Getting Gaston Right

(Note: some spoilers for the recently released film.)

Everyone who knows me knows I was looking forward to seeing Gaston in Beauty and the Beast (2017). I have often joked that my PhD thesis was inspired by Gaston’s biceps and it’s actually, absolutely true. I was really interested in how the transition from animation to stage production was achieved and Gaston’s sheer physicality in the animated feature made a great case study. I won’t deny that research was fun. I took Eisenstein’s theory of plasticity in animation and applied it to theatrical performance.

I felt confident about Luke Evans’ casting from the moment I saw him singing with Australia’s first Gaston, Hugh Jackman, on the Jonathan Ross Show. The big expressions and gestures? The physique? The deep voice? Check, check, check.

 

Jacqueline Durran retained Gaston’s colour palette for the film, particularly that explosive red (my PhD supervisor was in stitches when he noticed I’d written that the colours of Gaston’s costume detonated strength and violence). The transition from animation is particularly successful. Stage productions replicated the cartoonish appearance of Gaston’s wardrobe with its bright, bright reds and yellows, and even added a little extra definition to pectoral and stomach muscles with some judicious padding and painting. Durran’s costume for Gaston is earthier and more wearable, so to speak. The suggestion of the military about his frock coats and the loose linen shirts shift attention from his physical to his sartorial display, which works just as well for the character. He remains larger than life without pumping up his biceps to rival Popeye’s.

It’s difficult to pin down why Gaston is such an attractive figure, despite being completely awful, malicious, and terrifying. I remember speaking to one actor who had played Gaston and he professed to being very confused about the women who gathered at the stage door to see him! Yet, there it is. Indeed, recently Gaston proved a hit at Disney World, as reported by GQ. And on io9, Katharine Trendacosta argued for a Gaston prequel: “It wasn’t exactly that Gaston had depth so much as he walked a line of menacing and hilarious that just worked.” Emily Asher-Perrin on Tor.com further reflects: “Luke Evans gives a fantastic turn as Gaston, but it isn’t merely his performance that stands out—it is that manner in which the script addresses Gaston’s toxic masculinity with far defter strokes that its predecessor. Gaston isn’t just some big burly alpha male who gets what he wants with the application of muscle and bullheadedness; the film reveals this construction to be a lie, and instead chooses to focus on how men like Gaston truly operate in the world.” Perhaps it’s that latter point that makes him all the more chilling. The film, while allowing us to laugh at his brazen narcissism, also offered us the opportunity to baulk at his malice and manipulation. The film went deeper into his villainy by showing how it operated in the community itself. This was no solo-villain, living on the fringes of society like a Maleficent or Ursula or Scar. This is a villain in complete command of the populace and they love him, even as he despises them.

The truly terrifying aspect of Gaston is perhaps that I realise I’m fascinated by him too.

Why Is Belle Indecent?

This is a post about Belle’s drawers, in a way. Again, please note, minor spoilers regarding the recently released film, Beauty and the Beast (2017).

One of the things that struck me in the film was that Belle was often running about with her underwear showing! How embarrassing! This was, of course, an effort to create a more ‘feminist’ wardrobe for the active heroine, but for a viewer familiar with fashion history, it could be perplexing. There were a flurry of articles about Emma Watson not wearing a corset, ascribing this to her desire for Belle to be unimpeded and active. However, corsets of the time were designed to support women’s activity and… basically… to support their bosoms! There were no bras. Corsets helped prevent painful bouncing situations. (Hilary Davidson has an interesting Twitter thread on the issue.)

The animated film was not, needless to say, historically accurate and there’s no reason for the film to be so. However, the film does reproduce the intricacies of eighteenth century fashion, so Belle’s fashion choices do strike me as overtly anachronistic.* No wonder the villagers thought she was odd!

In an interview for Fashionista, costume designer, Jacqueline Durran, discussed many of the choices.

Durran: “We took elements of those 18th century things and added them to Belle. So her pockets, for instance, are an 18th century thing. It’s just that people didn’t wear them outside like she does. They wore them inside the dress, hidden. But we just put them on the outside [like a tool belt] to look extra useful.”

Okay, pockets as tool belt. That’s fine. However, imagine the ‘magic’ of whipping her tools from her skirts! The pockets were accessible and useful to the wearer, but were more difficult for thieves to pick. It would have been very odd in the period for Belle to be wearing pockets outside her skirts.

