Monday, February 15, 2010

Hans Christian Andersen is a bastard

This post has been brewing for a while.

Before we left California, I was wandering through the mall and I stumbled past a kid's store that was playing some Disney music - earworms, every single tune - and included in the craptacular soundblast was some blathering from The Little Mermaid.

Man, did they change THAT ending.

This really shouldn't go in my mythology category, because by and large I'm interested in the old root tales, and The Little Mermaid was written fairly recently (published 1837.) But it's such a terrible story, and got altered so much, that I couldn't leave it alone.

The Disney line of bullshit is the usual one. Plucky heroine defies her parents in order to gain the love and attention of a prince. Things do not go her way until she learns a lesson and grows up a little, and then the prince comes to her rescue. They live happily ever after. Much singing and rejoicing.

We will gloss over my thoughts about the prince coming to the rescue, simply noting that it's a big lie and repeating it in every single story doesn't make it any more true.

And it's completely different from the actual story. In the written work, the mermaid falls in love with the prince and defies her parents. Things do not go her way, until the prince marries someone else and she dies. That's right, she turns into sea foam, and then into air, where she learns that if she is good and noble in the afterlife, she might possibly go to heaven. Screw her entire life, that's wasted, but hey, she might be able to have a soul. Someday.

Andersen also wrote The Little Match Girl, about a sweet and deserving urchin who starves to death in the snow while hallucinating that she might get a big warm dinner once she gets to - you guessed it - heaven.

A lot of his writing is about completely innocent creatures sunk in misery who will have a better life once they're dead. And there's a uniquely Victorian piety about the whole thing, like he's standing around moaning "won't somebody think of the children" when instead of writing and moralizing and babbling about them going to a better world he could have maybe given one of them a fucking sandwich except he was so busy praying that they STARVED TO DEATH IN THE SNOW.

Anybody who would offer a starving child a prayer instead of a bowl of soup is an asshole. Writing children's stories and pretending that dead children are better off is a whole new level of sanctimonious bastardry.

So. Hans Christian Andersen sucks. And yeah, I know he also wrote The Emperor's New Clothes and The Ugly Duckling and those are fine, but on behalf of The Little Match Girl, I hereby declare him a bastard.


Joanna said...

never liked him.
glad you unveiled him for what he was.
creepy man who probably even fantasized about children and that is why he made them suffer.


Magic Hands said...

ew. I never thought of that angle. Now I hate him even more.

FuturePrimitive said...

bastard, he is then. thanks for the enlightenment...i never thought of any of those stories in that way before. though, i didn't really ever take any notice of the stories...just looked at the pictures. though, i do hate the 'happy ever after' thing. Total cop out.

Erin said...

I don't have snarky enough words to express how much I alternately admire your pluck and despise you because the soda I just snorted through my noise burns.

Anonymous said...

You should have capitalized "Bastard" in the headline.

Magic Hands said...

So, "Anonymous is a Bastard", right?

just checking.


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