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from Hansel and Gretel, Witch Hunters. Flagrantly and boldly used without permission.

from Hansel and Gretel, Witch Hunters. Flagrantly and boldly used without permission.

Simplia was channel surfing in the high 1700s ff:

“Hansel and Gretel, Witch Hunters!” she read aloud.

”Jack the Giant Slayer”

“Snow White and the Huntsman!”


“Red Riding Hood!”

“Mirror, Mirror!”

“Oh, my!” Sagacia said at last. “Who was it said ‘“. . .  within the private confines of one’s imagination, one can ramp the grisly factor up or down. But it seems that by the time all the kids I know are twelve years old, they’ve seen  — with their eyeballs — and heard — with their ears — some lurid movie director’s worst case scenario depicted in IMAX 3-d with Full-Tilt-Vibrational-Surround-Sound. Is the conveniently accessible gruesomeness found in fairy tales just stoking that furnace?’”

“You did!” Simplia replied.

“Me??” her friend cried out, astonished. “I hardly think so! I have neither the vocabulary nor the sophistication for it, but it’s entirely true, anyway, whoever said it! And there’s your evidence. Those movies! They dig out the most lurid parts of the story and play them up in the trailers as though they were the whole point because they think it will get people to buy tickets. I don’t know if that speaks more poorly of the producers or of the public!”

“Remember what Adam Hoffman said in his letter?”  Simplia asked, then quoted him from memory without waiting for an answer:

Human beings are very visual and react really strongly to things that are viewed. I hear from librarian friends that DVDs get challenged more than books these days.

She looked up, then continued, “So, are their challenges based on the story or on their disgust at one or maybe a few scenes?”

Sagacia thought a moment, then ventured, “For movies, the latter, I’d say. For the original story itself or the told-aloud story, they don’t really object at all. Charles Kiernan was right when he said,

What twelve-year-olds see on the screen can scare them, but it is external, outside their bodies. With fairy tales, they helped out by co-creating the story in their imaginations, in their heads. Neurological, I bet there is a difference.

“That’s what I think, too,” Simplia said. “It’s like Sharon Gilbert said:

Listening to a teller is so much more personal and connected than a screen is.

“I wonder if listening is more personal and connected, and more powerful, for the actual story, and the visual is stronger for the—well, the visual. You know, the way things look, like blood and torture and stuff,” Sagacia wondered. “But not the actual story. Not any meanings or insight the protagonists’ experiences have that relate to your life.”

“Maybe so,” Simplia acquiesced. “Like Fran Stallings said,

. . . a “heard” story can cut deeper than a screenful of FXS and fake blood, especially because listeners can elaborate with personally meaningful (and most scary) details.

“But if a movie is telling the same story, why is it that the story is forgotten long before the gory scenes? Those parts haunt you—or me, at least—for a long time afterwards.”

“I don’t know,” said Simplia, but maybe it’s like that other thing Fran said’ you know:

. . . a live teller, with a small enough audience, can monitor listeners’ reactions and scale back if necessary. Furthermore the presence of a live teller may allow the option of discussion after the story, perhaps emphasizing how the story protagonist found helpers and triumphed over the scary thing. As Elizabeth Ellis has said, the teller serves as tour guide into “dark and snaky places” — and is responsible for leading the group back out again.

“In a movie,” Simplia added, “There isn’t a tour guide. Nobody leads you out safely at the end.”

“Nobody!” Sagacia said. “Not even the usher!”