Durran: “And she had her skirt that she hikes up into waist and, to make that possible, she wears bloomers underneath, which are almost like her wearing trousers. But she doesn’t wear trousers because she’s a girl in the 18th century.”

The ‘hike’ really did kind of annoy me. It looked like she had her skirts caught in her knickers! I’m sorry. But it was rather indecent in a village of eighteenth-century costumes. The ‘trousers’ were light and flimsy and looked like the undergarments that would emerge particularly in the late eighteenth-century for women. These were, however, at the time often regarded as racy and even indecent, rather than as liberating for an active woman. Women certainly wouldn’t have shown their bloomers while walking down the street at that time – it would be the equivalent of a woman walking down the street in her knickers today, really. And, in fact, trousers weren’t entirely unknown in a woman’s wardrobe of the time. Marie-Antoinette, after all, wore trousers for riding, as evident in Brun’s painting:

An actual pair of trousers would have looked much better than a skirt hiked to reveal flimsy bloomers that probably wouldn’t have withstood all that horseback riding. Imagine Belle’s poor thighs! A sturdier material for the bloomers may have been a nice note to the later Bloomers movement, too, which definitely had feminist motivations.

I’ve already blogged about my concerns with the yellow ballgown. It did look pretty and it was better in motion, particularly from the back, but a little more oomph would have balanced Belle with the Beast. The lightness of the satin organza, painted in gold rather than embroidered, did look pretty and floaty, but I still longed for the textile splendor of the gowns of the period, particularly next to the richness of the Beast’s wardrobe. However, it’s when she rips her skirts off that the problems really start. She’s running about in her chemise and petticoats – her underwear, basically. Sometimes petticoats and chemises were worn to show – to peep out from the intricately laced and flounced gowns, however, not really to be worn on their own.** It’s a chemise and undergarments, furthermore, that don’t fully look like they were worn beneath the gown in question, as a friend seeing the film with me noted. Not to mention that along the way she has picked up some boots. If she changed for boots, couldn’t she have changed the gown to something more practical, rather than later rip it off and run about in underwear? An eighteenth-century gown would have taken a little while to unlace from, but Belle’s gown seemed simple enough to take off.

The concluding ballroom scene also featured an anachronistic Belle. White and cream dominated among the gowns of the supporting women and the floral print of Belle’s white, semi-transparent gown was consequently a bit lost, particularly when the prince is wearing a beautiful blue brocade with silver lacing that is entirely in keeping with the period. Anachronisms are not unusual in costume design – Outlander rather cleverly plays upon them – and Beauty and the Beast is certainly not authentically eighteenth-century. However, I couldn’t help but think Belle was consistently anachronistic in a way that the other characters were not. This is partly a conscious move, but not altogether successful.

This is in keeping with a few other choices designed to make Belle more active, but that, to me at least, fell a little flat. There was much discussion of Belle becoming an inventor. She does rig a kind of washing machine to do her laundry, but she doesn’t share this innovation with the other women and the mechanics of her rig would monopolise the fountain, making it unlikely to be a real time-saving device for anyone but Belle herself. There’s no indication that she’s about to run out and receive a patent for her device, either, unlike, for example, eighteenth-century inventor, Sybilla Righton Masters. It does give Belle a chance to teach a young girl to read, but her attempt is easily frustrated by the male teacher.

The magical ‘book’ that can transport Belle and the Beast to Paris has antecedents in earlier tales in which Beauty is able to watch operas and plays from around Europe in the Beast’s castle. In Planché’s translation of Villeneuve’s tale, he describes the technology that permits Beauty to see all kinds of theatrical entertainments. It sounds oddly like television!

What does Belle, our heroine who longs for the greater world, do with this magic? Beast is excited to arrive in Paris, but they land in a tiny attic and it turns out that Belle used this magic simply to discover the truth about what happened to her mother. This is certainly laudable, but again, the focus is upon Belle. For a heroine who longs for more, she is remarkably centred on her own self. Once she finds out her history, she just wants to go home. Even though Notre-Dame is right outside the window! Perhaps, as the Beast suggests, it’s too touristy!

I did enjoy the film, don’t get me wrong. The problem is, I think the male characters became more interesting! The Beast certainly became more fully fleshed out and I did love the portrayal of the Beast as a wicked young Prince, in particular. The make-up was gorgeous! Gaston hit all the right notes, too. However, in a tale that celebrates Beauty, I felt she became rather lost, vocally and sartorially.

