Monday, April 26, 2010

The Gruesome Origins of 5 Popular Fairy Tales

1. Little Red Riding Hood

Most modern versions of fairy tales come from two sources: The Grimm Brothers from Germany, and Frenchman Charles Perrault, the collector of the “Mother Goose” tales. The big change they made to this one was the ending. That woodsman showing up seemed a little like a third act re-write of a movie due to bad test screenings, didn’t it? Where the hell did the woodsman come from?
Well, the woodsman was a later addition to the tale. In the early versions of the story, Red and her Grandmother are dead. The. Goddamn. End. Also, in most versions the woodsman cuts the pair out of the wolf’s belly, where they’re mostly none the worse for wear despite being eaten, which implies to us the wolf in that story world eats like some sort of python, by unhinging its jaw and swallowing prey whole. Suspension of disbelief only goes so far.

Much earlier versions also liked to spice up the sexuality angle of the story, by having Red outwit the wolf by performing a striptease for him while he’s lying in bed dressed as her Grandmother, and then running away while he’s “distracted” (Note to any young girls out there: if you are ever abducted and menaced by someone, DO NOT DO THIS).

Wait, it gets worse. This is the most horrifying bit that got filtered out before the tale reached both the Grimm’s and Perrault (and in fact, only made it into a few written texts). In this version, the Wolf dissects Grandmother, then invites Red in for a meal of her flesh, presumably with a side of fava beans and a nice Chianti. Then he eats her, too.

2. Snow White

In the Disney film the wicked step-mother winds up dead (she falls off a cliff). So that’s pretty hardcore we guess. It’s got nothing on the Grimm version, though, where the step-mother is tortured by being forced to wear red-hot iron shoes, and made to dance until she falls down dead (you can picture the puppet thing from Saw spelling this out for her over a closed-circuit monitor).
The issue of Snow’s actual age is a point of contention as well. The Grimm’s explicitly refer to her as being seven years old when the story starts, and while there’s no firm indication of how much time has passed, it’s no more than a couple of years. So unless that’s an eight-year-old Prince Charming who comes along and rescues Snow, we’re backing away from this one before we become the subject of an NBC reality show.

The biggest change, and the bloodiest, is step-mom’s … unusual eating habits. Namely, when she asks her man to bring back the heart of Snow White, she isn’t just after proof the girl is dead. She wants to eat it. Depending on the version of the story, the Queen asks for Snow’s liver, lungs, intestines and pretty much every other major internal organ, up to and including one gruesome version where she asks for a bottle of Snow’s blood stoppered with her toe.

3. Rumplestiltskin

In the Grimm brothers’ version, taken from the oral tradition, the little man is so pissed off he stamps the floor in his little hissy fit, and gets stuck. And then, like some insane version of a Will Ferrell skit, he pulls so hard to free himself that he tears himself in half. Now, if our names were Rumpelstiltskin and some dizzy miller’s daughter had just told the whole damn room, we’d be pissed too, but we don’t think we’d get dismemberment-angry.
Not to mention, in the really early versions of the tale, Rumpelstiltskin launches himself at the girl in a rage and gets stuck … um … in her lady parts. Seriously. The palace guards all have to come and pull him out, which must have made for some awkward looks afterwards.

Also, in a depressingly large number of versions, the child is killed anyway, either by Rumpelstiltskin himself, or the guards, or someone. They weren’t big on happy endings in the Dark Ages. Plague will do that.

4. Sleeping Beauty

The first major departure in this from the version we know today is when the Princess pricks her finger on her 15 birthday. In earlier versions the Princess instead gets a piece of flax caught under her fingernail which pricks her and puts her to sleep. This might seem like a small difference but it becomes important when you consider the other major, and unsettling, change to the story.
Previous versions of the tale have the Prince who finds Sleeping Beauty think she’s so damn beautiful he just goes ahead and has his way with her right then and there. Yes, while she’s still comatose.

If that’s not disturbing enough, the rohypnol-style coupling leads to a pregnancy, and the Princess gives birth to twins, all while asleep. One of the babies, seeking momma’s milk, sucks on her finger and dislodges the flax, waking her, at which point we imagine she had a few questions.

