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
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Deron Williams leads Nets over Raptors in Game…

The Nets traveled to a raucous Air Canada Centre but came out with an important Game 1 victory over the Raptors.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.