 

 

*I was disappointed that in ballroom scenes, the women wore white and cream gowns. The gowns of the period were a festival of colour and while the white gowns drew attention to the prince, they were also a little less exciting than they could have been. Of course, replicating historical fashions is always problematic for fairy-tale film. The Slipper and the Rose (1976) populates its ballroom scenes with pastel confections, meaning that its Cinderella doesn’t really stand out as much as she might.

** The chemise a la reine would have been an interesting fashion note for Belle to have adopted. A simpler, unstructured gown, it was popularised by Marie-Antoinette.

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What Could Belle Read?

Fragonard, The Reader

(Note: some minor spoilers of the recently released film.)

Beauty has always been a reader. Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve tells us Beauty enjoys reading and was deprived of the pleasure when her father was obliged to sell his books. Beauty is delighted to find a great library in the Beast’s castle: “Her great taste for study could easily be satisfied in this place, and could easily guarantee her against the dulness [sic] consequent on solitude” (Planché, Four and Twenty Fairy Tales). The 1991 Disney film, Beauty and the Beast, made much of Belle’s love of reading, promoting her literary interests as a feminist quality. Moreover, Belle is reading a fairy tale in the animated film, one in which the heroine fails to recognise her prince charming before chapter three. It is a metafictional nod that actually occurs in the tale’s pre-history.

Before Villeneuve presented “Beauty and the Beast” to the world, tales of young women and beasts were already common fodder for fairy tale authors. Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy presents us with two interesting antecedents for the tale, “The Ram” and “The Green Serpent.” In “The Ram,” Merveilleuse is exiled by her father, the king, for not showing him love and respect in the grandiloquent manner he expects. She finds herself in a pastoral paradise of streams running with Spanish wine, trees hung with dressed partridges, and dark places where it rains lobsters and white pudding. This freakish landscape is presided over by the Ram, a prince who has been transformed into a sheep. He is bedecked in diamonds and pearls and carries her off in his great, verdant pumpkin coach, while his companions, a whole herd of enchanted sheep, sip coffee and sherbets. The tale follows the path of “Beauty and the Beast,” with Merveilleuse returning for her sisters’ weddings under assurances of later rejoining the Ram. However, her father recognises her and is so contrite, he presents Merveilleuse with his very own crown. She forgets all about the Ram in the excitement of becoming Queen and the Ram consequently dies of a broken heart at the gates of the palace. So much for romance.

It is “The Green Serpent,” however, that foreshadows “Beauty and the Beast” more closely. The heroine, Laidronette, is cursed to be ugly by a fairy who has a complex about her height. Indeed, Laidronette’s name indicates her ugliness, not her beauty. She chooses to remove herself from court, but on her travels becomes lost at sea. The Green Serpent wishes to help her, but she finds him too monstrous and rejects him, even in her plight. Instead of being lost, however, she is rescued and bestowed in an incredible palace, courted by an invisible lover who, of course, is the serpent. She reads a book about Psyche and Cupid, but while she sensibly believes she should learn the lesson of the tale and not seek to uncover the nature of her mysterious lover, her family convinces her otherwise. It is the kind of metafictional twist we see in the animated film three hundred years later. Laidronette’s actions unwittingly abort the breaking of the curse upon the prince/serpent and so she must go through a series of trials to be able to finally, consciously, break it. In the process, she is herself made beautiful.

The live action Beauty and the Beast (2017) retains the sung line about the fairy tale, but there are so many other literary references, that it loses some of its power. It is terrific to see a wider range of reading represented. I was, nonetheless, a little disappointed to see more focus on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which doesn’t work metafictionally with Belle’s own story. I did enjoy the Beast’s response to it, however, and his immediate determination to introduce her to some wider reading! Quite so! Nonetheless, it would have been nice to see more female authors represented – for instance, rather than give Villeneuve’s name to the patriarchal horror that is Belle’s village, why not allow Belle to read Villeneuve’s actual literary works? The heroines of previous tales rely upon feminine advice and stories in understanding their own fates. Indeed, when Beast is caught reading about Arthur and Guinevere – Belle teasing him that it’s a romance – it becomes more about Beast reading about male characters and interests.