5. Cinderella

This one goes way, way back, having been told across cultures for thousands of years before being made into numerous Hollywood movies. The identity of the Fairy Godmother changes often, and in fact she only showed up in Perrault’s version, along with the pumpkin coach and the mice attendants which were all used in the Disney version. There’s even a Chinese version of the story from around 850 AD, where “Yeh-Hsien” is given gold, pearls, dresses and food by a giant talking fish.
A famous difference in many versions of the story is the “glass slipper.” Authorities on fairy tales (who you tend not to see at parties) disagree about whether Perrault’s slipper was made of glass or fur, as the words in French (verre and vair respectively) are pronounced almost the same. It’s kind of important, because if the Prince was wandering the land looking for a lady with the perfect “fur slipper” … well, it doesn’t take Freud to figure that one out, and suddenly the Prince doesn’t look so noble.

One thing Perrault left out that the Grimm’s delighted in putting back in was the violence. The sisters, desperate to fit into the slipper, mutilate their own feet, cutting off the toes and heels all described in exquisite Germanic detail. When the Prince eventually realizes Cinderella is the one for him, birds peck out the sisters’ and mother’s eyes for their wickedness.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hollywood's Top Guy's Guys.

Hollywood is packed with actors who make the girls scream, but you won't find Robert Pattinson on this list. There are some guys that other guys love just as much as the girls do. Check out these actors who have cultivated a true cross-gender appeal.

1. George Clooney
George Clooney is the quintessential guy's guy. Not only is he popular with the ladies, but he's into practical jokes, always seems in control and he likes fast cars and motorcycles. In Ocean's 11, he made every guy want to be part of his crew, and on the red carpet he makes men think about how cool they would look in a tuxedo.

2.Leonardi Dicaprio
In 1998, after starring in the guy-Krypton Oscar winner Titanic, Leo's cherubic face was plastered across teeny bopper magazines that ruined his rep with everyday bros. Thanks to some judicious role selection and a three-movie run with Martin Scorcese, Leonardo has since redeemed himself in the eyes of guys everywhere.

3. Denzel Washington
Ever since he came on the scene with his breakout role in the 1983 movie Cry Freedom, Denzel Washington has been walking the line between swoon-worthy hunk and politically-aware intellectual. Along the way, Denzel landed in movies like Training Day and American Gangster that showed just how badass this intellectual hunk can be.

4. James Franco
It might be his self-deprecating sense of humor or the fact that Judd Apatow just makes him seem so damn likeable, but for whatever reason James Franco transcends heartthrob status and is in with the guys. Sure he was named "Sexiest Man Living" by, but he was also hilarious in the guy-centric Pineapple Express.

5. Robert Redford
Robert Redford may be past his full-on hunk days, but he still pulls off a rugged sense of cool that's been much-emulated and rarely achieved. It helps his status with guys that he made probably the best buddy cowboy movie ever with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

6. Jon Hamm
It's hard to believe that Jon Hamm's breakout role in Mad Men came just three years ago. Since then, Jon has hosted Saturday Night Live twice and landed on both People and's lists of sexiest men. But don't confuse him with his alter ego. Jon is quick to warn people off looking up to Don Draper too much and says he's actually nothing like the brooding leading man.

7. Benicio del Toro
Benicio del Toro has said he doesn't see himself as a hunk and he doesn't know why he ends up on lists like these, but admits he's always been popular with the ladies. His roles in guy favorites like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Sin City, have helped make him a hit on both sides of the gender divide.

8. Brad Pitt
Brad Pitt is the cool guy that guys want to hang out with. Sure he'd probably always win the attention of the hottest girl in the room, but he'd also be a really awesome wingman. Brad won over the ladies first in Legends of the Fall, but by the time he played Tyler Durden in Fight Club, the guys couldn't resist. He gets bonus points with guys for growing ill-conceived facial hair.

9. Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp is a one-of-a-kind cultural anomoly. He's spent the better part of his career enjoying full-on heartthrob status. He's flirted with androgyny. He spends about half his time in France and has insulted the United States in interviews. And still he's adored by guys and girls alike. How could this be? Simple. Guys love pirates.

10. Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey, Jr. has some serious demons in his past, but that just seems to give him character. Not only is he the guy that guys would love to party with, he's the guy whose stories would actually be interesting. He's got a cocky attitude that works for him somehow, leading future co-star Chris Evans to remark, "I don't think anybody tells Downey what to do, and that's what makes [him] Downey."

11. Jamie Foxx
Jamie Foxx has shamelessly played up his lady's man status throughout his career, and while the way he's pandered to the audience doesn't earn him cool points, somehow it hasn't hurt him either. Jamie got an inexplicable Mike Tyson-like head tattoo, he's trotted out his Oscar-winning Ray Charles impression more than once for pop music, and yet he's still cool enough to get Ron Howard to show up in his music video.

