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Fairy Tales Trending in Hollywood

Mary Claire O'Donnell | Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Why fairytales? Why now?

Pop culture tends to follow trends. Consumers and producers alike latch onto ideas they like. Consumers eat up all the movies, TV shows and other paraphernalia that businesses and studios churn out. This cycle continues until the current big thing runs its course and the public finds something new interesting.

That former current big thing is still trying to hang on: vampires. That new big thing people are engrossing themselves in now: fairytales.

From “Nosferatu” (1922) to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003), vampires have always held a degree of popular interest. But when teenage and young adult girls opened the first book of Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series in 2005, pop culture was changed forever. Well, at least for the next few years.

But now it seems, after two popular TV shows and as the last “Twilight” movie comes out, the trend is coming to an end, to the delight of some and the sorrow of others. Don’t fear though. For those who don’t want to leave the fantasy world yet, the pop culture world has a new trend for you: fairy tales. In this genre, you don’t have to limit yourself to just vampires and werewolves. Now you can run the gamut with every sort of imaginary and fantastical creature you have missed since your parents stopped telling you bedtime stories.

The question, though, is whether this trend is any better than the vampires. Both Hollywood and the small screen are trying to accommodate this new trend. But just like vampires got old fast because of tired storylines and bad acting, the new fairy-tale movement seems to be headed that way.

The problem is that people have trouble finding a new spin to put on these old stories. Putting them in modern context only goes so far.

“Enchanted” (2007) did a good job of bridging that gap, but mostly because it was a children’s movie, and so the writers could take certain liberties.And that’s one of the problems with this genre. It is too easy for the plot to get too ridiculous and magical that the film or show becomes childish.

For example, look at “Mirror, Mirror,” Julia Roberts’ newest movie, which hits theaters Friday.It’s a new take on Snow White, but based on the trailers, it seems to take on too much. It wants to appeal to too big of an audience and in doing so loses whatever charm it had.

It has devolved into purely a children’s movie, which is unfortunate as it has Roberts’ big name and talent. ABC’s “Once Upon A Time” also fell into this trap of trying to do too much, and the plotlines just got lost. But even if a movie or TV show doesn’t totally lose itself, putting these stories we grew up with into modern context often don’t resonate with viewers.

In these times of economic hardship and high divorce rates, audiences are less willing to shell out upwards of $10 to see yet another rags-to-riches or love-at-first-sight story when they themselves are having trouble finding a job or suffering through divorce.

It’s hard to find those stories heartening when they have that fantastical element – you know it’s not real life, so there’s little hope that it can happen to you.

This is, however, a national trend, so clearly the pop culture business is doing something right. NBC’s “Grimm” does a relatively good job of putting a new spin on the fairy tale story. It combines the always-popular crime drama genre with the new fairy tale trend, which is unique and entertaining. The highlight of this trend so far, though, will be “Snow White and the Huntsman,” which opens June 1. Charlize Theron is terrifying yet compelling as the Evil Queen, and the plot twist of the huntsman looks appealing, especially with Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman. Kristen Stewart as Snow White is disappointing, however, but hopefully she won’t bring down the whole movie.

As a trend, pop culture could do worse than fairy tales. There was obviously a reason we all loved them as children, so if anything, we’ll tune in as adults just to reminisce. But we can only hope that this trend does not end up with Kristen Stewart and a sickly pale Robert Pattinson as the faces of this trend.