What could Belle be reading? Of course, it would be delightful if she were reading Villeneuve’s “Beauty and the Beast” or even d’Aulnoy’s “The Green Serpent” or “The Ram,” but here are some other options:

Margaret Cavendish, The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World or The Female Academy

Aphra Behn, The Fair Jilt

Henriette-Julie de Murat, “The Pig King” or “Bearskin” (in this case, Beauty is in animal form)

Marie-Jeanne Lhéritier, “Marmoisan” or “The adventures of the discreet princess”

Claudine Alexandrine Guerin de Tencin, The Siege of Calais

Françoise de Graffigny, Letters from a Peruvian Woman

Eliza Haywood, Fantomina; or Love in a Maze

Louise d’Épinay, L’Histoire de Madame de Montbrillant,

Of course, the film does plump for more recognisable works, although “A Crystal Forest” by William Sharp is rather more obscure and was actually written much later than the period in which the film is ostensibly set. Part of the problem, however, is that people aren’t exposed to the history of women’s writing to the degree they are exposed to men’s writing. Indeed, I was somewhat vexed to see Paul Young quoted in a Huffington Post piece on the film: ““[’Beauty and the Beast’ is] a story written and published by a woman, with a strong female character at its lead, who is very reflective and intelligent and she makes her own choices, which is not something you saw in French literature or in French society at the time.” Perhaps it was not as common or well-known, but it was certainly not completely unknown in the eighteenth century or even earlier.

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A Yellow Dress

 

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The live-action adaptation of Belle’s iconic dress was revealed a while ago and I have been mulling it over for a while. I think it’s going to bug me. Particularly when she’s joined by the Beast in his gold-embroidered blue coat and swathes of lace, her dress looks too flimsy, too simple, too contemporary.

Emma Watson had a say in the dress. In Entertainment Weekly, she says, “I really embraced working on the dress, making sure that it was utterly whimsical, and magical.” The problem is, it just doesn’t look that whimsical and in a film that so far appears to evoke the 18th century so beautifully, it simply doesn’t fit. Jacqueline Durran says, “In Emma’s reinterpretation, Belle is an active princess. She did not want a dress that was corseted or that would impede her in any way.” Of course, women in the 18th century were active. Corsets were often worn sensibly, loosely laced. They provided the necessary structure for the gowns of the period, particularly taking into account the lack of modern underwear. Women of all classes wore corsets and, of course, the fashions of the time, and many of those women performed physical tasks. They worked and they played. Certainly, women in magnificent gowns were capable of dancing. There seems to be a basic disconnect with the lived reality of 18th century fashion. Furthermore, the dress that Belle wears needs to be the most fantastical concoction. It needs to be rich and adorned. The image below of Louis XV’s mistress is from the decade or so after publication of Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve’s “Beauty and the Beast” (1740) and gives an idea of the elaborate nature of aristocratic fashion. It simply wasn’t minimalist.

François Boucher portrait of the Marquise de Pompadour

François Boucher portrait of the Marquise de Pompadour

 

The stage productions of Beauty and the Beast have been better at capturing the amazing concoction of the dress. I particularly admire more recent productions.

The Dutch 2015 production with Edwin Jonker and Anouk Maas

The Dutch 2015 production with Edwin Jonker and Anouk Maas

The gown sparkles, as you can see from the trailer, and, of course, Maas is able to sing and dance in it. I’d even hazard that the stage Beast is more attractive than what looks like a CGI’d Beast from the film.

Writing the Gilmore Girls

We all have different opinions about the Gilmore Girls Netflix episodes. I think in many ways, the negative responses are an oddly positive sign of how far we’ve come in what we demand of our television shows. Yes, it is basically a show about privileged white women. That has its set of problems and many of those problems have been exasperated in the past decade. However, while the body shaming in the pool scenes was an off-note, it doesn’t detract from the years of positive representation of Miss Patty and Sookie. Never once did the show cast any aspersion upon their weight – they were whole, successful, sexual, and attractive figures. And while there could be more diversity in the casting, that doesn’t take away from what great characters Lane and Mrs Kim, Michel, and even Gypsy and Ceasar have been. I’m also tickled pink to see Lin-Manuel Miranda tweeting about watching the series from the start – I like a nice cultural convergence!

And, honestly, being a musical theatre geek, no, the Stars Hollow musical scenes are not too long. They are perfect. I love them.

However, that’s not what I wanted to write a quick blog post about. Rory’s story in the revival has been the most criticised. Often justly! There’s no denying that she is annoying and we all wanted better from her and for her. I cringed the moment I realised she was with Logan. The bit that particularly intrigued me, though, was Jess’s suggestion that she write the story of the ‘Gilmore Girls.’

