast, arid land around him. His mind wandered away from the infinite that surrounded him and got to his feet, his toes to the edge of his father’s palace. Abuk leaned forward over the wall, testing the limits of his balance. Abuk wondered what it would be like to end his life; what happened in the life after this, would Allah be merciful to him? Would his life be any happier for him, or would be punished for ending his own life?

Abuk closed his eyes feeling the wind pick up speed and tousle his hair. His mind wandered to the darkest parts of his imagination, would it hurt when his body hit the ground? Or would the elation of flying and finally being free be enough to overpower the pain that he may feel?

Suddenly, Abuk felt something constrict on his throat before he was pulled down to his back. He turned to glare at the person who had hindered his flight into darkness, his eyes falling upon a beautiful young girl. Abuk could not help but be ensnared by the girl’s eyes; he had never before seen such a beautiful green. The color was seldom seen where he lived; instead various shades of brown were prevalent, skin, eyes, dirt, brown everywhere. It was a green that he had only seen in paintings and in his dreams, a color of growth, and lushness, and hope.

Abuk drew himself out of his stupor and reviewed his current situation; confusion and embarrassment surged through his entire being.

“Who are you? Why did you do that? How did you find me?” The questions just spilled out of Abuk’s mouth. “Who are you?”

Assaulted by the string of question she stumbled back towards the door. The young girl looked as though she knew not how to answer him or which question to answer first.

“Don’t jump,” she whispered quickly as she stumbled back through the doorway, starting into a run as she passed over the threshold, leaving Abuk in even more bewilderment. Abuk arose to chase after her but she had disappeared just as quickly as she appeared. Abuk returned to his ledge laying so his legs once again dangled, he closed his eyes in an attempt to burn her image into his mind, never wanting to lose her beauty.

Abuk awoke to his name being called throughout his father’s palace. He distinctly heard the shrill panic of his mother’s voice. Abuk hated that his mother worried so much and hated disappointing her even more. Abuk stood up brushing of his kaftan, he called back to his mother as he made his way into the palace and down the stairs from the tallest tower, “I’m right here!”

“Where have you been my sweet? I was so worried!”

“Wondering what it would be like to fly.” Abuk felt bad lying to his mother; she seemed to be the only one who understood him in the entire empire. Stretching the truth did not make him feel too guilty, “Mother, I saw a girl my age with the greenest of eyes, do you know her? Is she one of the servant’s daughters?”

“Oh my dear Abuk, leave flying to the birds; they are the only ones who have been blessed with wings!”

“Mother, the girl, do you know her?” Abuk felt his spirit flicker at the idea of seeing the girl again, slowly burning away at the darkness and gloom that seemed to overpower him.

Abuk believed his mother to be beautiful. Her skin was warm, and her face only showed wrinkles when she smiled or when she was thinking deeply. The wrinkles appeared now as she pondered. Her eyes were reminded him of clouds before it rained, a slow downpour free of lightning. Abuk had only seen his mother’s hair twice to his recollection for it was normally hidden under her tesettür, in his memory it was the chestnuts and flowed down her back.

“My son, I know every servant in this house and none of them have green eyes.”

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I thought I would try my own hand at a creating a “fairy tale,” the rest to come soon!

Fairy Tales and Art

Art is amazing and versatile; it can get a hold of any subject matter and change it into something else. I love seeing something that I know and recognize change into a form that is even more intriguing and  maybe even more creative than it was before. That’s part of been what’s so amazing about exploring the new reinterpretations of fairy tales within art.

Gender Reversed Art

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A couple of artists have taken iconic Disney princesses and swapped the usually female role with that of the male. Above two different artists, Yudi Chen and LeoLeus, put men into the story of Rapunzel. Yudi Chen has done a number of gender reversals (click on the image on the right to check them out) while the image on the left by LeoLeus, a deviantArtist who was inspired by the film Tangled. His interpretation was done more as self-portrait after his watching of the film than a statement on men within fairy tales, but that message is still important to question.

Fairy tales are known for their female characters; half of the time the men in the roles aren’t even given names, going by “Prince Charming,” as opposed to a real name. The men aren’t the focus of the plot but they often come out in the end as heroes – yet they’re nameless. Young girls have many princesses that they look up to but boys do not have many non-animal characters to look up to and admire.

Advertising

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The image on the right is an advertisement put out by the Clinica Dempere located in Venezuela that shows the transition that Ariel would have gone through if she had chosen plastic surgery opposed to asking Ursula to help her on her quest. The image has taken some heat for its racy ideas, a three part series. The tag line is, “We make fairy tales come true,” which presumes that one’s dreams are to be surgically manipulated into the perfect person.

Anne Leibovitz started a doing a campaign ad for Disney a couple of years ago for their Disney parks. She has joined up with many iconic actors and actresses to reenact some famous Disney movies.  It’s amazing to see some of the talent that has joined up with Leibovitz for the project some names include Tina Fey, Taylor Swift, Whoopi Goldberg, David Beckham, and Jeff Bridges (just to name a few). Leibovitz and Disney have taken pop culture icons and mixed them in to the stories people know and love.  They’re targeting two audiences with these photo ads, the children who love the stories now and the parents who know the actors and the stories.

Alternative Endings 

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These works are some of my favorite pieces of work; the idea of the stories not ending in the conventional “Happily ever after.” The image on the right was created by justin-mctwisp, a deviantArt artist. There are a couple of other images that he has created that have this same thread; the bad guy wins.  These creations let the imagination run wild with new stoires, instead of being constrained by their repetition. It makes one question everything they knew about the story beforehand; how did Gaston kill the beast? Was it when the townspeople stormed the castle? Did she ever end up going to live with the Beast or did she just settle for Gaston in the first place? We don’t know what the artists original intent was but our own imaginations are just as helpful when they’re sparked by these pieces.

