By now, you’ve probably noticed that Snow White is having a good year. There are two Snow White-inspired movies out or coming out, both featuring some pretty major Hollywood actors. NPR takes a look at why 2012 might be Snow’s year. One theory looks at Snow White and our contemporary interest in the aging process (and trying to stop it):
“What’s interesting now,” [Mirror, Mirror screenwriter Melissa] Wallack says, “is that almost the first time really in history, you can remain young. Everyone now is out there shooting themselves with Botox.” In the movie, in fact, Julia Roberts gets an Evil Queen spa special with scorpion bites, bee stings, bird poop and grubs digging around in her ears.
Although Botox and other treatments claim to keep you young, there’s still a stigma about resorting to these methods. And they don’t always make you look exactly like you did twenty years ago. I can understand a social anxiety about aging and the next generation creeping up. (Even now I feel kind of old when I see teen tv stars. Who are these kids?)
Another theory involves mother/daughter struggles:
The tension between the princess and the queen, says Harvard professor Maria Tatar, might also help explain Snow White’s recent revival: “Maybe the mother-daughter rivalry that has caught our attention with so many women trying to remain youthful now.”
You can even see that, says Tatar, on a reality show fairy tale like Keeping Up with the Kardashians. It’s filled with beautiful princesses, sham weddings — and, like Snow White, an older-versus-younger-woman dynamic. “The mother is constantly competing with her daughters for attention, and she’s got these gorgeous daughters; she becomes more anxious than ever about aging.”
This makes sense to me. Between Amy Poehler’s hilarious interpretation of a “cool mom” in Mean Girls to real parents who buy their babies designer clothes or t-shirts emblazoned with indie rock band names, parents are increasingly trying to maintain a sense of youth. And who can blame them? Just because you have kids doesn’t mean your life is over. But problems can arise when you value being cool or beautiful over being a parent.
Also, it’s kind of nice to see (what I assume are) more active roles for Snow White. She was never my favorite fairy tale princess because she a) doesn’t understand that you shouldn’t take candy from strangers, and b) passes out. I haven’t seen the movies so I’m not sure how their roles are actually handled, but it’s nice to get a glimpse of Snow White as someone more in control of her own destiny.
(image: Rob Webb)