I found it oddly satisfying and very frustrating. It felt like a perfect beat, echoing Little Women and Anne of Green Gables. The heroine is stuck, seemingly rootless and directionless, and a man tells her ‘write what you know.’

Of course, two problems. First, a man tells her – why is it always a former or current love interest?* Seriously? Why do they need the man to sweep in and tell them what to write? Secondly, write what she knows?? That advice always frustrated me. Why do female authors always get that advice? Why is there an assumption that they should stick to writing about their own lives, rather than exploring all sorts of exciting alternatives? There’s nothing wrong with writing about one’s own life, of course, but it’s often treated as the sole option for the female author. While I think there is a nice rounding out of the themes in Rory writing about her mother and herself, I miss the Rory who went out on the campaign trail with Obama, who wanted to be in trenches reporting on wars. I actually wouldn’t have even minded a Rory who took the Stars Hollow Gazette to great new heights, whiskey in her desk drawer and all. She could still be a contender. She loves that paper.

In my mind, I’m just going to imagine that she remains as editor of the Stars Hollow Gazette, gets motivated by those last four words, and digs in and makes a life for herself with or without a baby.

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*In terms of Anne of Green Gables, this picks up on the miniseries with Megan Follows.

My Fairy-Tale Mixtape

When I saw Inkgypsy’s Once Upon a Time blog on fairy-tale mixtapes (inspired by Adam’s fantastic take on Andrew Lang), could I resist? Of course, the problem is that I could easily have listed all d’Aulnoy’s tales, but I have tried to restrain myself to a few key favourites. I’m sure I’d reorder this and swap out tales, but I do have a pile of grading to sort through, so I think this will have to be a ‘quickie’! I’ve also included films and novels, because I don’t see why there’s a reason to be restrictive when it comes to fairy tales!

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  1. Finette Cendron, Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy
  2. Viola, Giambattista Basile
  3. The Devil and Gasparino, Giovan Francesco Straparola
  4. The Princess Bride, William Goldman
  5. The Discreet Princess; or The Adventures of Finette, Marie-Jeanne Lhéritier
  6. Pretty as a Picture, Giambattista Basile*
  7. Riquet with the Tuft, Catherine Bernard
  8. How The Milkmaid Struck a Bargain with the Crooked One, C S E Cooney
  9. The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse, Susanna Clarke
  10. The Savage, Henriette Julie de Murat
  11. Labyrinth, Jim Henson
  12. The White Doe, Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy
  13. Peau d’Âne, Jacques Demy
  14. The Pig King, Henriette Julie de Murat
  15. The Green Serpent, Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy
  16. Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett
  17. Mandosiane in Captivity, Jean Lorrain
  18. The Old Woman’s Hide, Italo Calvino
  19. The Cave of the Golden Rose, Lamberto Bava
  20. Constanza/Constanzo, Giovan Francesco Straparola
  21. Puss-in-Boots, Angela Carter

You might notice the lack of Grimms. What can I say?

 

*Just today I was reading a blog post about a Medieval tale of a woman who sort comfort with her own model of Sir Gawain, which immediately made me think of this tale.

The Future of Fairy Tale in Film

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The other week, the Monash Fairy Tale Salon set off to see the Christophe Gans La Belle et la Bête (2014). It is a scrumptious film and while some found the transformed dogs a little too on the nose and the emotional transformation of the Beast a little undercooked, the visuals were more than enough to delight a fairy tale fan. I particularly loved the giant stone sculptures that were the Beast’s hunting comrades transformed and Beauty’s devotion to her pumpkin patch. As always, the Beast is better as a Beast. It’s always a little disappointing when he becomes a prince again.

There is a lovely, short piece on animal transformation on the Fairy Tale Review site, particularly notable for including female examples.

There is so much cinematic potential in animal transformation and while I’ve loved watching multiple versions of the Beauty and the Beast narrative, I really would love to see filmmakers break out a little.

What about d’Aulnoy’s The White Cat, for instance?

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Not only would it be a film beloved of cat people everywhere, but whenever I read about the disembodied hands, I think of Labyrinth (1986), so I can see definite potential!

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Not to mention d’Aulnoy’s other transformed Princess, Babiole.

a9442These tales have largely fallen out of our popular fairy tale corpus, but they’re amazing tales and have so much to offer the adventurous filmmaker.