On the right is a picture is part of a ten part series by Dina Goldstein.  In her series Belle is getting plastic surgery and Rapunzel has cancer.  The has a taste of bittersweet in it; the princess didn’t get their happily ever after, instead they received a heavy dose of reality. When Goldstein started working on these photos her mother had just been diagnosed with cancer and her daughter was discovering princesses; Goldstein’s imagination started to question what it would look like if fairy tales were a part of current society and what it would look like if these princesses faced some issues that modern women have to face.

Zombies

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Nothing can escape the pop culture phenomenon of zombies and the supernatural; they’ve taken over a large part of our culture.  jeftoon01 on the left and clocktowerman on the right are both deviantArtists who have “zombified” Disney’s iconic princesses.  They’ve turned something that is usually sweet and beautiful into something that is dark and grotesque, even the Seven Dwarfs look possessed.

A common thread throughout all of these pieces is that fairy tales aren’t just for children any more.  One cannot look at the renditions of zombie princesses and say they would want to show those to their young children, unless they wanted to give them nightmares. Even the alternative endings art has Beast’s head mounted upon the wall and Jasmine in the range of heavy artillery; one doesn’t want to have to worry about their favorite fairy tales dying.

Fairy tales have transitioned into something that is no longer just for children. Growing up with the iconic princesses at times it’s hard to see them be changed and altered in such a way, but there is also may come a minute sense of gratification.  In the real world our lives aren’t given a guarantee of happily ever after; there is so much more we have to deal with than finding the perfect man and running away from an evil queen/stepmother/sea witch.  As one grows older princess become harder and harder to relate to and these artists are trying to find a new niche, a new demographic to target, an audience that has stopped believing in happily ever afters but is still trying to hold on to their childhood.

Music and Fairytales

I’ve never written a blog before.  The whole concept of writing and allowing the world to  read it makes me uncomfortable but I decided that I needed to grow as a writer and this is one sure way to do it.  This blog is going to be about fairy tales.  I have always loved stories that started “Once Upon a Time…” and in the last couple of years have written a couple of papers for my undergrad career about them.  I find them fascinating; especially how prominent they are within culture currently.

As I have done research for my papers I can’t help but find little known fairy tales that I have never heard of before, my current quirky favorite is “Catskin” by the Brothers’ Grimm (but that is a story for a different time).  What has held my attention lately is the musical renditions of Justin Bieber, NIki Manaj, and Taylor Swift.  No, I’m not some huge obsessed teen fan; merely a casual radio/music listener but when I heard “Beauty and the Beat” and “I Knew You Were Trouble,” I couldn’t help but chalk up another win for fairy tales in pop culture.  One of the last times I was driving around town I heard “Payphone” by Maroon 5, which states that, “All those fairy tales are full of it/One more stupid love song, I’ll be sick.” It was popular last year when it came out only reaching the number two spot on Billboards Top 100 List, but I digress.

Justin Bieber has created quite a fandom within the last few years.  His rise has caused many preteens to fall head over heals for him.  In his latest hit, he joins up with Niki Manaj in “Beauty and a Beat.”  Check out the video: 

The song is a clear spin off of the story Beauty and the Beast, though I’m uncertain who is considered the beauty or the beast in their collaboration. It seems that Bieber is the man of the hour calling on any young woman to fall in love with him or just some “eye candy” that he can take around the town. What’s interesting is that in the original tale neither Beauty or the Beast have this type of superficial-ness surrounding them. Instead Beauty is considered the kindest and most dear among her other sisters; the one who is humble and willing to do anything for her father. The lyrics, on the other hand, suggest that Bieber is looking at life with a more materialistic point of view, “I wanna show you all the finer things in life.” It does not seem that Bieber would willingly indenture his life; his life is more in line with the way that Beauty’s sisters live their lives – filled with parties, suitors, concerts, and other posh things.

This is not Bieber’s first dip into the land of fairy tales and music writing.  Earlier last year he collaborated with Jaden Smith in the song, “Fairytale” which is more about how much a girl “deserves her story book ending” as opposed to being a mere object that looks great dancing and is the “hottest ticket.”  It seems that Bieber has moved from wanting to treat women like a princess to objectifying them.

Taylor Swift, like Bieber, is no foreigner land of fairy tale references in her music. Three years ago the radio heard, “Today Was a Fairytale” which a simple love can be as great as a fairy tale. Swift’s new hit song could not be further from a fairy tale, though she starts off with those familiar words of “Once upon a time.” Instead we get more of the antithesis, what a fairy tale romance should not be: 

Swift has become ever popular for writing songs that are all along similar themes, love and heartache. “I Knew You Were Trouble” is a song along the lines of heartache as a opposed to love, the girl falls in love with a guy she should never have been with in the first place.  It sounds much like Hans Christian Andersen’s original telling of “The Little Mermaid.” In this tale the youngest mermaid because obsessed with a human, someone she should never end up with.  Unlike Disney’s version, this little mermaid doesn’t end up with her love (because she is unwilling to kill his princess in order to become a mermaid again); instead, she becomes sea foam.

It’s amazing to see how fairy tales have influenced our culture; intertwining with aspects that I’ve never even thought of before.  A year ago I would have never noticed some of the most popular songs on “The Hot 100” hint towards something reminiscent of childhood, fairy tales, dreaming, royalty. Fairy tales have found their way out of people’s pasts and have become a part of people’s current lives, music is just the beginning.