Thursday, July 5, 2007

The man who would be exploited


So my friend Jeff has been working on a series of paintings of princesses from fairy tales. One of my favorite things about him is that he doesn't go for the highly sanitized, ever-so-Disneyized versions of the stories (not that there's anything wrong with Disney, mind, it's part of my childhood and that was before we saw the Return of Jafar III straight-to-video fodder. Those were the Good Old Days, my friend, yes indeedy). Not for nothing is he a Bad Man, not one to shy away from a less savory and more accurate retelling of the story. This one is The Little Mermaid.


I always loved this story; I find tragedies to be my masochistic fascination. Why the hell didn't she write it down and tell the prince what was going on? I always wondered. If it were ME, I certainly wouldn't smile and let myself be martyred. I'd TELL him how I felt. If he was gonna marry that princess anyway, then at least I'd know and wouldn't feel so bad about stabbing him through the heart. At least the issues would be clear and nobody would be left saying "Gosh, if only..."
I don't think I'm genetically coded for martyrdom. Silent Suffering is Not A Strong Suit for the women in my family. This is probably an upbringing issue, since my mother was of the opinion that effective communication was the key to parenting. When she was mad, we knew exactly what kind of dilholes we had been, and why, and what she thought of us. The neighbors knew, too. As a drama teacher, she had excellent projection.

This need to tell people things is also probably the reason why I will not be a heroine in a classic novel anytime soon, either. When Newland Archer stopped by for an evening, I'd probably look at him and say "So...what are you trying to do, here?" Jane Austen's protagonists faint and suffer and cry; at no point does one of them, upon seeing the man of her dreams who has broken her heart at a party, say "What the hell is WRONG with you?!" And it is absolutely guaranteed that nowhere in any of Hesse's canon of works will you find someone yelling "You want to know what I think? YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW?! WELL, I'LL TELL YOU EXACTLY HOW I FEEL..." Subtlety is a lost art on me, I'm afraid. As is tragedy.

So life can suck, accidents can happen, but rest assured if I'm stabbing a prince through the heart to let his blood fall on my feet to turn me back into a mermaid, it's not because I didn't do my best to communicate with him.

3 comments:

IcmusIncubus said...

Thanks for posting the picture. Happy to inspire a thought or two.

IcmusIncubus said...

She's a rebel you know... the little mermaid... and do you know what happened to her? Huh?

She Died.

Surly Temple said...

Another strong argument on why nobility is highly overrated. I'm just sayin'.