Hamilton: A Musical About A Scholar

How does a bastard, orphan / son of a whore and a Scotsman / dropped into the middle of a / forgotten spot in the Caribbean / by Providence, impoverished, in squalor / grow up to be a hero and a scholar?

I was a little late to Hamilton, but yesterday I was listening to a seminar paper and when the author quoted Jefferson, I suddenly had visions of the purple suited Daveed Diggs dancing in my mind. It was particularly ironic since the paper was about the representation of whiteness.

However, that’s not the object of this post – although I am awfully excited about what the hit musical means in terms of representation. No, apart from Lee’s “I’m a general – whee!”, my favourite Hamilton line identifies the founding father as a hero and a scholar. How often do we see academics as the object of a musical? Not enough! And that it comes just as the 44th President becomes the first to publish an academic paper is extra sweet. To me, the most exciting aspect of being an academic is the intellectual adventure. To see that intellectual adventure as the subject of a musical is amazing. There may be some duelling, the occasional stealing of a canon, but what drives Hamilton in the musical is his scholarship and writing. Indeed, writing is the core of the show: the letters, the essays, the words upon which the nation was established.

Today I spotted an interview (Kris Vire in Time Out, Sept. 7 2016) with Lin-Manual Miranda where he says: “And we don’t think of writers as action figures, right? We think of action figures as action figures; we think of soldiers, we think of sports stars. But this is a guy who wrote three lifetimes’ worth of work, and that is really both what got him success and also what got him into trouble. The fact that this guy couldn’t stop writing, as both his biggest strength and his biggest flaw, is the other exciting thing about him.”

Writers are people of action. It takes courage to write, to submit, to publish, to put oneself out in the arena of publish opinion armed simply with ideas.

Writers are action figures.

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Incidentally, I’m really looking forward to seeing Lin-Manuel Miranda’s work with Disney. If you haven’t seen it yet, do have a look at his takeover of Disney’s Instagram. I’m a particular fan of his Gaston!

Moana and noticing the good in Disney

Yesterday, one of my students sent me a link to this article in The Mary Sue, ‘“My Fish”: How The Little Mermaid Helped a Genderqueer Teen Find Strength‘ by Jennie Steinberg:

When Taylor was in kindergarten […] he saw The Little Mermaid in theaters. “I remember seeing her hide who she was from her family and for the first time I thought, ‘I’m not alone.’ It was a revelation to me.

It struck me how often Disney princesses appear ‘normative’ on the outside, but their ‘I wish’ songs reveal that they don’t feel normal inside. The songs offer space to express non-normative experience. Sure, there are a lot of white princesses, but they feel odd, strange, isolated. They yearn for something more.

I am really looking forward to Moana. I’m already noting quite a bit of negative coverage, although the film itself is yet to be released. There’s often an assumption that Disney will get it wrong and, truthfully, they won’t get it exactly right. However, stories and myths and legends all change and evolve. This will be a Disney tale about Maui and it won’t accurately reflect all the stories that have been told. It will be a Disney tale and it can’t be otherwise. However, it has a wonderful cast and I’m really excited about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s involvement. He recently took over the @disneyanimation Instagram and performed a rousing ‘Gaston‘ with the Rock and I didn’t think my day could improve.

“Baba Bobs Her Hair” and other bits and bobs

I recently published a fairy tale over at Timeless Tales Magazine as part of their Baba Yaga issue. Baba Yaga tales are always such great fun! Who doesn’t love a house on chicken legs?

The tale has a 1920s spin, with loads of fantastic 20s slang and a little movie glamour. Just a little! This is a Baba Yaga tale, so most of the story takes place in a less than savoury setting. I also recorded an audio version of the tale, which for a little magazine patronage, you can download. I’ve been incredibly nervous about that audio! It seemed like such a fun idea to record until I started trying to get Baba’s voice right!!!

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I’ve also published a short piece in The Victorian Writer, “The Heart of the Princess.” I explore the glamorous history of princesses, because it never does to forget the glamour.

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I’m also happy to be in such great company in the issue. Louisa John-Krol‘s story, “The Yellow Mansion,” ends with gold slippers, which made me very happy! Kate Forsyth also has a darker take on fairy tale history. It can’t all be about sparkly things!

The Australian Fairy Tale Society is calling for presentation submissions for its annual conference in June next year. The deadline is January 29. The conference will be in Melbourne next year, which I’m really excited about! The theme is “Into the Bush: Its Beauty and its Terror.” I wonder if we’ll run into Prince Eucalyptus  in the Bush?

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