12. Paul Rudd
Look at his resume and you'll quickly realize Paul Rudd has one of the coolest filmographies in Hollywood. He had his breakout in the 1995 chick flick Clueless, and more recently he starred alongside Jason Segal in I Love You, Man, which is basically how guys feel when they see him play his everybro schtick for laughs on the big screen.

13. Justin Timberlake
Sure he got his start making teenage girls scream with N*Sync, but with the help of a haircut, some snappy clothes, and a "D--- in a Box," J.T. successfully reinvented his image as guy friendly.

14. Alec Baldwin
How do you win over guys and girls alike? Being good looking and hilarious has worked out for Alec Baldwin. Tina Fey saved his career, but before 30 Rock, Alec's mix of charm and quick wit was cracking up SNL fans with sketches like his classic "Schweddy Balls.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

This April marks the 6th year of my blogging existence. Have I really been writing for that long? I suppose I must have... for as far back as I can remember, I've always been writing.

I used to update my blog much more frequently back when I was in HS - my "lost years". The teenage years -- adolescence; that rocky transition from puberty to adulthood where emotions are intensified, feelings run high, and paranoia that the world is conspiring against you takes over. It's almost shameful to witness how whiny and ungrateful I sounded. Almost. Some events that transpired back then justified all the complaining I did. I suppose some bitching and ranting were unwarranted, especially with how loosely I used to choose my words, but time has taken its toll on me and softened my rapier tongue.

Wisdom has arrived with age, as well. I now choose what parts of my life I share to my readers -- a fierce protectiveness over my privacy has developed. Over the years, I've grown more wary of people, expecting everyone to use my words, thoughts, and emotions as ammunition against me. This is deserved, for it had been done before. Still, I couldn't not write. So I had to share something, meager as it may be.

In hindsight, I am very grateful for having the presence of mind to document those lost years. It fed my soul. It became an insight to all the suffering (or what I had considered suffering) I went through. A document. A legacy. Something to hold on to. Do not misunderstand me though, while I am grateful, this does not mean it wasn't painful. Highschool always did have a reputation for being the prime suffering years.

What am I getting at? Well, for now, on the anniversary of my work, this is my gift: I choose to explain to you, my very loyal readers, why I am not as active in my blogging as I used to be - you deserve to know. It isn't because my muse abandoned me, it isn't because I've lost my mojo, it isn't because the non-stop internal monologue in my brain has ceased, for it hasn't at all. It is because, as I mentioned earlier, I have simply chosen what parts of my life I can spare to share.

I haven't plenty, though I wish I did... but really, what I have is you. So this post is dedicated to you -- thank you for joining me in my journey thus far. I wish for more years with you.

A thousand times thankful,

Monday, April 5, 2010

Gilded Butterflies

I don't get it.

People spend their entire lives professing a passion for this, a loyalty to that, a belief in this, faith in that, yet continue to disprove it daily with their actions.

Case in point: a devout Roman Catholic who chooses to have intercourse outside of wedlock. Sex is natural, fine, whatever, I don't care what you do and who you do it with, but don't go preaching something you sure as hell don't practice. Don't go screwing men and then pretending to be all high and mighty when faced with an audience. There is absolutely no shame in any of each and every individual's actions - to each their own. Shame lies in the pretentious way you sit in your high horse judging people, admitting to snobbery and close-mindedness, while committing sins you hide beneath a thick veneer of makeup, it's almost impossible to see your true form. Stop trying to breed envy with your lies, you filthy hypocrite. It's disgusting how many people you've fooled.

Are you so lacking in breeding that you've lost all traces of humanity? Are you so dim-witted as to believe everything people teach you? Have you no mind of your own?

There is no love lost between myself and gilded butterflies. I laugh at them, at their all too human folly of believing that appearance is all there is in this world. An act, a stage -- thinking that their lives are the leading roles. Go on, lie to yourself more if it helps you sleep better at night. I hope your subconscious eats at you while your dreams fester into what you so obviously detest.

This post isn't intended to ridicule, it's intended to call you out on your faults. Letting you know that somewhere, someone can see through your masquerade is enough for now. Be afraid, you might not be as clever as you think. I may just be one out of a number of people getting tired of your empty, insubstantial masks.