Can you make a feminist ‘Snow White’?

Charlize Theron stars as Queen Ravenna in “Snow White and the Huntsman.”

Snow White is Hollywood’s current favorite candidate for a makeover. This weekend’s release of “Snow White and the Huntsman” casts quite a different light on that fair princess most of us came to know in the animated Disney film. Struggling against the terrifying Queen Ravenna, the modern Snow White portrayed by Kristen Stewart is an empowered warrior. In the ABC show “Once Upon a Time” and in Tarsem Singh’s rendition “Mirror, Mirror,” too, Ms. White is again no damsel in distress. But as much as these works have attempted to make the character of Snow White more closely resemble the modern, independent female, there remains an anti-feminist message at the story’s core.

The Snow White story has always been about the rivalry between stepmother and daughter — which pits an older woman against a younger woman, with men almost entirely absent from the conflict.

Professor Jack Zipes, author of several books on the topic of fairy tales, including this year’s “The Irresistible Fairy Tale,” says that making a woman an exceptionally evil villain is an anti-feminist statement of its own.

“If we look at the world, [it] is really in the control of men — and they’re pretty g–d– evil. But in these films, the dominant force is an evil queen, who is vicious and nasty and contemptible. To my mind, it’s part of what I call the backlash against feminism,” he explains. “Whether it’s done consciously or not, if you look at these films, they really say something pretty terrible about women. These films are so reactionary. They react to the fact that women have asserted themselves for more equal rights and great progress has been made.”

We may think we admire a woman’s smarts and bravery above all in these adaptations, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s Snow White’s beauty that makes her special in the first place. And that valuation is perfectly in line with our natural instincts.

“Since the beginning of time, it’s been man’s natural instinct to value youth and beauty over age and experience,” says Grae Drake, movie critic for Fandango.com.

“We live in a world that is constantly selling youth, and so seeing it in the movie completely makes sense,” she says. “We’re trying so hard to value these higher ideas about all of the wonderful things that age brings you — knowledge, experience, serenity. Our animal instinct is still really going strong in the background, at the same time thinking, ‘Yeah, that’s a bunch of bologna.’”

Yes, the Snow White story inherently values and celebrates beauty, but that may be  more of a reflection of how we live than an endorsement of how we should want to be.

“Fairy tales weren’t really made to talk about the most beautiful side of humanity,” Drake says. “It’s often very ugly.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.